Leigh Kendall, a Communications Manager from Bedford, tells us why she's in no rush to get on the property ladder.
An Englishman’s home is his castle, so they say. Well, it is if you can afford it. We Brits have long been obsessed with home ownership. Turn on the telly and you’ll find no end of programmes helping people find that perfect home to buy. Now, I love those shows too (probably because I’m really nosy and can look at other people’s houses from the comfort of my sofa), but tears come to my eyes when they mention the prices.
We all know that house prices in the UK are at an all-time high. My partner and I rent a two bedroom flat (not that anyone could ever sleep in the second bedroom – it’s ‘storage space’). We’d love to own our own home one day, but know we aren’t going to any time soon - and we’re quite relaxed about it.
Sure, I’d love to update our 1970s kitchen and bathroom, and I’m itching to paint over the magnolia walls in the lounge. On the other hand, I’m glad to have my weekends DIY-free, with just the housework to worry about and the landlord to call if anything goes wrong.
Call me over-sensitive, but it seems like for many people in the UK, home ownership is a marker of success and maturity. Sure, it’s great to own a home if you’re financially secure or if you were lucky enough to get on the ladder before prices went crazy, but it’s not the be all and end all.
When conversation turns to where you live, the assumption is that you own your home. Eyebrows are raised when they discover that I rent and am happy to do so, for the time being anyway. We may not be able to choose the colour of the walls, but we live in a great area that we wouldn’t be able to afford if we bought. Moreover, our flat is our home.
"What’s the point of overstretching yourself financially at too young an age, when the world is your oyster?"
The pressure to own a property landed more than a few people in a financial pickle in the days of 100% mortgages. What’s the point of overstretching yourself financially, often at too young an age, when the world is your oyster?
Ten years ago, house prices were rather more reasonable. My partner and I had a decent amount of money saved; enough for a house deposit, you might say. What did we do with the cash? We went travelling for two years. We don’t regret it for a second. Those two years offered more experiences and memories than bricks and mortar ever could.
We’ve looked around new build developments that offer shared ownership to get you that all-important first step on the property ladder. What a depressing way to spend a valuable weekend! They tend to be poorly-designed and small, with no space to even swing a cat, let alone build a home.
People see renting as throwing money away, or helping pay someone else’s mortgage. I can see their argument. But while house prices – and deposits – remain extortionate, I’m going to continue renting.
I could go without luxuries and save like a demon to get that deposit. But where’s the fun in that? Should I get to 50, I would give myself a pat on the back and think “well, the walls are the colour I always wanted and the kitchen and bathroom are terribly modern, but what happened to my flirty thirties?”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge people of my age who have their own place, nor am I jealous. Different people have different priorities. Just don’t judge me for being a renter.
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Picture credit: Rex Features