A while ago, I wrote a post on my top tips for finding a spare room or flat to rent.
This is something that, for many, is their only option as the property ladder moves further and further out of site. Of course, this is a woe that the vast majority of twenty and thirty somethings, especially in London, have in common. But did you stop to think that this is yet another area where the boys are better off?
Complaining about house prices is no new sport for us young Brits but things recently went from bad to worse. Open Property Group recently reported the average house price being above £300,000 in the UK (I would rather ignore the London only figure as it may bring me to tears)…how is anyone able to teeter on that first rung of the property ladder let alone move up it? As Joanne Perry stated in a recent article there are two options; Bank of Mum and Dad or be in a relationship. From personal experience this is all too true. Even ‘affordable housing’, while it has extremely attractive deposits and rent, requires a household income that most singletons can only dream of. It all sounds like level pegging so far but there are reasons beyond the property market for single women feeling the sting more than single men.
Many businesses have taken the pledge to help close the gender pay gap but we are still some time away from equal pay becoming a reality. Equal Pay Day hammered this fact home better than any other stat or report could. Last year, on the 9th of November, women began working for free until the end of the year. Not literally, of course, but as an illustration of the gender pay gap, I worked unpaid for almost 2 months of the year in comparison to a male employee. To put things even more into perspective, just before International Women’s Day earlier this year, it came to light that women in the UK will earn an average of £300,000 less than their male counterparts over the course of their careers. This huge, unjustified gap is not news to anyone but have you thought about it in the context of buying a house? If a single woman is consistently earning less than her male equivalents, saving for a deposit will be harder, being approved for a mortgage will be harder, meeting the salary requirements for affordable housing will be harder…it’s not looking good, ladies.
A recent Telegraph article delved into the reasons that women are traditionally worse with money than men. Surprisingly, two thirds of the people in severe debt in the UK are women – our spending habits are, generally, more frivolous and, of course, our income is lower. Couple this with the fact that women make the majority of household purchasing decisions, and are the target market for most adverts (though the sudden surge in yoghurt adverts that focus around a #squad sharing their weight loss secrets may cause you to think quite the opposite) and we don’t stand a chance! Women are in such crisis when it comes to managing our money that there are a host of new businesses which exist specifically to help us stay in the black. So, if saving is harder for women – single or otherwise – buying a house most certainly is.
So, what can we do about it?
Choose wisely – when choosing what company to work for, make sure they value gender diversity and equal pay. You don’t want to end up at a company that may not push you up the career ladder based on conscious or unconscious bias, and you certainly don’t want to be at a company with shady salary practices. The wrong company can have a huge impact financially, but also on your health and wellbeing so do your research and don’t rush into a new job just because you hate your current one!
Clear your debt – we were all lured by the student overdrafts at uni, and many women continue that cycle of borrowing well into ‘real’ grown up life. Before you can even think about purchasing a property, get your finances in check. This Telegraph article about women who have been declared bankrupt has some useful advice on getting yourself out of debt.
Start saving – saving can be hard. Especially in London where there is so much fun to be had! The key is to start small – going from saving £0 a month to £300 a month is going to be a shock to your system, and will probably end up with you transferring the savings back to your regular account! Even just £20 a month is better than nothing, so get your ISA set up and get to it. If you really can’t trust yourself, get a savings account that doesn’t come with a cash card, or you can get a savings plan like the one I have with LV=.
Be realistic – while single women are worse off than single men, the property market is not looking kindly on any of us at the moment. Be realistic about what you can afford and when you will be able to afford it. It may be 5, even 10 years before you feel in a comfortable position to buy a house and that’s okay. Set your goal, decide what you need to get there, and give yourself the time to do it.
The gender pay gap and the ridiculous property market are out of our control, but these tips are completely up to us, and can help us get that first big toe on the rung of the property ladder. Do you have any other tips for budding homeowners? Share with us in the comments!