The hidden costs of buying a house



We all know that securing your first home or moving to a new one is a costly task. With so many fees, taxes and ‘administration costs’ you might need to put aside a lot more money than expected. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the hidden costs of buying a house:



Okay, this isn’t technically a hidden cost but did you know you could actually save yourself money by signing up for a Government scheme? Help to Buy, Right to Buy and Shared Ownership are most commonly made use of but you can find out more information here about the schemes available. It can literally pay to be aware of these options.



When it comes to buying your house expect to have lots of hidden fees and charges added on as you go along. Stamp Duty is the first fee to consider if the home you are buying is worth more than £125,001.


Stamp Duty was discussed regularly in the media and because of this the Government amended legislation to make the system fairer last year. Before, a property priced at £125,001 would have accumulated £1,250 in Stamp Duty, but now under the new legislation this cost is just £0.02. Use a Stamp Duty calculator to work out what you will owe if your house is worth more than £125,000.


Valuation fees are another hidden expense many people don’t realise exist until they are charged up to £1,500. The mortgage provider will value your property to ensure it’s worth the amount you wish to borrow. Some lenders will waive this fee but others won’t and as questionable as this charge seems to be – and let’s face it, it’s quick and simple to establish a property’s value – it’s another cost to bear in mind.


An electronic transfer fee is another hidden charge to look forward to and can cost between £40-£50, to cover the transfer of money from your mortgage lender to your solicitor. Solicitor fees are something else to plan for and can amount to £250-£300 for local searches, plus £500-£1,000 legal fees, to pay for the management of all paper and legal work.

Wait, there’s more.

Surveyors’ fees must be paid to cover a check over of the house, to ensure there is no subsidence or rising damp for example. The costs could amount to £1,000 for a full structural survey, but still may not discover everything potentially wrong with the property.


Then you’ve just got your moving fees to pay, which should cover the cost of packaging and the rental van. You can easily do this for a small price (by bribing friends and family with alcohol and food to help), unless you need the moving service to come in and pack up everything you own as well.


So, yes, there are lots of costs to consider before you can move home and many people are not even aware they exist, but now you know. Plan accordingly and just keep thinking about your lovely new home at the end of it all as you hand over your bank details to cover each cost.


• This post was provided by the Money Advice Service. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page. Photo: DTTSP.



10 excellent ways to get your health on track this year



When it comes to health, there should be no compromises and no short cuts. You owe it to yourself, your family, and friends to look after your mind and body – which means confronting any issues straight away and regularly keeping medical appointments. If you’ve made a vow to prioritise your health throughout 2015 here are ten ways to keep on track.


Check blood pressure

Don’t estimate the risks involved with high blood pressure – as the British Heart Foundation states, if you have it – and as many as seven million people in the UK are living with it, undiagnosed – you’re more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a stroke. Get yours checked regularly, and keep it monitored.


Modify your diet
It’s easy to fall into poor eating habits: second helpings at meals, over-sized portions, too much fatty, salty or sugary food. A balanced diet means a variety of different foods from the main food groups: fruit and veg; starchy, carb-based foods such as bread and pasta; meat, fish and eggs; milk and dairy.


Stay hydrated

It’s vital to keep hydrated through the day – by drinking plenty of water. If you have a tendency to guzzle too much coffee or carbonated fizzy drinks, make a concerted effort to cut back and replace with water.


Get your hearing tested

Don’t neglect the health of your hearing, which often deteriorates with age. There really is no excuse to avoid regular tests – companies like Hidden Hearing offer these for free and modern hearing aids are so small, and fitted discretely, that they can seamlessly adapt to your lifestyle.



There should always be time in your life’s schedule for exercise; if you currently do nothing, get involved at some level. The guidelines for adults up to 64 years of age includes combinations of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (cycling, fast walking), vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (running, swimming fast) and muscle strengthening activity (lifting weights, gardening).


Quit smoking

This should possibly be at the very top of the list, if it were presented in order of priority. Quitting smoking is a total no-brainer – the negative impact on health is substantial. The squeeze is constantly being applied to smokers – Public Health England has just launched a campaign to highlight the hidden dangers that second-hand smoke in homes and cars can cause to children. May as well knock it on the head now.


Sleep well
Sleep is so underrated as a health benefit. You should be aiming for at least seven hours of good quality sleep a night. Get to bed at a regular time – particularly during the working week. If you find sleeping an issue, here are some tips and tricks.


Beat stress

Certain types and amounts of stress are unavoidable, but managing stress is crucial to our well being. Beating it enables us to lead happier and healthier lives. Stress relief advice can be found here.


Have an annual check up

Cars have a yearly MOT, and people should too. Book yourself in for an annual check up with your GP, just to make sure there are no hidden problems. Apart from anything else, it’s good practice to talk over any issues with your doctor – physical or mental.


Look after your eyes

Did you know that 84% of adults value their sight more than any other sense? Just as you need to get your hearing regularly tested, so too your eyes. If you’re 40 or over you should have your eyes tested every two years at least; if you’re experiencing frequent headaches, tired eyes or blurry vision, book an appointment soon.

• This post was provided by Hidden Hearing. For details on how I work with brands, please see my Work With Me page. Photo: DTTSP


Five reasons to be cheerful in 2015



It’s fair to say that the last couple of years have been pretty miserable for many, what with the economic downturn bringing everything from widespread unemployment to wage freezes. It’s certainly been a tough time but with a new year comes many new things to smile about – particularly for families – so here are five reasons to be cheerful in 2015.

Great pound to Euro exchange rates

If you’re thinking about jetting into the sun, now could be the perfect time to do it as the pound is currently nudging a rate of £1 = €1.30. This is the best it has been since 2007, meaning your hard-earned cash will go further anywhere in the Eurozone. And with companies like Tots Too offering luxury kid’s holidays at a great rate you certainly won’t be short of family-friendly holiday destinations that are ideal for all ages.

No more airport tax

Moreover, holiday makers can also enjoy reduced fees as from May this year there will be no more airport tax for children under 12s travelling in economy class – and from next year it’ll also be scrapped for under 16s. The Chancellor’s generous decisions to get rid of these costs will not only make it easier to travel with kids but it could also leave you with more spending money for your vacation – what could be better?

Better rail connections

If you’d much prefer to travel by train than plane but are put off my long journey and connection times, Eurostar may have the news you’ve been waiting for. From May 1 they’ll be operating a year-round non-stop service to the south of France connecting London and Kent with Marseille via Lyon and Avignon with fares starting from just £99. Now that’s got to put a grin on your face, right?

Reduced fuel prices

Owning a car isn’t cheap. Not only is there the tax and insurance to pay but fuel prices can completely obliterate your weekly budget. That said, the plunging price of world oil has seen prices fall at the pumps meaning you can fill up your vehicle for far less this year – great news for anyone planning a road trip throughout the coming months.

A host of exciting events

Whether you want to stay in the UK or jet off somewhere exotic there are a host of exciting events to look forward to, from the Nice Carnival along the Cote d’Azur throughout February and March to the Grenada International Festival of Music and Dance in June. There’s something taking place most months across the globe, so why not do some research and find the fun?

Life is what you make it, so if you want to feel great throughout 2015 embrace the positives and put the negatives to one side.

• This post has been provided by Tots Too. For information on how I work with brands see my Work With Me page.  Photo: DTTSP

Making A Healthy Packed Lunch

packed lunch 1

Is it just me who worries all the time that their child isn’t eating the right foods? I mean, I think we’re doing OK – she eats fruit and vegetables (even if it is in small quantities) but if we ever ask her what she’d like for lunch, her reply is “Chicken nuggets, chips and ice cream”.

What is it with kids and chicken nuggets!

So to balance out the nuggets, we take a packed lunch box on days out, and fill it with a mix of food:

  • A wholemeal bread sandwich (usually ham or cheese)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Grapes / apple / raisins
  • Water or Vita Coco Kids drink

Left to her own devices, the four-year-old would eat the yogurt and fruit, but leave everything else. So we have a little tactic where we ask her to take a bite of each thing, in turn. A bite of sandwich, a tomato, a drink of water, a grape and so on. She thinks it’s a game, and we feel relieved that she’s getting a mix of nutrients.

Tombola recently asked me to write about our packed lunches over on their website – take a look and read about some other mums’ packed lunch tips too.

What do you put in your child’s packed lunch and how to you coax them into eating the healthy stuff?

Thanks to Tombola for commissioning this post. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.