In this column last time I reported on our stressful attempts to buy a house. Well, the stress has stopped. Because we are not buying a house any more.

This is for reasons which I would gladly bore you with, but only one of which is relevant to the pages of this magazine: the detrimental effects the process was having on our mental health.

Having moved more times than I care to recall I understood the stressful aspects of that process, but these seemed to pale into insignificance compared with trying to buy somewhere to move into in the first place.

We were repeatedly told the stress was worth it if we ended up with our own home but in the end we decided that, actually, the place we were supposed to be buying really wasn't.

So now we have to decide what to do next. On the one hand you have an economic climate that means less disposable income than ever, house prices that have already gone from the sublime to the ridiculous and show no sign of slowing and the fact that, so people who mean well tell me, not to own your home is social death.

On the other hand - well, personally I would be tempted not to buy somewhere just to buck the latter utterly preposterous notion and so move towards a Continental-style love of renting.

But then what to live off in old age without a Continental-style pension?

With the cost of living in London being what it is should we move to the 'burbs or the shires? Or throw caution to the winds and take out a bigger mortgage?

I haven't the foggiest idea. But I do know none of it is doing much good for my state of mind.

  • A kind reader writes to venture that perhaps my 'why neck', as discussed on 4 October, could have been misheard by me and might have actually been wry neck, otherwise known as acute torticollis. Michelle Willey suggests that 'telling people you have acute torticollis would probably elicit more sympathy'. Having checked the symptoms on the sites Michelle sweetly sent links to, I do not think that is in fact what the problem was. It's a shame though, because as she says, it certainly sounds more impressive.