Buying a home: 4 major reasons why it might not suit your lifestyle as a young professional
Updated: Jan 21
First time buyer Ellie, 24, on her real-life journey to buying – or not buying - a home…
At the risk of stating the obvious, saving money to buy your first home is no mean feat.
To set the scene, financial independence and a great lifestyle are the two most important factors for me as a single young professional.
We all know becoming a first time buyer will improve our financial security, if we can get there, but how will it affect one’s lifestyle? I’m talking social events, drinking, brunch, adventures and holidays.
I thought I was ready to buy: supposedly I’m in a job I would stay in and settled comfortably in a good area.
However, I didn’t truly realise how my first home would affect me. The journey led me to rethink and reassess my situation.
Spoiler alert - I pulled out whilst under offer after realising 4 major hurdles with buying a home.
1. Saving and behaving for thy property craving
This is the first step most will find the biggest challenge. That really high paying job and cheap rent (good one) makes
saving seem really simple, right?
We are constantly told the odds are stacked against us and we will be renting for the rest of our lives. I can kind of see why, especially as a single individual.
Just to be the ultimate fun sponge, here’s some interesting facts for you:
Reports by Resolution Foundation and Hampton International state say 50% of millennials and Gen Z are predicted to be renting in their 40’s (I bloody well hope not) and it will take a single person on average nearly 6 years to afford a 5% deposit or 17 years to a afford a 15% deposit if you’re not getting all those surprise salary increases.
I mean that is a hell of a long time to live with your parents or rent. So what can we do? Sacrifice our lifestyle for a long duration?
Don’t worry I will get to the genius answer I’ve discovered, but a few more reasons first.
2. My dream home with unicorns
I had a great imagination as to what spectacular home I would live in.
I started looking online at Rightmove and Zoopla and some of the homes were epic!
I guessed a budget, so I was looking at some rather luxurious places, but not being entirely realistic.
After a few searches, I went into a real estate agent. They kindly reduced my budget aspirations, taking into account my deposit and the mortgage I could get off my salary.
I went in thinking ‘yeah I’m going to buy a home’ and came out thinking ‘oh crap my ideas were very distorted’.
It is quite disheartening when you realise what you can afford with all your savings, and that’s not even the worst of it…brace yourselves.
3. Someone call the fire brigade because I’m over heating
After meeting a real estate agent, the (appropriate) searches begun.
I know what you’re thinking - this is where the fun is at. It really isn’t! I won’t lie to you I was bored after the first viewing. Being a complete newbie in the property world, I had no idea what to ask, what to say and what to look for in an apartment, other than the basics like – ‘oh fab it has a front door that locks, there is a bathroom, kitchen and a bedroom’.
However, there are far more things you need to be looking out for: like plug sockets - are they placed appropriately for you? Where are the radiators and how many? What’s the insulation like? Is there any damp? What’s the water pressure like? I mean the list is extortionate.
Along with all that, you are hoping for that ‘vibe’. A place that dazzles you and has some panache. It’s a tough find, I mean, almost impossible!
But after all this, I thought I found my home. It was truly great. It had everything I thought I needed.
So, after the viewings, the process of negotiating starts. I don’t know about you, but I was not taught how you even approach this. I knew the asking price, but I was unsure how much I could offer under. I’m no expert and I didn’t want to offend or seem like a joke if I go too low. As if this wasn’t intense enough, legal procedures then come into play along with surveys contributing to whether ‘yeah you made the right decision newbie’ or ‘you are so stupid to offer that’.
Once you pass all these steps – yep I say pass as if its like a game show - you must complete each stage to be worthy of the next super challenge. You now need to consider the financial pressure (some already taken with surveys and solicitors fees) of decorating, moving and maintenance costs along with classic household bills and paying quite a bit or mortgage. Your monthly salary is basically drained from all the extras.
4. Hold your horses, my bucking life is complicated
Here comes the plot twist. Well it turns out I wanted flexibility, to be able to change careers and completely turn my life upside down.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘classic indecisive young professional’. But for me, buying a 1 bed flat became a limitation with transaction costs. I realised I would have to commit to it for circa 3 years for the transaction costs to be worth it.
Maybe I should have known this earlier, but like I said, no one ever really mentions it and the dream for independence and becoming a first time buyer can be quite powerful. For those English buffs out there, you could say this was my lightbulb moment.
I learned that your first-time buyer dream home, well, is going to be smaller than you expect.
The social experience in a 1 bed flat, with amazing space and a roof terrace / garden, doesn’t really exist in a first-ti
me buyer’s budget. It’s more like dinner parties in… Nando’s.
Just the whole process from saving to being under offer is draining on your lifestyle.
So, to be honest this was the end of my first-time buyer journey for now.
Realistically what I and most young professionals crave in their lifestyle are experiences with friends. Buying a home doesn't help this.