When we were in the process of buying our studio flat, I was more than a little nervous about the possibility we’d feel cramped in the space.
I wanted a one or two bedroom home, ideally, but since it would be a complete pain trying to get a mortgage here in the UK, and on top of that, it probably would make our lives a lot harder to have to scrape together large sums to pay back a mortgage each month, we decided having a home that we could buy in cash would be ideal no matter how cramped we felt in it. At least with a place completely mortgage free, we’d always have peace of mind – that if something ever happened to our job (blogging is pretty secure, but you never really know with how fast the internet changes), if anything ever happened to our health, whatever the case may be, we would never be homeless.
On top of that, if we wanted a house or a second, larger flat later on, we could buy one. But if we had trouble with money there, we could always sell and come back to this studio flat of ours that we paid for in cash.
So if I’m to tally up the scores for each side, it’d look something like this:
Mortgaging a 2-Bedroom Home
- Will go up in value more than a studio flat.
- Will take up a big chunk our monthly income, but more of our savings will end up in a trustworthy, hard asset.
- Interest on mortgages is currently extremely low.
- Very little risk we would ever actually not be able to pay the mortgage payments.
Buying a Studio Flat in Cash
- No mortgage payments to make each month.
- Can save up more money to have a large emergency fund or to use toward a second property.
- No paperwork, dealing with banks, or hassle when it came to purchasing a property.
- Quicker purchase of a property since we don’t have to get a mortgage first.
- More bargaining power when purchasing a property, since we’re the ideal buyer.
- Have a home that will essentially never be able to be taken away from us.
- Can use the studio flat as an office even if we end up buying a second, larger home to live in later.
- Have a backup property in case we buy a second home and can no longer afford it; can always sell the new property and move back into our studio flat.
- We’d have enough money left over each month that we’d be able to renovate the property to suit our needs, to buy new appliances if we needed them, and to buy all the furniture we’d like to have very quickly.
Buying a studio flat clearly won. But again – there was still the matter of, if we did buy a studio flat, whether we would be happy enough in it or whether we’d feel much too cramped, since we both have to live and work in whatever we ended up buying.
Didn’t matter, though, because the security of buying a flat in cash was worth (to us) a potential experiment on our sanity. We’d been living together in single rooms prior to this – for 2 over years, actually – first living with my grandmother while tying up loose ends before moving from Canada to the UK, then moving into a single room at my parents for a couple months before we hopped on a plane, and finally, living in a bedroom at Sue’s the first few months of being in the UK. We did have access to the rest of the house in these situations, however. But hey – the studio we purchased wasn’t a single room. It’s a studio with a separate kitchen that’s technically big enough to hold a desk to work in. We had much more space in the main room than any of the rooms we’d temporarily lived in combined. So things shouldn’t have been so bad.
My guess was that it would be hard, and quite honestly, it really hasn’t been. Yes, there are days when I really feel like I need my own space, and I’m sure there are many days when Thomas feels the same, but when you get down to it – are these days really worth the financial hit we likely would’ve taken and the mental worry over possibly not being able to make enough money for the mortgage each month? No, not to us. We’ve been there, having monthly expenditure up real high because of mortgage payments on a property. It screws with you in ways, I’d argue, living with another person 24/7 couldn’t. Of course, Thomas and I could just be weird people who are completely abnormal for being able to spend as much time as we do together. While that’s probably true, I’d also argue that finances are the main reason why couples fight: and with a lot less to worry about in the financial department, you do have a lot easier of a time living with your spouse or significant other.
If I had to do it all over again, I would, and I wouldn’t worry so much about the fact that the space would be small. There are days when this studio flat feels like a hotel because it looks so much better than any place we’ve had to ourselves before (benefit of being able to afford renovations comfortably). There are days I can’t see anything besides my laptop because I have so much work to do (who needs space when you’re engulfed in your work?). There are a couple days here and there where I really wish I could just have a room to myself – even just a bedroom separate from the living room – but these days are few and far between, as you learn to communicate more when you need some space to yourself. Eventually, it becomes pretty obvious without even using words; “I need some time on my own” doesn’t need to be said aloud when your spouse goes off to the kitchen to pace, closing the door behind him. Typing away madly at a computer – certainly an indication I should probably not be disturbed.
You can have peace of mind, enough space to yourself, even within a studio flat, even when both parties work from home. You don’t need to constantly be up in each other’s business. You can create artificial space by having desks facing one direction, and beds or sofas facing another. You can disappear to recharge in the kitchen, go for a walk, or read a book outside if what you need is to get some space for your thoughts. It’s not as easy as having separate rooms, by any means, but it’s certainly possible to make do; and I’d argue a lot easier than dealing with the mental ramifications of stretching your wallet way past the length it really needs to go.
I’m so glad you made this decision…sounds like you thought about it long and hard and did what made the most sense for you both.
Here in the States, my wife and I downsized from a 4-bedroom 2500 square feet 3-bath home to a 3-bedroom 1840 square foot brand new 2-bath home. While having our home built, we managed in a 2-bedroom 900 square foot 1-bath trailer. Yes, it is a smaller footprint for us to manage, but our kids are grown (youngest is 29) and MUCH easier to maintain…I’m not getting any younger, and getting up on the roof is out of the question. Finding spaces for all five of our children, their spouses, and one significant other (two children are married) and one grand baby, was ‘slightly’ challenging but doable for our Christmas vacation time together.
You’ll manage as well. Local parks, cafes / hang-outs, or roof-tops(?) can all provide needed get-away space. We’re fortunate to have ten acres to tend as well as our home, and I spend a lot of time outdoors (weather permitting).
Will you have adequate space for food preps, or will you have to get a garage / storage space to supplement your living space? I know that the bottom of a closet, under-the bed, and behind-the-couch table, as well as creative adaptation of bathroom space, etc., can allow additional ‘preps’ storage, but water storage in any quantity could be problematic in a ‘long-term’ emergency scenario.
Judging by your spectacular view, I’m guessing you’re on a higher floor, so the floor-loading for canned goods and/or water could also be something to take into consideration.
Wishing you the best. Remember to take operational security into consideration as you get to know your new neighbors.