Housing and Sustainability
Posted on 21/08/2012
We rented our first flat together in August of 2006 (a few months after our daughters first birthday), at the time paying almost £600 per month for a two bedroom flat was incredibly hard, but times have moved on since then and fortunately I'm now earning around three times the amount I was in 2006 - I have damn good reasons for working hard and pushing myself as hard as possible, but I doubt I'll ever discuss these reasons publicly.
We're now living in a nice(r) three bedroom house which gives us almost everything we need, but the effects of the recession have hit us hard. Don't get me wrong, we're a hell of a lot better off than we ever were six years ago, we don't need to scrimp and save just to get by, nor do I panic as much now when a big bill comes through the most box - tho I to tend to stress and get pissed off when we have several large bills at one go (Car Tax, MOT, Tenancy renewal, Quarterly Gas & Electric bills are all due at the end of April). However, in terms of one of the most important things of all, we're still stuck.
I'm talking of course of purchasing our own house, not only does renting feel like we're throwing away money but it also lacks any safety net.
We're currently in our third rented property; we quickly moved out of our first flat when we realised that it wasn't fit to live in, constant mould, single glazed windows, a heating system that only worked when it wanted to and holes in the roof were just a few of the problems we encountered.
Next we moved into an older style Victorian end-of-terrace, this was a beautiful house, let down only by the lack of safe parking and being located on a busy road, we were there for around 18 months before the landlady decided she wanted to move back in.
Our third (and current) property gives us significantly less room for what was initially the same rent as our previous property. But in return is in a quieter, safer location (and it has grass in the back garden which is a must for the kids). Several months after moving in, we were told that the landlord wanted to sell. We set about looking again and found a nearby property which we liked the look of, conscious of the fact that we'd struggled to come up with the first months rent & deposit for our current house, we didn't know if we could manage to do it all over again so soon after moving.Fortunately, our landlord had a change of heart, but this was a very strong reminder of just how vulnerable we are. Just as well really - a few weeks later a car crashed through the garden wall of the house we were looking at moving to and shortly after that one was put up for sale as well...
The point of all this is that renting in the current market isn't safe, but between the current price levels, inflation on everyday goods, gas, electricity and petrol prices, neither is it possible to put enough money to one side each month to save a mortgage deposit. While we're trying to save money, the price of renting is creeping up, if we had to move house again right now, we'd find ourselves paying an additional £150 a month more than we are at the moment simply because the demand for rented accommodation is pushing prices higher and higher.
I feel that my sister and I were very lucky growing up, we lived in a nice detached house and each had huge bedrooms, I want to be able to do the same for my kids but living so close to London (we're still almost an hours train journey from the city) it's impossible to do. Several years ago, the company I was working for at the time gave me the opportunity to move to Leeds, this offer included six months rent free. Unfortunately circumstances couldn't let us do that, however for the last 12 months we've been considering something similar once again; perhaps not as far as Leeds.
This is a generalisation, but the further north you go, the cheaper rental and housing purchase prices become, pay grades are slightly lower but not by a great deal, it'd just be a case of finding the right job, and making sure that job doesn't pay significantly different to what I'm earning right now. I'm a little worried about taking such a drastic step, but as any parent will tell you, when it comes to ensuring your children's future safety, you'll do anything.