My First Home: Love Island DJ Alana Macfarlane Kempner
Love Island and Virgin Radio DJ, Alana Macfarlane Kempner, enjoyed a sense of community growing up in Edinburgh, but forgot how much she missed that after living for 15 years in London, where she hardly knew anyone in her area.
Now Alana, 32, is friends with her neighbours, after buying a home outside the capital, with comedian husband, Luke Kempner.
Where did you buy your first home?
In Hitchin, Hertfordshire, a year ago. It’s about 25 minutes on the fast train from London and then you’re literally in the countryside. Our house looks over a nice field, it’s great!
Why did you decide to buy?
We realised that if we got a deposit together, our mortgage would be the same as our rent in London. We thought we’d be better off paying our own mortgage, instead of someone else’s!
What is the house like?
It’s a four-bedroom detached new-build. It’s quite spacious for a new-build, with a largish standalone kitchen and a big combined dining and living room.
What was on your wishlist?
We knew we wanted a big garden because we’ve got a dog. I wanted the garden to be part of a nice cottage, with an open fire, instead of part of a new-build, which I found quite clinical. But after we started looking at houses, we decided that actually, you can make a new-build your own.
We hired interior designer company Bear Rene to make it look as least like a new-build as possible. They did just that, finishing work a week before lockdown, so we were like ‘phew!’
Tell us about the renovations…
They put a breakfast bar in the kitchen and repainted and repapered all the walls.
The living room is a minty green, the walls in our bedroom are charcoal grey and even the handles on the stair rails are charcoal. Style-wise it’s like Soho House, so quite quirky.
What was the most difficult part of buying a property?
Getting the deposit together.
Luke and I have been together since we were 23 and we’re both self-employed. Our parents couldn’t help us with a deposit, so I was 31 and he was 32 when we finally managed to put down a deposit.
How did it feel to buy?
Great and it still does, a year after we bought it. We’ve both worked so hard, but we never thought we would be able to get on the property ladder, as house prices kept going up.
Lockdown gave us more time to enjoy it and every night we say to each other ‘thank you, thank you, thank you,’ which sounds a bit cheesy, but we’re so grateful we own our house!
Do you have any advice for first-time buyers?
Keep believing and do your research as there are lots of schemes to help. If you’re self-employed, keep on top of your accounts to boost your chances of getting a mortgage approved.
What are your neighbours like then?
All the neighbours are around the same age as us. During lockdown we used to speak over the fence and sometimes have gins with them. They’ve become friends.
Do they recognise you and your husband from the telly?
When I told my neighbours that I was a DJ she asked: ‘Are you one of the Love Island DJs?’ I said I was and she replied: ‘I thought I recognised you, but I didn’t want to say!’
My husband is doing a show for ITV called Celebrity Karaoke Club and the kids next door were watching the show recently and couldn’t get their head round it that their neighbour was on TV!
What’s Hitchin like?
Hitchin is beautiful with lots of fields, nice restaurants, and bars. I would recommend moving here.
My friends call me the Mayor of Hitchin because I’m always singing its praises. I’ve already convinced one friend it’s a great place to live and now she’s looking to buy here!
Alana runs The Gut Stuff, a website to improve gut health. The All-In-One Fermenting Kit launches later this month
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