‘I bought my second home at 27 after leaving London to move to a commuter town – now my commute is better than it was on the London Underground’
Imagine the typical Londoner selling their house in the big smoke to move to the commuter town suburbs, and you’ll likely be thinking of a 30-something family with a couple of kids in need of a bigger garden and better schools.
However, that’s not the only demographic finding a new home outside the M25: 27-year-old Hannah Nichols has recently bought her second home in Luton after leaving London for the Bedfordshire town.
Hannah bought her first property in Southfields, south west London in 2019. She had been saving adamantly for several years, but a bereavement in her family and subsequent inheritance put her in the position to buy her first flat for £375,000. She lived there for a few years, letting out her second bedroom to her friend to help with mortgage payments, but then Covid hit and Hannah re-evaluated her priorities.
“I was looking for about a year, but I couldn’t really find anything that I wanted,” Hannah said of finding her first home in London. “It was all high rise buildings, but then I found one on the ground floor of a three-storey block, but it was granny-style so we did up a few of the rooms.”
READ MORE: ‘I bought my first home in London at 30 after saving up for almost half my life’
Hannah said that when Covid restrictions began to lift and people were able to go for a walk to see a friend, but not use public transport, she realised how isolated she felt in London. Her friends were all on the other side of the city, and like many Londoners she didn’t have a car. After spending some time back at her parents’ house in Hertfordshire, she realised how much she loved being near her friends, her family and the countryside, and the freedom of having her own transport.
She also thought she might like to live by herself, so she decided to downsize and move to a commuter town so she could easily access her job in the city while still being close to her family and the countryside.
“I work in HR at a law firm, and my office is in Moorgate, so I get the train from Luton Airport Parkway to City Thameslink, which is about 35 minutes, and then I walk 15 minutes down Fleet Street and through St Paul’s to the office. It’s a lovely little walk,” she said of her new commute.
“I have found the commute better than it was in London, because it was the District Line, standing up the whole way, very slow. I also like the way than I can just go and explore places – I can drive, I can get the train to St Albans or Milton Keynes, rather than being reliant on TfL: the District Line, where I was, was closed every weekend.”
Hannah’s mortgage on her one-bedroom, new build flat in Luton is around £400 per month, and the flat is worth £267,000. She sold her London flat for £395,000, enabling her to reduce her mortgage by £150-£200 per month.
She’s loving her new flat, which is in Strawberry Star’s Lu2on development.
“The development’s really nice, the concierge is great – really useful for packages and friendly. Living by yourself, it’s quite nice to have someone say good morning to you before you go to work,” she said.
“I haven’t had any snagging issues or anything like that, which is what everyone was telling me to be prepared for [with a new build]. I had a small issue with the shower and it got fixed within two hours of reporting the issue.”
As advice for other young people looking to get on the housing ladder, Hannah has shared details of her own saving methods. She said it was “all about budgeting”, estimating how much she’d spend, for example, on dinner plans with friends and co-ordinate what you’re spending for the rest of the week or month around that.
“I did reduce the ‘nice stuff’ I was buying, so I didn’t really buy many clothes or things like that for a little while,” she said. “My friends were throwing things out quite regularly, though, so there was always something there, you weren’t missing out completely.
“I’ve got a spreadsheet where every Monday I write down what’s in my current account, what’s in my savings account and on my Monzo. My salary goes into my current account, and I then put some of that into savings, and necessities like groceries or travel goes out from my current account.
“I allocate ‘pocket money’ to Monzo, so that is my pot for going out for dinner, for buying coffee or things like that, and I can keep a better eye on it.”
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One final piece of advice Hannah has to share for those buying their first home is to not worry too much about choosing the perfect location.
“When choosing where to live, I think it takes people quite a long time to figure out whether it’s the right area,” she said, “but how I went about it is [thinking] that your first home probably isn’t going to be forever. It is cheaper to buy rather than rent, so just because you’re not sure where you want to buy, that shouldn’t make you scared and prefer to rent.
“You can rent somewhere for three years and it goes in the blink of an eye, similarly if you buy somewhere and you’re there for three years it goes quickly too.”
Have you bought a home in London before you turned 30? We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at [email protected]
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