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The road to home ownership...starts with tidying up

This month sees the start of another year's tenancy agreement in our current flat - we moved in back in summer 2014 (you can read about it here and here).  We are using this as motivation to finally, finally, get round to buying a house.
Finances are obviously a big issue, and until that is all sorted we don't know exactly what our budget is.  All we do know is that living in the south as we do, our budget isn't going to go far, whatever it is!  I'm still trying to persuade Ben to move back up north, but he won't budge (literally).
However, we are confident that by the new year we will be in a position to buy a house (I'm going to carry on saying house, although Sensible Amy points out a flat may be all we can actually afford).  We've yet to narrow it down to a location, but our work addresses are about 40 miles apart so most likely we'll be somewhere in the middle so we can share the commuting distance.  Ben is fussier than I am, so basically he needs…

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