Normally in your twenties you will go in one of two directions when it comes to buying a house. You either stay home with your parents and save as much as possible and buy around early to mid twenties or you move out and rent.
The first will be celebrated as a fate equal to the generations before us. Despite the stories that circulate of Jack and Jill eating grass for a year to buy their £300,000 house, it’s normally backed with a massive gift from their folks to have enough of a deposit.
If I sound salty or jealous it’s partly because I am, however it’s more because these aren’t a representation of the struggle most of us face when buying a house.
I’m ending my long 6 year relationship with renting this weekend. It just hasn’t worked out, I’ve made some mistakes but its just taking too much from me, is what I would say but I’ve actually enjoyed my experience.
Why is Renting a Struggle?
When you save for a house it’s all about sacrifice. You forgive things like holidays, eating out and possibly more. When renting a lot of people have to give these up just to afford a normal lifestyle. Rent can range anywhere from low hundreds to thousands and the return is tiny.
I’ve always led with the idea that we shouldn’t need to have your life compromised when trying to save for a house. Part of life is having a balance, we should be able to enjoy the good and the sacrifice in equal measure otherwise it’ll drive you crazy. This is even more so when renting as you already give a large portion away for rent and you’ll likely be saving for much longer.
I’m saying this from a household with two incomes and having the privilege to be able to have a balance, moreover I’m led to feel guilty for taking a balanced lifestyle and not everyone is able to.
Renting is often thought of in the long term, i.e. ‘you’ll have nothing to show’ at the end, which is true but we need to change that to a short term ‘I’m independent and planning my future’
This brings me back to them Jack and Jill articles or that our past generations had it easier with much cheaper house prices that renters are constantly compared to. Even when renting there is still an expectation to be saving and matching those that had a lot given to them, bought houses at MUCH cheaper prices or have the ability to live comfortably at home.
I have been part of those conversations and spoke to people in a similar position and it’s almost as if renting has a stigma. Your choice to rent and have an independent life doesn’t fit in to the generic house buying formula so it must be wrong.
Combine that with the insecurity you could be asked to move out at any time, the restrictions of personalising your rented property and how expensive it is to start renting and it’s an accomplishment if you do rent.
So How can You be the Exception?
Me and my fiancé have made mistakes since renting, we haven’t always used money wisely but I have no regrets. For a couple in our twenties we have enjoyed holidays to Disney, weekend breaks and buying the things we love.
We’re taking a step back to try and undo those mistakes and finally get our first home. So much so that we’re going to stop renting. This is purely to speed up the process to buy our first home, we could carry on renting and buy a home many years later.
Looking back I would say that I wouldn’t have taken any credit cards out since I started renting. I would have also gone straight into some sort of shared renting situation to reduce the overall costs.
The debate of needing some form of credit card or overdraft to boost your credit score will go both ways but there’s more to that and that’s for another day.
I was fussy and didn’t end up sharing and started immediately paying over £650 a month + service charge for my independence. It was a nice place I rented and real close to my work, but it was tiny. Sharing a place would have given me the same amount of space but a fortune in savings on monthly bills.
Next I would have learnt more about money. I work for a bank now and knowing what I know now it’s night and day in terms of how I approach finances. I’ll do a myth busting article next but the gist is to be careful when and where you borrow (some will be mandatory for a mortgage).
I guess the answer to your question is to be the exception you need to get to the end goal quickly. The longer you rent the harder it is to stop renting and finally buy. You’ll rely on something like a big step in your career or an injection of funds.
Split your costs and reduce your outgoings, its simple to say but hard in practice. As you come to learn about your lifestyle and what costs you need to facilitate it you might realise that the sacrifice is too much and decide renting is your future, and that’s okay!
You also need to enjoy your time and not resent those years you spent renting and saving and thinking how bad it all was. For a lot of people that’s their twenties and thirties, remember to enjoy them the best you can.
The way our country is going it’s likely the moving out age will only increase and renting will be more popular. We need to have a positive outlook on it and understand how we can use it as part of our young adult life.