The British TV host had been living in a small rental apartment since parting ways with HGTV star Christina Haack in September

By Hannah Chubb
June 10, 2021 05:27 PM
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After 10 months of living in a rental studio apartment following his split from Christina Haack in September, Ant Anstead has finally moved into a home of his own in Laguna Beach, California.

The British TV host, 41, has officially received the keys to a charming waterfront property (seen in the video above) he says he instantly knew was the one, and has moved in with his son Hudson, 1, whom he shares with Haack.

"I probably looked at well over 30 houses," the Wheeler Dealers star tells PEOPLE exclusively of his months-long house hunt, sharing that he actually toured what would become his new home back in February and he and Hudson immediately connected with it - but it went off the market before he could make an offer. 

"I was heartbroken when it was no longer available, and I kept going into other houses comparing it to the one I loved," he says. "In fact, I began calling it the Temple House, because it feels like a temple for me. So I kept saying to my realtor, 'It's nice, but it's not the Temple House. It's nice, but the Temple House has this.' And then out of the blue, the seller just came back and was like, 'Okay. You can buy the house.'"

Ant Anstead
Credit: Courtesy of Ant Anstead

Anstead and Hudson moved into the hillside beach house during the last week of May, and are already enjoying everything it has to offer - from the sunlit spaces and vaulted ceilings to the garden out front and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from the back porch. 

"With one really good throw I could probably throw a rock in the sea," Anstead says of his proximity to the water, adding that he measured "350 paces from my front gate to the sand" - a great perk for Hudson, who he notes loves the beach.

Despite everything that makes the home feel perfect for him and his family - his two kids from his first marriage, daughter Amelie 17, and son Archie, 14, live in the U.K., but will be visiting frequently - the automotive expert says that the home definitely needs a lot of work.

Ant Anstead
Credit: Courtesy of Ant Anstead

"It was built in 1929, which is old for Laguna," the father of three says. "It's incredibly run down. I'm going to have challenges with the house." 

"I mean, it's not falling down, but it's not far from falling down," he adds with a laugh, explaining: "There's no heating system, there's no air conditioning, half the wiring doesn't work, the plumbing is really bad, there's no insulation, there are multiple broken windows… so I've had to make some quick temporary changes to make sure it's safe for Hudson. But the bones of it are perfect. In fact, I don't want to change that at all. I just want to update the house in a really sympathetic way."

He plans to do all the renovations himself, he says, and hopes to honor the history of the home while giving it a bit of an "industrial modern" feel, adding touches of glass, metal and dark colors. 

Ant Anstead & Son Hudson
Credit: Ant Anstead/ instagram

"A lot of people don't realize I've actually hosted two home shows and restored multiple homes," he says. "I've done a lot of hands-on stuff myself, so I'm excited to kind of get in there."

Anstead says he's already had an architect come over to help him sort through his ambitions for the home, and figure out his best plan of action. In the meantime, he's been settling in and making sure Hudson feels comfortable, while also making sure Amelie and Archie will have bedrooms of their own when they come visit. 

"Had it not been for COVID, they would've spent half the time here," he says of the older kids, who have been stuck in the U.K. due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions. "So I'm hoping that it's going to be lifted for the summer, and they'll spend the entire summer in California."

Ant Anstead
Credit: Ant Anstead/Instagram

Having space to host friends and family was something that was very important to him throughout the house-hunting process, he says, and he's happy to have found the perfect place to start fresh as a single dad. 

"It's the house of my dreams," he says. "A home is, for me, the foundation of a life, and I've got so much coming up in the next few months, the next few years, that I need a solid base, and the timing of it all is just so perfect."

Anstead currently has several TV projects in the works, including two for Discovery+: Drew's Dream Car, which he will host with Property Brothers's Drew Scott, and Celebrity IOU Joyride, which will feature A-listers like Renee Zellweger, Mary J. Blige, Octavia Spencer, James Marsden and more.

RELATED VIDEO: Ant Anstead on Life & Fatherhood After 'Devastating' Divorce: 'I Realized I'm Worthy of Healing'

Despite the long wait, Anstead admits that spending the last 10 months in his tiny rental - where he moved immediately after moving out of the family home he bought and shared with Haack - was a blessing in disguise.

"I was looking for a house quite quickly [after the split], probably after three or four months, because I felt displaced, I felt homeless," he says. "But for whatever reason, it just didn't work. And I think now, looking back with the benefit of the last nine or 10 months, I've realized that actually, being held in that really simple space, not only does has it meant I've ended up with the Temple House, the house of my dreams, but it's actually meant that I simplified my life. I've realized how little I need, and what's important. I don't need anything but Hudson and my health."

He continues: "All of a sudden, I just had this overwhelming sense of gratitude."

ant anstead
Credit: ant anstead/ instagram

Having grown up in England, assuming California a faraway place he'd only ever see on a screen, Anstead says he wakes up every morning feeling grateful to be in "such a magical part of the world."

"We didn't have a lot when I grew up," he says. "So I had a few moments when I took the keys to the new house, and I just went there on my own with Hudson and we just sat down - well he ran around crazy - and I felt like, wow. This was impossible to me as a child. And those mini, internal celebrations are really important to me, where you pause for a moment, take stock and realize, wow."

"You only get one go at doing this," he continues. "And I really feel privileged I'm doing some cool stuff."