Property: Stepping Stones

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Indy Lifestyle Online
COLIN AND Sue Cuthbert have bought five properties since 1979. They now own a five-acre smallholding in Suffolk.

Most of us have vague aspirations as to where we want to live and some eventually get there. But Sue and Colin say: "From the start we had one aim - to own our own smallholding."

The path was not easy. Sue had stopped work to have children and Colin's work was lowly paid, but they were determined to slowly climb the property ladder: "We knew we had to work hard and live cheaply to achieve our aim."

Their first step was a two-bedroom end of terrace in the market town of Stowmarket, bought for pounds 8,000 in 1979. It was close to Sue's job in the library, and Colin travelled by moped to his council depot. Two years later, they sold "by some miracle" for pounds 14,000 when prices peaked.

In 1981 they bought a three-bedroom terrace for pounds 16,000 and Sue stayed at home to look after their daughter. Their son's arrival prompted a search for "somewhere with a bit more garden" and in 1984 they sold for pounds 20,000. They heard about a timber-framed house on offer at pounds 10,000, which had a council closing order on it. Some buyers may have balked at the work required but Sue and Colin were undeterred: "We went for it even though it meant living in a caravan for a year."

The family moved in to the house in 1985. Was this their ideal home? "We hated it! It was dark and gloomy and we moved as soon as we could."

They stayed until 1986, to avoid repaying the grant, but quickly sold for pounds 40,000. By now they had enough for a smallholding, but were limited in area by Colin's work so plumped for a three-bedroom bungalow in half an acre, which cost pounds 42,000. They added an extension for their third child and were settled until they sold for pounds 71,000 in 1991.

They then decided to take stock and rent while looking for their life- long dream: "We were getting older, so it was now or never." In 1992 "stretching our budget almost to breaking point", they bought a five-acre smallholding in Suffolk for pounds 85,000: "We got it cheaply as it was run down, overgrown and needed work."

The Cuthberts now lead a semi-sufficient lifestyle, keeping pigs, goats, and chickens, and growing their food. "Ours is not a story of quick profits, but with hard work, DIY and taking chances anyone can own their ideal home."

Ginetta Vendrickas


1979 - bought two-bedroom house for pounds 8,000, sold for pounds 14,000.

1981 - bought three-bedroom terrace end for pounds 16,000, sold for pounds 20,000.

1984 - bought timber frame for pounds 10,000 (plus pounds 10,000 grant) sold for pounds 40,000.

1986 - bought bungalow for pounds 42,000, sold for pounds 71,000 in 1991.

1992 - bought smallholding for pounds 85,000, now worth over pounds 130,000

For your moves to be featured, write to: Nic Cicutti, Stepping Stones, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. pounds 100 for the best story