Here’s one solution to the London housing crisis which I spotted: store your stuff in a disused telephone box. I wouldn’t rate the security but it was very close to Tate Britain and therefore a Zone One address.
With property prices (and rental) in the capital so high at the moment, it’s a situation my friend EJ might consider. She’s in her 40s, and a Londoner by birth, who for one reason or another didn’t get on the property ladder after graduation. Now she can’t afford to buy in her home town even on a half-decent salary. Mainly because she’s got to pay nearly £700 a month in rent and that’s just for a room. So, with a limited ability to save, will she be able to buy even a one-bedroom flat, and outside London, before she retires?
The answer for most people is to move in with their parents to save on living costs. But EJ’s folks live abroad. However, she does travel frequently for work, which gave us a few ideas for speeding up the saving process.
1. Check into a hostel on days not spent travelling
EJ spends so much on rent yet is hardly ever at home. She could, in theory, give up the flat, put her possessions in storage and live out of a suitcase, staying at cheap hostels when she isn’t using work-funded accommodation. She'd save on council tax and utilities too!
2. Rent out the room on Airbnb
EJ could sublet her room to short-term visitors when she’s absent. This requires an understanding flatmate willing to hand over keys/clean towels to guests though.
3. Become a property guardian
For minimal rent, you (and sometimes with others) look after a vacant building such as offices, schools or churches. The space may be ace but facilities can be limited …
This is a service which matches older homeowners with a spare room and younger people needing a place to live. For below-market rent, the sharer must spend a certain amount of time per week providing company and helping with chores. EJ would have to manage her time carefully to satisfy work and sharing commitments. Check out www.sharedlivesplus.org.uk.
5. Live in Birmingham
It’s a helluva commute but EJ’s work provides a car and the HS2 train, when it gets built, could cut current journey times.
Over a couple of glasses of pink wine, it all seems like brilliant fun. Sadly, it’s no joke, not just for EJ but many other people in a similar position. And if the situation carries on, what will it mean for our children wanting to start careers in the capital in not so many years’ time?
See the SMM guide for first-time buyers here.