House updates and how I saved for my deposit

In the past I’ve found it incredibly cathartic to use this space to share my experiences of some of the less happy times in my life – and at times I’ve been worried that I’ve overfocussed on the negative or that my speaking about things being difficult I might seem ungrateful for the many wonderful things that the last few years have brought me.  So it’s important for me now to reflect and be grateful for just how perfect 2019 has been so far, and how happy I feel at everything it has brought me.  Although at the end of 2018 I decided that I wanted a slow, stable year to try and ‘bed in’ and slow down, the universe had other plans (as usual) and I now find myself with a new job, a new house and in a new relationship.

On the 31 May I moved into my new house after 8 months of living with my parents.  The house is a two-bedroom property in a new build estate and it has been exactly what I was searching for – close enough to town that I can get a taxi in for drinks, but far enough out that there are dog walks straight from my front door and it’s quiet and secluded.  One of the great things about buying a new build is that you really start off with a blank canvas – I was able to pick the carpets, flooring, worktops and cupboards etc and then all of the walls are white and everything is very neutral and plain.  Because of that I haven’t had to do any real DIY or decorating and I’ve been enjoying the really fun parts of moving – styling bookshelves, deciding where frames, candles and mementos should go, and moving things around until they feel like they work in the space.

new house and mid century chairs

I’ve also been taking the time to just enjoy being there and settle in – one thing I’m trying to be better at is limiting the pressure I put on myself for things to be perfect immediately, and accepting that it takes time to unpack and create a usable space (much like with the new job, I won’t be operating at 100% immediately and I have to give myself the time to learn and grow in the role).

I also received a wonderful surprise of a £900 MOT bill last month which wiped out my furniture budget – meaning that I have to accept that there are things I won’t be able to get immediately, like a bed for the spare room, or even a wardrobe! (Though I am a little attached to the clothes rail I’m using in the meantime).  My main two areas that I want to get sorted when I’m able to save up a little more are the garden (getting some nice garden furniture and planting some flowers and veggies) and getting the spare room set up with a daybed, wardrobe and dressing table.  It will be great to be able to have people over to stay as my last place was a one-bedroom flat so I missed being able to properly entertain and have people come and visit for the weekend.

bathroom

One of the questions I’ve had several times on instagram when I’ve shared house updates is how I managed to save for my deposit, especially being on my own.  The truth is a mix of saving over the last year, a loan my parents gave me about 14 years ago when I bought my first flat, and profit I’ve made from previous properties, predominantly the house I bought with my ex that we renovated a few years ago.  It’s important to me to be transparent and appreciate my privilege in being able to have my parents loan me some money all those years ago to get on the property ladder, and whilst it now represents only a percentage of the deposit for this house I can’t pretend that it wouldn’t have been much more difficult if they hadn’t offered to support me.

In order to afford this property however I did have to save hard to top up my deposit in order to secure a mortgage.  I came off the property ladder in 2018 to spend some time renting and deciding where I wanted to base myself, and whilst I considered a few options for where to place my deposit in the meantime (including using a portion of it to create a personal investment plan using an investment app from Wealthify) ultimately I ended up placing it in an ISA in the meantime whilst I rented and tried to save.  When I then moved in with my parents I really stepped up the saving and made a lot of sacrifices – not going out as much, eating out far less often, no ASOS orders and no extravagant skincare purchases! I had an ambitious savings goal and I got there by the skin of my teeth! It’s also worth mentioning that many new build developers will allow an element of negotiation about things like stamp duty, flooring, and other fees and I was able to make it more affordable that way.

It’s so much harder to save for a deposit nowadays and I know so many people find it difficult.  My main tips are to consider whether a ‘project house’ is feasible – my ex and I really boosted our deposit by buying a house and doing it up several years ago, and the majority of work was able to be done ourselves (like stripping wallpaper, laying laminate floor, pulling up flooring, repainting and removing stud walls).  If you are lucky enough to spend some time living with parents to reduce your outgoings in some way then that’s really a sacrifice worth making (though I appreciate it’s not an option for everyone).  I analysed every direct debit and outlay; negotiating costs like my Sky subscription and foregoing others like my Audible and essential oil subscriptions.  Even the small things like making my lunch every day instead of going to the shop, deleting the ASOS app  and unsubscribing from tempting newsletters from retailers definitely helped! I spent an awful lot of weekends just watching Netflix rather than going out or eating at restaurants.  It was a tough slog but so worth it.  If you already have funds available I’d also recommend getting financial advice as to whether there are ways to grow what you already have, considering investments, savings plans and ISAs, or even things like Premium Bonds (but please, please don’t do this without getting advice or considering the level or risk you’re willing to take with your money).

Are you currently saving for a deposit? What are your tips for boosting your funds?

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