Woman's incredible find after buying childhood home 20 years later

The mum of two was astonished to discover what was still inside the home she had loved so much.

A woman who bought her childhood home 20 years after moving out said she "couldn't stop crying" when she discovered nothing much had changed, bringing back a flood of memories.

Nicole Thatcher-Cottone's parents settled down in the home when she was just months' old. Now 31, the mum sits in the very same living room with her own family, and catches herself laughing at how "life moves full circle".

"It still feels surreal," she told Yahoo News Australia. "I had 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 her childhood home back 20 years after it was sold. Source: Supplied.

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

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

Becoming a mum at 19, she and her husband moved into a house close by and kept in touch with the new owners who purchased the property when she was 10.

"We would take Aubrey trick or treating there every year and they still knew who I was!" she said.

Two photos of the letter Nicole received from her neighbours, telling her they are happy to sell her the house.
The owners sent her a sweet letter saying they would like to sell the home to her. Source: Supplied.

How did she buy it back?

When searching for a new house, Ms 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 there was a chance they were ready to sell. Years ago they had told me when they retired they planned on moving to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. I figured It wasn’t going to hurt anyone to ask!" she said.

"A few weeks later I woke up and went out onto my porch and found a letter with my name on it and a bunch of flowers."

Keeping in touch through letters for almost a year, in May 2022, the mum got the answer she was hoping for and moved into her dream home with her family at the start of 2023.

"When they left, they left me the family picture I drew for them 20 years ago to the day that they moved into the house," she said.

"If you had told me, at 19 years old pregnant with my oldest that in 10 years I’d not only be owning a home but owning THIS home I would have called you crazy!

"It truly was just the right set of situations that placed us here and we are so thankful. My girls love living where I used to live!"

One photo of the front of Nicole's childhood home, with a old photo of her and her sister in front of it. Another set of photos of Nicole's two kids standing in front of the fireplace and then one of Nicole and her sister in the same spot as children.
After moving back in this year, the mum recreated photos like this one with her two girls (top right) standing in the same spot as she and her sister did (bottom right). Source: Supplied

House is a 'time capsule'

Moving back in, what surprised Ms Thatcher-Cottone most is how the previous owners "hadn't changed a thing in the house".

"The wallpaper, floors! Everything was identical! Even the same stove! I was able to bake a cake for my children in the same oven my mom used to make for me," she said.

In an especially heartwarming moment, the mum discovered her name was still written on the window ledge of her old bedroom.

A photo of Nicole as a child washing her hands in the kitchen sink. A photo of Nicole's name still written on the window ledge.
Many things in the home had remained the same. Source: Supplied.

"It was like walking into a time capsule," she said. "In the kitchen my dad had written my grandparent's phone number in case there was ever an emergency and that was still there too!

"My dad used to chase me around the house for fun with this magnet on the fridge. He kept it in his keepsake drawer all these years. The day he came to see the house for the first time, after he left, I was cleaning up and saw he had brought it with him and placed it back on the fridge.

"I couldn’t stop crying. He said 'it’s where it belongs'."

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.