Article by Janice Morley

When Megan and her new husband Panny went house hunting, things were just not going their way. Then, as luck would have it…
The house search was all going horribly wrong for newlyweds Megan and Panny Livadas when they left Megan’s hometown of Glasgow to move south, to be near their London offices and Panny’s family in Pinner, in the borough of Harrow.
The couple, who work in data consultancy and finance, naturally analysed their options. After being kicked out of their rented property because the owner had decided to sell, they never wanted to be vulnerable to a landlord again. Panny, 31, says: “We couldn’t afford central London or Pinner – but we could afford Watford.”
   This suited Megan, a chatty, fun 28 year-old. Having grown up in a big city, she thrives on a metropolitan buzz. “Going to the country for the weekend is not for me,” she laughs.
   Watford’s mishmash of old Hertfordshire industrial town-turned commercial centre includes a bit of a sprawl, a lot of city-centre congestion – and there’s a plan for millions to be spent on its rejuvenation. Megan imagined the couple’s first home as a cosy terrace house, near shops, restaurants and streets full of people. She thought she had found her dream home but at the last minute, the sale fell through.
 
The search begins again
While they absorbed the impact of this setback, Panny, a tall chap who quite fancied living in an apartment with high ceilings and big windows, went to see Watford Cross, a compact, good-looking complex of flats, close to the station and newly built in pale stone by Weston Homes. Light, open-plan and spacious were on his agenda.
   However, Watford Cross was popular and almost sold out. Megan, not keen on having a restricted choice, nevertheless went – very reluctantly – to see one of the remaining homes. And that day, the couple’s luck changed.
We found the perfect penthouse!
The apartment that appealed to Megan was on the top floor – a two-bedroom penthouse with balcony views over the town and surrounding countryside – but it had been snapped up. However, the day she walked into the sales office, the news came through that the buyer had failed to complete on time. The penthouse was once again available.
   Megan was thrilled. “We were meant to get it,” she says. “Everything was right. I wanted to be at the top of the building, with no one above. I did not want electric heating, and I felt we were getting lots of products included for free, like the oven and fridge and fitted cupboards, that other developers just did not offer. This means a lot to a first-time buyer.
   “I loved the modern thinking behind everything, too. The water-saving taps, the multiple USB points – we both liked the layout and the finish on the kitchen cupboards. And with us both working from home, we needed the hyperfast 1Gbps broadband.”
   They have two bathrooms. Megan would not have bought a flat without a bath, while Panny is in love with his big shower room. Megan adores her own separate office. “We only go into our London offices one or two days a week so it is so important for us to have our own working space at home.”
 
Loving the community spirit
Being five minutes from the station is a huge plus, says Panny. “It’s 20 minutes into Euston. And Megan likes a bit of train noise. She says it helps her get to sleep.”
   Neither of them wants to drive. Megan says: “My mum took her test 200 times and still failed so I’m not even starting. There are very few parking spaces here and that’s fine. I don’t think we should be adding to the traffic congestion. The locals would not welcome more cars and we feel quite strongly about it, too.
   “Since Covid things have changed. We were both daily commuters but not any more. Local community is important. We want to belong and support people. I shop in the market, I get my
coffee at a local café, it keeps the money local and I make friends. I feel the community spirit massively.”
   Covid was a game-changer in other ways, too. “With everything shut down it was our chance to save,” says Panny, who is now working for NatWest and is serious about money management. “We saved hard but we would not have been able to afford this place if there had not been two of us. It’s still really hard for a single first-time buyer.”
   The couple are acutely aware of rising prices and both are impressed with the low energy use and sustainable construction offered by their Weston Homes apartment. “That is one of the reasons I was happy that Megan didn’t want an old house in the end. We just don’t have the big money needed to put into renovation and insulation.”
   They are spending their money on furnishings, happy to get their collection together slowly and grateful for the big black sofa from Panny’s bachelor days. It came in handy when Megan’s parents came to stay. She smiles: “My dad sat on the balcony for hours, just enjoying the view. He said, ‘It’s a nice place you’ve got here.’”
Yes, it’s a great place, bought with a certain amount of strategic planning – and a huge dollop of good luck.
Watford Cross is a collection of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom duplexes, with 15 left for sale. It is one of two Weston Homes developments in the town – under construction nearby is The Laundry Works, with homes available to buy off-plan. Call 01923 889868 for information.
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