A woman’s incredible find after buying a family home 20 years later

A woman who bought her childhood home 20 years after moving out said she “couldn’t stop crying” when she realized not much had changed, bringing back a flood of memories.

Nicole Thatcher-Cottone’s parents settled in the home when she was just a few months old. Sitting in the same living room with her own family, the now 31-year-old mother finds herself laughing at how “life comes full circle”.

“It still feels surreal,” she told Yahoo News Australia.I’ve dreamed of this since we moved out.”

A photo of Nicole Thatcher-Cottone as a child in front of the fireplace in her childhood home.  A recreation of the photo with Nicole as an adult.

Nicole Thatcher-Cottone, 31, bought back her childhood home 20 years after the sale. Source: Delivered.

When asked why her home in the small town of Flemington, New Jersey is so meaningful, she recalled the “special memories” it holds and how in many ways it was a haven for her.

“I struggled with OCD as a kid and this home was my safety net. It was my consolation and when we moved I felt like I lost that,” said Ms Thatcher-Cottone. “My teenage years hit me like a train.”

When she became a mother at 19, she and her husband moved into a house nearby and kept in touch with the new owners, who bought the property when she was 10.

“We used to trick or treat with Aubrey there every year and they still knew who I was!” she said.

Two photos of the letter Nicole received from her neighbors saying they would like to sell her the house.

The owners sent her a sweet letter saying they want to sell her the house. Source: Delivered.

How did she buy it back?

While looking for a new house, Mrs Thatcher-Cottone tried her luck and wrote a letter to the owners.

“I told them that before we started looking, I really wanted to see if they were willing to sell. Years ago they had told me they planned to move to the Poconos in Pennsylvania after they retired. I figured that wasn’t it. It hurts everyone to ask!” she said.

“A few weeks later I woke up and went out on my porch to find a letter with my name on it and a bouquet of flowers.”

The mother stayed in touch through letters for almost a year, in May 2022 the mother received the answer she was hoping for and in early 2023 she moved into her dream house with her family.

“When they left, they left me the family picture that I drew for them 20 years ago, up until the day they moved into the house,” she said.

“If you had told me at 19, pregnant with my eldest, that in 10 years I would not just own a house but own THIS house, I would have thought you crazy!

“It really was exactly the right situations that brought us here and we are so grateful. My girls love living where I used to live!”

A photo of the front of Nicole's childhood home, with an old photo of her and her sister in front of it.  Another set of photos of Nicole's two children standing in front of the fireplace and then one of Nicole and her sister in the same spot as children.

After retiring earlier this year, the mom recreated photos like this one of her two girls (top right) standing in the same spot as she and her sister (bottom right). Source: Delivered

House is a “time capsule”

What surprised Ms Thatcher-Cottone most when she moved back in was that the previous owners “hadn’t changed anything about the house”.

“The wallpaper, the floors! Everything was identical! Even the same oven! I could bake a cake for my kids in the same oven my mom used to make for me,” she said.

In one particularly heartwarming moment, the mum discovered her name was still written on the windowsill of her old bedroom.

A photo of Nicole as a child washing her hands in the kitchen sink.  There's a photo of Nicole's name on the windowsill.

Much in the house remained the same. Source: Delivered.

“It was like walking into a time capsule,” she said. “My father wrote down my grandparents’ phone number in the kitchen in case there was an emergency and it was still there!

“My dad used to chase me around the house with this magnet on the fridge for fun. He kept it in his keepsake drawer all these years. The day he first saw the house after he left I cleaned it up and saw that he had brought it and put it back on the fridge.

“I couldn’t stop crying. He said, ‘That’s where it belongs’.”

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