Happy Sunday, Sweet Peas!
So, about last weekend… well! In case you missed it, I spent a week writing a post for last weekend, I scheduled it for the Saturday morning and the post was published as planned. However, several hours later, I received a few messages that the post was up, but it was blank! The whole article has been deleted. Even now I am a little worried as there is a ‘failure to save’ sign in the corner. But we will give it a go!
As the title suggests, I recently brought and moved into my own place. And in today’s post, I am going to share with you how I was able to do it, on my own, two and a half years post-University.
I would also like to point out that I live in the UK, so a lot of this information is based around our systems – however, some parts can be pretty universal to most countries.
Get a Job!
Sounds simple and obvious, but I have had a lot of people in my life express to me how lucky I am and presume that my new living arrangement is down to my parents (irritated sigh). No. I got a job straight out of University and from the moment I was receiving a paycheque I was saving for my deposit – but more on that later.
Now, I know ‘getting a job’ just like that is not that easy. But a rabbit hole a lot of my peers fell into after either leaving school or university was assuming that they were going to walk straight into a high paid job that is exactly what they want to do and is the reason they went to university in the first place. And don’t get me wrong, a few people actually did this. But they are the exemption to the rule. When you first get out into the big wide world, no matter what grade you got in your degree, you are still a newbie and before companies are going to start wanting you left, right and centre, you need to get some experience. Don’t approach a job search with the belief that you are too good for certain jobs – at this point in the game, just get a job. You can worry about your career in the next step.
Here in the UK, we have apprenticeships which are essentially a way for someone to get qualifications and skills from a legitimate provider, have the course paid for by an employer all while being paid a wage as you learn. There are a lot of negative assumptions about apprenticeships. The wages are low – this can be true, but it depends on what company you work for. Generally, as soon as you have passed your apprenticeship your wage with the company will rise, or at the very least you will now be a lot more qualified to look for a job elsewhere within a high wage bracket. At the end of the day, a low wage is better than no wage. People also think that apprenticeships are just for teenagers – this is not the case anymore. A lot of apprenticeship schemes take on anyone, which is great if you are looking to do a complete career change.
As soon as I got out of University, I realised that I didn’t have practical work experience. So, I did a Business Administration apprenticeship with the Government. Was it well paid? – no. Was I ever panning to stay in the company forever? – no. Did it give me experience in a field and allow me to get a better job a year later? – YES! Did it allow me to start saving away money for a deposit? – Yes!
If an apprenticeship doesn’t sound like your thing, or you are actually thinking about becoming a freelancer, then I highly suggest a part-time job to go along with it. Free-Lancing and being self-employed is amazing but it also makes getting a decent mortgage a lot harder. While you are building up your business, get yourself a part-time job doing anything! Not only is it steady money coming in which you can start putting away, but it is also a steady income to show on your mortgage application and could be the difference between a few thousand pounds!
Save as much as you can!
Again, sounds obvious but I hear time and time again people saving into an open account and then dipping into it. Don’t!
Save your money into an ISA, or an account which you would literally need to go into the bank to get your money. It makes it less accessible, so you are less likely to randomly dip into it.
Literally, save as much of your paycheque as you can. Don’t just save £50 here and there. If you want to save quite quickly, you need to be committed. I saved between £500 and £800 a month, depending on what other bills I needed to pay during that month. This was just over half of my paycheque per month. If you can spare it, this is the ratio I would recommend trying to save – work out how much you literally need to every month to survive and save the rest! Your future self will thank you for it!
Don’t Rent! (If you can help it)
I know for some people, there is no option but to rent. However, if you have the option of living at home or somewhere with little to no rent – do it! It doesn’t matter how much your family annoys you, it isn’t forever and again, your future self will thank you! After I left Uni, I lived at my parents for three years. There were six people living in the house, my sister and I were vicious to each other. My dad and I didn’t get on either, but I stuck it out because my mum only charged me for food and amenities (ie; if I racked up a large phone bill, I paid for it.) Because I didn’t have to find rent each month, I was able to save the way I described in the previous point. This made a huge difference to being able to afford a property when I did.
Obviously, if you have no choice but to rent try and find somewhere with as cheap rent as possible. It may not be the greatest apartment/house, but when you think long term – you won’t be there forever!
Research the area
You probably have an idea of where you would like to live, and you probably have a vague idea of how much you are going to be able to afford. A trap I fell into quite early on, was only looking at the price of properties and ignoring where exactly they were. If there is a large property for a really low price, there is likely a reason – and not a good one. Make sure you do your research. Some places are cheaper to buy than others, but make sure it’s not because the area is…for lack of a better word…dodgy. You are going to be living there for a while, so make sure it’s somewhere you are going to feel save and actually want to live!
Shop Around for Mortgages
Mortgages are definitely not a one-shop stop – there are so many great options out there for first-time buyers however, make sure you do your research and compare. Someone I know got a Help to Buy mortgage, which meant he could afford a house with a really low deposit, but once he moved into his property his mortgage payments each month were sky-high because he had to pay it off sooner!
I ended up going with a traditional mortgage, which meant my deposit was still the usual 10%, but my monthly payments are a lot more reasonable because I have been able to spread it out more. So, what seems a great option on paper is not always the best way to go. Do your research, try multiple banks and make sure you get the best deal – some banks also offer free legal with your mortgage. If this is the case, have a look at the reviews and if they are pretty positive, I would highly recommend taking it. Legal fees can be very high, and you want to cut down costs where and when you can.
Conveyancers are a pain
Speaking of legal – the stereotype is that conveyancers are awful to deal with. The stereotype is pretty much true (sorry if you are a conveyancer). Having both worked closely with them as a career and from the perspective of a buyer they can be a nightmare. But they are a necessary evil! My advice for dealing with one is to remain calm but be persistent! Don’t be afraid to call up every week for an update. Make sure they become familiar with your name, so you don’t fade into the mass pile of their cases. Some solicitors are easier to deal with than others – I was lucky enough to have an amazing solicitor, however, the seller of my property had a god awful one (literally, her reviews on google were shocking! At one point she started blaming me for her mistakes – luckily for me, I have experience in this sector which was a real help at calling out this woman’s BS). But no matter how awful your solicitor is, do not lose your temper with them. At the end of the day, you want something from them! It is likely to be a long road, be prepared for that – remember calm but persistent!
Go to see the properties! Quickly!
Ah, I feel like I am pointing out really obvious things, but this is something my sister is currently not doing, and it is driving me crazy! If a property comes onto the market in your price range and in an area you like, go and see it as soon as possible! The housing market is like a weird game and it is a competition – there are other players out there looking for the same things as you. To win, you have to get in there first! Go and see the property. Actually, being inside and seeing it first hand will give you an instant vibe about the place which you wouldn’t get simply from pictures.
For example, the day I went to view my property I saw two different apartments in the same complex. The first one was nice, but I didn’t think I was going to like it because it looked too small. The second one I thought I was going to love because it had a larger bedroom and a balcony. I ended up buying the first property. The moment I walked in I felt like I was home, it was bright and clean and everything I needed. The reason I didn’t go with the second property was that the moment I walked in I wanted to leave, I felt like I was going to be sick. The current owners smoked in the apartment and they had tried to mask the smell of smoke by burning incense! I personally do not smoke cigarettes and I knew even when they were gone, the smell was going to be so hard to get out of the walls and the carpet.
In a nutshell – always go to see a property and bear in mind someone else might be looking at the very same things as you.
My last point is simple but deep. Be sure that what you are buying is what you really want. A property is a very serious commitment. Before you sign any papers, make sure everything is in order and correct; make sure everything feels right. If in doubt, ask your solicitor to clarify what you are unsure of, or ask a family member or friend who has gone through the process for their advice.
I hope this somewhat helps and gives you an idea of how to go about getting a property. The whole process wasn’t easy, and it was three years of very hard work, several mental breakdowns and a few jobs changes – but it was so worth it in the end.
Have you recently got onto the property ladder? Let me know about your experience in the comments!