Benedict Ambrose and I went for a walk along Edinburgh’s Water of Leith yesterday afternoon, and at one stage we climbed back up into the city and toured a very elegant, wealthy neighbourhood. Elegant and wealthy in this context means three-storey (but not gross) houses built in the 1880s, which can be purchased today for a modest £900,000 or so.
As an aesthetic experience, it was very good. These were the kind of houses I always imagined I would live in one day. But as a psychological experience, it was very bad–for exactly the same reason. Although I argued with myself that it is better to live in a two-bedroom flat in a modest (ahem) but not terribly crime-plagued neighbourhood than to have a massive mortgage on a house in Coltbridge Terrace, my heart did not agree.
My heart is being dumb, though, for I have done the math, and even if I had begun working as a full-time journalist when I arrived in the UK and saved every penny for 12 years, we would be able to put down less than half of the starting price for the empty Coltbridge Terrace house we looked at yesterday.