If you watch the financial news regularly, the idea of getting on to the property ladder may feel like a distant dream. But, putting aside the doom and gloom, it doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think. Buying your first home is exciting – you just need a little preparation and you’ll on a firm foundation to find the perfect place. 

How to improve your credit score

If you are currently renting, it might feel that every penny is going to your landlord’s bricks instead of into your own. It’s frustrating, but with some adjustments, you can still save for your deposit. 

The first thing you need to do is calculate your finances. As a guide, there are mortgages available that require you to put down as little as a 5% deposit on a property. Mortgage lenders will also want to be sure you have a good credit score and can afford the monthly payments. So, start by obtaining a copy of your credit score and see where it might need some help. You can get this from Experian or Equifax online.

Your credit score is based on your history of borrowing. You can improve it by tidying up your finances, closing down any credit cards you don’t use and ensuring you pay your bills on time. Register on the electoral roll to prove where you live and check there are no mistakes on your credit report. All of these things help boost your score.

Tips for understanding your expenditure

The next step is to identify how you can start saving towards your deposit. You’ll need to understand your financial picture by taking an honest look at what you spend.

  • Calculate all of your outstanding debts. Do you have credit cards, overdrafts or loans? Work out your monthly payments and the interest you are paying on each. You may be better off consolidating everything into one payment. 
  • We often stick to the same credit card for years for convenience. However, interest rates change and offers are available all the time. It might be worth transferring your balance to a card with a lower rate, even when you consider the transfer fee. 
  • Go through your monthly statement for at least 3 months and be honest about which purchases were a necessity and which were a luxury. By looking at a longer period you can account for times like Christmas or key events and still have a fair assessment of how much you spend.
  • Think of ways you can cut down on unnecessary spending. Are you paying subscriptions to Netflix, Prime, Spotify and so on? If you were to cut down on one channel a month, that could go straight into your savings or clear your debts faster. Or, instead of eating out every weekend, plan dinners in with friends, with everyone contributing to a course. 

Decide which type of property is right for you

The exciting part of stepping on to the ladder is exploring which property you might choose. Will you choose a flat or a house? Do you want to be close to work or is the commute a consideration? Do you prefer to be in a lively town, or close to the countryside? And, how much space do you need? It all depends on your current circumstances and your future plans, as much as your budget. 

Buying isn’t always the best option. While owning your own property will be a good investment in the long term, renting can be a better proposition if your finances are not in the best shape. With a rental, you won’t have house repairs or maintenance to worry about. It’s quicker and easier to move into a rental than buying a property, as you won’t have legal costs and other expenses. And, if you don’t like the area you are in, it’s also easier to move again. 

However, when you own your home, there are other advantages. You can decorate as you choose, have all the security of knowing that no one can ask you to leave, and as the house increases in value, you benefit rather than the landlord. 

It’s not always as hard as it might seem to get yourself into a buying position. There are various schemes in place to help first-time buyers get started, so it’s a good idea to do some research before you begin house hunting. 

For more house owner tips, make sure you read our blogs. We’ve been supporting house moves for years, storing your belongings when you’re in a chain, downsizing, in short term rental or merging two households into one, so we’ve got plenty of tips and ideas to help you navigate your way to your perfect home.

Sutton Coldfield is a town in the suburbs of Birmingham, West Midlands. Also known as Sutton or Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, it’s considered the most affluent area in the county, with low crime rate and low level of unemployment. Whether you’re spending the weekend around the area or you’re about to move to Sutton, you can find some tips on exciting things to do.

Here’s a list of things on why Sutton Coldfield is a great place!

It’s incredibly popular

Looking for a house can be stressful, especially when deciding what zip code to move to. According to reports, Sutton is an incredibly sought-after town, as well as one of the most expensive post codes in the West Midlands.  

Families are attracted to Sutton because of the local schools, which are some of the best in the Midlands, and it is renowned to be one of the best places to raise children in the UK! While this may not be of interest if you’re just passing by, it’s important to know that Sutton is super close to Birmingham city centre, less than 20 minutes away by train!

Green space

One of the main reasons why it’s so popular is the green space. It is home to Sutton Park, a national nature reserve and home to many activities, such as horse riding, jogging and golf. The Park is also home to a wide variety of animals and plants and is one of the largest ones in the whole of Europe. Quite impressive!

More specifically, some of the most popular activities include a kid’s playground, ideal if you’re spending the day with your family. The Park is also home to the Birmingham’s Donkey Sanctuary, where you can interact with a group of lovely donkeys throughout organised activities. Ideal if you’re with children or if you’re an animal lover! The Sanctuary will soon be open to the public.

Vibrant town centre

While the park is a big plus and buyers are attracted to the green in the area, let’s not forget the town centre. Outside the centre of Birmingham, Sutton is the place with the most restaurant and shops. This is great to spend a day shopping away from the busy Bullring, while enjoying a different scenery. The restaurants vary from chains to local businesses, and there is a great variety depending on what you’re craving.

While the town is mostly known to attract families, it’s also attractive for young people looking for some fun, with many clubs and pubs all in the centre.

Rich history

And for any history lovers, the town sure is rich of it! The town was given the name of Royal back in the 16th century, by a charter of King Henry VIII. Sutton was definitely great back then, and it still is now!

And of course, we couldn’t not mention the one and only Cookes Storage Service.

If you’re moving to Sutton for either domestic or business reasons and need extra space to store your belongings, Cookes is the right spot for you. With an easily accessible location, 24/7 CCTV, affordable prices and flexible solutions, we make sure your needs are met. For more information on our services, contact our friendly staff members. You can either give us a call at
0121 250 5055 , get a quote from our website or simply pop into our store.

Moving house is a momentous occasion that we all face at some point in life, whether that is to head off to university or to leaving home to live with friends or partners. As exciting as it seems starting out, merging the possessions of two or more people can prove to be more than a little problematic. When faced with a choice of three sofas to sit on or duplicate dining sets, new cohabitants may feel pressed to part with their treasured possessions, so to avoid any awkward moments and make moving house hassle-free, simply use self-storage

Get Organised

It sounds so simple, but making a plan and getting organised early will help you immensely on your moving day. Keep a few essentials such a your kettle, mugs, tea bags and a spoon in a box on the front passenger seat of your moving vehicle (trust us you will thank us later!)

Have a system of what you need to move first and what can come later; bed first, bag of clothes you haven’t warm in a year… that can come last!

Give yourself space

Using self-storage simplifies a house move as it means that you don’t have to make any rash decisions about what to keep straight away. Perhaps more importantly, however, it gives you time to get a feel for the style that you want in your new pad, not to mention an idea on the best layout to maximise the space in your home.

Yes, you may be utterly convinced that your three-piece leather suite and chaise longue are perfect for parties, however if your goods are going to monopolise the room, then it is better to consider the home without them in it. Furthermore, you will avoid an unnecessary 22-point turn to get the furniture in through the front door.

Give yourself time

By storing your items in a secure self-storage unit, you remove the time constraints of trying to exchange and complete in a day whilst carting your worldly goods across the town. Few house sales complete at a weekend, meaning that you will need to take time off work to pack, ship and unpack your belongings within a very short time frame. By using flexible self-storage, you will be able to move in to your new home at a time and pace that is convenient to you.

Give yourself a good talking to

If there is one thing we all know, it is that as we travel along the journey called life we accumulate more than a few souvenirs along the way. Gathering together your belongings to move house can be a wake-up call as to just how much stuff you have, and now is the time to give yourself a good talking to about what needs to stay and what needs to go.

Rather than transfer all these items into your new abode or make any on the spot decisions that you later regret, use self-storage to filter these items gradually, and get rid of anything non-sentimental that hasn’t been used in 6 months.

This really simple lesson, saves many moving day tears! Your new home is going to be filled with new memories and sometimes, you just need that little bit of help to let go of items that you really don’t need anymore.

Enjoy the day

It is going to be hard work and there are most probably going to be some bumps along the way, but when you can sit back at the end of the day and look at your new home you will find that all those worries you have 6 months ago are totally irrelevant now!

For more help, head over to our page to see how we can help you with your move.

Happy moving Everyone!

Longmore Pool, Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield
Longmore Pool, Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield

The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield is a picturesque and affluent town in the West Midlands, just 7 miles from Birmingham City and near to the City of Lichfield. If you’re thinking of moving to Sutton Coldfield – locally referred to as Sutton – then here is what you need to know.

History of Sutton Coldfield

Despite Iron Age remains and the remains of the Roman Icknield Street running straight through the area, Sutton Coldfield did not exist as a settlement until the 13th Century.

Icknield Street connected the local fort to the settlement of Letocetum, now called Wall, near Lichfield – although its full length ran from Gloucestershire to Yorkshire. Visitors to Wall can see the remains of the Roman settlement, protected by the English Heritage.

The Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia had its capital at nearby Tamworth, and it’s possible that Sutton originated as a hunting lodge, or manor, for the king. Possession of the land changed a number of times over the following centuries, and the first known village finally began.

Sutton Coldfield’s growth truly took off in the 16th Century, when local child John Harman joined the church and was promoted eventually to the position of Bishop of Exeter, changing his name to John Vesey. Through his support and patronage the town was given a royal charter by Henry VIII – thus the town’s full name now of The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield.

Henry VIII also donated his hunting land – creating what is now Sutton Park. Bishop Vesey’s influence is clearly seen throughout the town, from the grammar school he established, known today as Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, to churches, cottages and Vesey Gardens, a memorial park.

The town continued to grow in riches, and was seen as wealthy industrialists from Birmingham as the perfect place for their country homes. The advent of the railway also contributed to Sutton Coldfield as a tourist spot for the city folk, and a commuter town for workers wanting to live outside of Birmingham.

group of friends eating out in Sutton Coldfield
Eating out in Sutton Coldfield

House types / Prices in Sutton Coldfield

Sutton Coldfield has been named as the 4th least deprived area in the country and house prices can be high, particularly in the Four Oaks area. The average house price is over £307,000, double that of Birmingham.

The house prices are in part due to the abundance of green space, a beautiful nature reserve as well as a busy town centre and a number of high performing schools.

If you are thinking of moving to Sutton, you are not alone. Being so close to Birmingham, Sutton is a popular place for city workers, and is regarded as one of the best suburbs of the city to live in.

Schools in Sutton Coldfield

There are a number of primary and secondary schools in Sutton Coldfield. There are two grammar schools – Sutton Grammar School for Girls and Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School – and the Independent Highclare School.

Working and facilities

Sutton Coldfield is perfect as a commuter town for Birmingham, and so has very easy access routes via the M6 Toll, M42, A38 and railway to Birmingham and London.

There are two hospitals in Sutton Coldfield, the main one being Good Hope, which provides an A&E facility.

Moving home couple in front of new house

Things to do in Sutton Coldfield

Sutton Coldfield has a main pedestrianised shopping mall in the town centre, with a multi-storey car park. There are a number of smaller shopping centres on the outskirts of the town.

There is a four screen cinema, the Empire, in an art deco Grade II listed building built in 1936.

Sutton Park is a 2400 acre nature reserve, roamed by cattle and wild ponies. Stop by the Visitors Centre for maps and advice about walking routes.

There’s plenty to do for families, with Drayton Manor close by. However, after the stress of moving home, you might prefer the chance to relax in the beautiful Moor Hall Spa.

Food and Drink

There’s plenty of places to eat and drink in Sutton Coldfield, with over 20 bars, clubs and pubs, and a variety of restaurants offering a mix of international cuisine.

Moving home in Sutton Coldfield

If you’re looking for a safe place to store your belongings while you sell your home or decorate your new house, then we can help.

Take the stress out of moving house with our handy storage facilities in Minworth, Sutton Coldfield. We even have our own in-house removals team to collect your furniture and belongings, so all you need to do is settle into your new home.

Call us now for a quote on 0121 250 555.

Housemates sharing coffee together

Sharing a house with another person can be exciting, but leaves plenty of room for tension as well. Whether you’re leaving home for the first time, sharing with friends or moving in with a partner, there’s a few tips to making sure your new home doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Sharing money

Money is always a source of arguments, even between long term couples. It’s important to work out, probably even before you move in, how you will share the bills and shopping. You might choose to keep separate food cupboards, or to create a kitty for essentials such as bread, teabags and washing up liquid.

Keep track of any furniture or decorations you buy for the house as well, so that if you do move out you know who owns what.

Sharing space

Even if you have your own bedrooms, you and your new housemate will be sharing living space, so start by making each room into a place you both enjoy.

Enjoy picking out pieces of furniture together and discuss where you’ll put them. You may have pieces from home, and you will most likely end up with duplicates of some things, such as pots and pans and other kitchen utensils. If you do, consider putting them in storage until you move into your next home and need them.

Sharing jobs

No one likes clearing out the bins or cleaning the bathroom, but if these jobs don’t get done regularly and equally, tensions will rise. So it’s worth making a rota from the very beginning for the worst jobs and make sure you do your share.

Sharing things

Eating each other’s food isn’t the only way to cause friction. Helping yourself to shampoo, clothes or other personal items will just irritate your housemate. Remember as well that the furniture might belong to one of the others, even though it’s for everyone to use. So take care of it, just as you would your own.

Sharing issues

No matter how well you plan or what good friends you are, there will be times when you get irritated. It’s important to discuss issues and be open with each other.

Spend time together to build strong bonds and – importantly – to have fun. Why not make it a habit to watch a favourite soap, share a meal or have a film night with popcorn once a week. That helps keep communication open and build shared bonds.

House sharing can be great fun, and create friends for life. It’s all about showing each other some respect, and getting through each issue together.




Reasons to use Self Storage

Homeowners Storage

Throughout our lifetimes we build up a surprising amount of belongings. Research shows that we also move an average of 8 times during the same period – meaning that every possession needs packing up and carrying with us. Or does it?

The United States have been making use of Self Storage for years, with over 50,000 storage facilities in use. The UK may be slower to use offsite storage, but we are rapidly finding more uses for storage facilities, and gaining an appreciation for the versatility and convenience on offer.

So, here are some of the top reasons for homeowners to use Self Storage in the West Midlands.

1. Dressing your house sale

If you are planning on selling your home, you want to be sure it’s looking it’s best. It’s time to clear out your prized collection of figurines, take down the family photos and pack away the children’s toys. Put it all out of sight into a temporary storage room, and once your house is all dressed up it’ll soon sell.

2. During your house move

It’s becoming more common in today’s housing market that sellers have to move into temporary accommodation as one house sale completes before the other. Keeping your furniture safe, clean and dry while you rent takes some of the stress out of moving, and gives you peace of mind.

3. Settling into your new home

Deciding who has which room, and where to put your sofa and bookshelves – it all takes time as you settle into your new space and discover just where everything fits. So keeping the unnecessary clothing and boxes from the attic in low-cost, safe storage means you can relax and forget your boxes until you need them.

4. De-cluttering

With so many belongings it’s no wonder our homes start to feel full. But rather than throw out bikes and ski’s, winter coats and summer camping gear, it’s better to store it away safely until it’s needed. After all, there’s no need to be wasteful when there are a variety of personal storage options available providing just the amount of space you need to de-clutter your home.

5. Home office solutions

More and more of us are working for ourselves, using a room in the house as a home office or buying tools and equipment for a manual job. Storage provides different sized spaces to suit your needs, whether it’s a secure space for your expensive tools or somewhere to keep confidential documents completely safe.

6. DIY

After moving home, DIY and redecorating must be close on the list as one of the more stressful events in our lives. Save your stress levels by temporarily moving furniture and treasured heirlooms into short-term storage while renovations are carried out.

7. Downsizing

Whatever the reasons you are moving to a smaller home, it’s difficult to decide what you want to keep. Years of memories and keepsakes war with favourite armchairs and accumulated hobby equipment. Move it all into storage and you can sort through everything in your own time.

More homeowners are turning to offsite storage as a way of keeping their possessions safe. Try Cookes Storage. Dry and secure, they are the preferred option to a garden shed or garage if you have the need for more room at home. They’ll even collect your personal belongings for you, the perfect solution for those larger items.