Written by A Guest Blogger
No inheritance money landed in your bank account yet? No boyfriend/husband with a nice pay packet to go halves with you? Hmmmm, it’s not going to be easy to get on the property ladder. Shared ownerships are an option, but guess what else is? Buying a house with your best mate! That’s what I did over two years ago and I love it.
I can picture your face. Are you raising an eyebrow? Are you nodding saying, “Ahhhh, that’s nice?” While secretly thinking, “Well, that’s all well and good until one of you gets a serious boyfriend and wants out”? Or, are you just wondering how the hell we manage to get on with each other, flashing back to thoughts of messy student flat shares?
Well, let me tell you, it’s bloody great. And actually, it’s my university experience that kick-started this whole idea…
Jessica and I became friends at playgroup, so since the tender age of about 2 or 3. Apparently our first meeting involved an argument over the toy cooker (I can guarantee you that doesn’t happen now). We were friends through school and at 18, left our lovely families in sleepy Somerset and headed for the bright lights of London and three years at university – London College of Communication for me, London College of Music & Media for Jess.
In the first year, I did halls, she lived with her aunt, and in the second year we rounded up a few friends from our courses and all moved in together. Over the years flatmates and boyfriends have come and gone, but Jessica and I have remained living together. That’s nearly 18 years now!
Quite a testament to our friendship and what made us think we should buy together. After all, we’d already paid off our landlady’s mortgage after renting her flat for eight years, so it was about time we invested ourselves.
After years of renting in Battersea and Streatham, we were priced out of actually buying in the south west area, but as die-hard south Londoners we couldn’t face leaving completely, so drifted south east and found the perfect two-bedroom flat in Crystal Palace – a lovely area with pubs, cafes and vintage shops galore. We are on a busy road above a shop, but literally minutes from the beautiful park and train station and, most importantly, the flat was newly-renovated and had two equal-sized bedrooms (no drawing straws required). We went halves on the deposit of £33,500 and split our monthly mortgage payments and household bills – it’s the perfect solution for two single girls.
Often, people have a look of surprise or puzzlement when I say I own a flat with my best friend (of nearly four decades and flatmate of nearly two). All while happily telling me how they’re getting a mortgage with the boyfriend they’ve known all of two years. And I wonder why I’m the one considered to be doing something a bit ‘out there’…?
I know Jessica better than anyone, and vice versa. If you have a flatmate or friend in a similar position to you, why wait for ‘Mr or Mrs Right’ to come along before you hoik yourself up onto the first slippery rung of that notoriously-hard to climb property ladder? Do it with her/him instead.
If one of us wants to move out/rent out/sell their share of the flat for whatever reason in a few years, then we’ll deal with it the same way any two people parting ways would. Except without a heavy heart or a divorce, because we’re friends, so we’ll only be losing our flatmate status, not our friendship status.
BECKY’S 5 TOP TIPS FOR OWNING WITH A FRIEND
1. Be realistic
Our ‘wishlist’ was pretty long and we were never going to get everything we both wanted. Close to the station for Jess. A house with ‘character’ for me. Not a renovation project – both of us! So when looking for flat we had to be practical and make compromises. After 19 flats we found the perfect one for us and just knew immediately. Don’t buy it together if you’re not both 100% happy with it.
2. Don’t skip the boring stuff
Make sure you both have decent life assurance packages, so that one half of the friendship isn’t stuck up sh*t creek without a paddle if something happens to the other half.
3. Get a joint account
All the money for bills, mortgage payments and little savings (for unexpected emergencies) can be transferred into here, so you don’t have to worry that your friend’s new dress was bought with your half of the electricity bill.
4. Be fair with each other
This is like a partnership, so don’t treat your friend like any old flatmate. i.e. don’t drill holes in the wall, just because you really love that surrealist painting. You both own this flat, so don’t go wild on the renovating/decorating without having a chat first.
5. Have a role
Jess cooks, I clean. Jess sorts out the bills, I sort out other random household chores. We’re busy girls with busy lives, so sometimes we cross paths and sometimes we don’t, either way, we generally stick to these roles and get on. I’m not saying you wouldn’t if you don’t, but we found it helps.
Becky Boyce is a Freelance Content Editor, follow her on Instagram @beckyboyce or on LinkedIn