My blogs are often sports-related reviews that expose either the euphoric highs of athlete life (events that go to plan, training camps in Europe and end of season breaks), or the lows (collisions with vans, races that suck and bike packs that go backwards).
This time, I want to write something a little different. This one addresses (or more so speculates) on the currently much discussed topic of the property ladder, and where we are going wrong. Turning 25 last month, I am aware of many of my friends facing this looming purchase, using money we don’t have to secure that all important (so society says) first home.
I went home the other week to Devon to a pile of post. I never get post. Mum always says if I want hand written mail then I should write to someone. Seems like a great idea until you realise a card and a stamp will cost more than a tank of petrol. Anyway, this letter kindly reminded me that I have £5.34 in my pension. That would last me until Tuesday in my first week of retirement, maybe Wednesday around coffee time if inflation slows down. The other letter was about my student loan and the hundreds of pounds interest it has gained over the last four years. I can’t remember what the figure was, but I’m pretty sure there were three zeros on the end. Let’s be honest, there was never going to be a good time to open either of these letters.
Also whilst at home, I came down to breakfast one morning to find a clip from the newspaper, which I can only assume was left for me, titled “if you want a house, stop eating smashed avocados on toast”. The general point of this post was that if getting on the property ladder is as hard as our generation is making out, why are we spending hundreds a year on coffees and meals out (though this article focused specifically on the current trend of health fanatics ordering avocados on toast). With or without avocados, the property ladder is brutal but nonetheless this article had a point. Although I’ve never ordered avocados, I did start drinking coffee last year and I am aware of the pennies slipping away on hot beverages whether it be with a friend or at a motorway service station. If I spend say, £5 on coffee a week, that adds to over £250 a year. For the average earner or city commuter, I imagine it’s more like four or five coffees a week. That’s about £650…and I’m being conservative working on the basis a coffee costs £2.50. If someone handed me £250 lump sum cash, there’s no way I would spend it on coffee granules and milk…
So, I decided to rename one of my bank accounts (I have four, most of which read £0.00 and NatWest send me a text every Friday at 06.00 reminding me of this) “Coffee Cull”. Basically, every time I resist the urge to ‘grab’ a coffee, I transfer £2.50 into this account. Thus far, I have saved £27.50. HA! - more than my pension. Grab yourself a thermos, PG tips and UHT milk folks, this sh%!s about to get real.
Surprisingly enough, Mum and Dad didn’t leave the newspaper cutting out at breakfast about how parents are now the 5th biggest mortgage provider for our generation…don’t worry guys, only a few more Frappuccino’s and I’ll be there. My big aim for 2017 is to get on the property ladder, much to the amusement of my parents who think this is as likely as a EuroMillions win. I want to buy a safe distance from my parent’s house, you know, close enough that you can swop keys and they invite me for a Sunday roast, but far enough away that they won't want to commute to mine. Jokes. Even if I wanted I wouldn’t be able to afford a property within a twenty-mile radius of ma and pa. Well played guys, well played.
However perseverance prevails, and the aim is still to buy within Devon which due to being a holiday destination, doesn’t play into the hands of a first-time buyer. To begin with, two bedrooms was a must…my friends are dotted ALL over the United Kingdom due to bi-annual house moves as a kid (thanks folks) and I would love to be able to put them up. The other must was a garden, or outdoor space of sorts whether it be a balcony or courtyard. I’m an easily stressed sort and fresh air often sorts most problems.
So, you enter all your search parameters on RightMove (fave app), enter the location and hit search. 16 results. Whoops – non-retirement only. 8 results. The world is my oyster. Mum and dad advise me to ‘review my expectations’, and remind me that the square-footage of their first apartment in London now fits into their living room and that’s after forty years of working their way up the property ladder. Fine, lower expectations and reset search. Sometimes the search criteria get’s really out of hand and before I know it my maximum budget is “no limit” and minimum is £20,000,000 searching in Chelsea and Sandbanks. My little ‘saved properties’ tab on RightMove is full of ‘excellent for first time buyer’ priced properties, except for my ultimate dream home on Dartmoor with 20 acres, 8 stables, a swimming pool and no neighbours.
Bump. Back to reality.
But genuinely, I am so excited to even be in a position to contemplate buying my first digs. After years of moving around and living out a suitcase the thought of having ONE ADDRESS for all my hand written mail to go to is riveting. I’m more than happy with a project, in fact, I would LOVE a project ‘cause ultimately that is what will increase the value of your house. Not literally resurrecting the ashes of a house from the ground but you know, ripping up floors, painting (what’s the crack at the moment with yellow walls? Vom) and saving up for a new kitchen for what will be the least used room in my house. So, this is it kids! The twenty-something years we craved as teenagers when we had too much sass and thought we had life sussed. When we looked up at the big kids who got to sit on chairs in school assembly not on the floor. We made it - this is EXCITING!
So, watch this space. I’ve already offered to host Christmas 2017 (so far it’s a bring your own chairs, food, fire wood, cutlery and booze affair) and hope very much to pull it off.