First-time buyer puts down roots in Hemel Hempstead – after living in 20 different homes in three countries

Lilia has lived in more than 20 homes throughout her life in France, Canada and England

By Holly Patel
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 12:43 pm

Lilia Bouajila has been able to buy her first home after swapping London for Hemel Hempstead.

The 36-year-old used the Help to Buy scheme to buy an apartment for herself and her 11-year-old daughter Assya at Bellway’s The Foundry development in Hemel Hempstead.

Lilia, who has lived in more than 20 homes throughout her life in France, Canada and England, with her most recent home being in London, has finally put down roots after wanting to leave the bright lights of the city behind.

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Lilia and Assya relaxing at their apartment at Bellway’s development

She said: “I am a single mother and I knew that one day I would move out of London and look to buy a home in a quieter, greener, more peaceful place to give my daughter a calmer place to grow up in.

“Assya was coming up to secondary school age so I decided that it was time to make that move.

“She would have to move school and make new friends anyway, so I wanted her to do that in a place where we could settle and make a better life together.”

Lilia, a banking digital solutions manager, had friends in Hemel Hempstead and looked at The Foundry and another apartment development in the town.

Lilia and Assya relaxing at their apartment at Bellway’s development

She said: “The Bellway development was head and shoulders above the other site.

“When I walked into the showhome I was blown away. I thought there was no way I could afford an apartment like that. The layout was superb and the finish was immaculate.

“But the Bellway sales team helped me crunch the numbers and, with the Help to Buy scheme, I was able to buy a similar apartment. I knew about the initiative but the sales team did all the administrative work and really smoothed the process for me.

“We were living in a two-bedroom flat in Highgate in London and there were apartments being built across the road, but they were double the price of our new home here.

Lilia Bouajila and her daughter, Assya, at The Foundry in Hemel Hempstead

"There was no way I could have bought the same size of apartment in London for the price I have in Hemel Hempstead.

“I am now paying a mortgage which is half the rent I was paying in Highgate and I have invested in my own property. It feels great.”

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Help to Buy allows first-time buyers to purchase a new-build home with a five per cent deposit and a 75 per cent mortgage, with the remaining 20 per cent provided as an equity loan from the Government, interest free for the first five years of homeownership.

New homes bought with Help to Buy must be priced under the cap set for their region – in Hemel Hempstead this is £407,400.

French-born Lilia and Assya, who had been living in London for six years after moving over from Paris, moved into their two-bedroom apartment on the former site of the West Herts College Campus in October.

Lilia said: “We both love this apartment so much it is crazy. We had to share a bedroom for four of the years we were in London so to have our own rooms is delightful.

“My bedroom is my favourite room in the apartment because it is just so luxurious and I have my own en suite bathroom. Assya loves having her own bedroom and is so proud to show her new friends the new place.

“When I woke up after my first night in our new home, for a few seconds I forgot where I was and thought I was staying in a top-class hotel. Then I realised I was in my own apartment.

“I am half-African so I need as much sun as I can get. My apartment faces south and it seems to get the sun all day long. The full-length windows in the apartment let in so much light and allow me to get my sunshine fix.

“At this time of year, you would have to wrap up warm to sit on the balcony which faces the sunset but I am counting the days until summer when it will be such a lovely spot to relax and end the day.”

Lilia said she would recommend Bellway to her friends and family.

She said: “The team at Bellway were outstanding in every respect. They made everything so easy for me.

"They always got me the right information and never left me without answers to any of my questions or left me feeling uneasy about anything. They were wonderful and helped me to buy an apartment that feels like ’home sweet home’ for myself and my daughter.”

There’s currently a choice of one and two-bedroom apartments available to reserve at The Foundry, for more information about the apartments call 01442 331397 or visit: