Real Estate

How to save for a deposit for your first home


Years of saving, packed lunches, cycling to work, a “selective” attitude to their social lives, and a big dollop of compromise helped propel Vicki Shannon and her husband Pete on to the property ladder. And just at the right time. 

The couple bought a three-bedroom garden flat in Thornton Heath in Croydon —  and later this year Vicki, 29, will give birth to twins, creating an instant family.

Vicki, a health visitor, and Pete, 31, an architect, had been living in Battersea, paying £1,350 a month for a “tiny” one-bedroom flat. 

The prospect of a rent rise persuaded them it was time to buy. As they had been saving since they married in 2013, they had a deposit ready to go.

“We aimed to save £10,000 a year which was do-able,” says Vicki. “We saved in lots of little ways. It sounds really boring but we planned our meals and did a big online shop every week, I took on extra shifts and we cycled to work.”

They were also flexible about where they were prepared to live. 


(Juliet Murphy)

Pete’s only prerequisite was that he wanted to be able to cycle to work in the City in no more than an hour. 

Eventually they settled on Thornton Heath and in 2016 paid £350,000 for their home in a newly renovated period terrace, putting down a 10 per cent deposit.

“I had never even heard of Thornton Heath,” admits Vicki. But she and Pete fell in love with the apartment and were willing to overlook the fact that the area lacked the café culture and restaurants to which most millennials aspire.

Becoming homeowners has made Vicki and Pete something of a rare breed. According to free credit score provider only 14 per cent of 20- to 35-year-olds in the UK own their own home, and more than one in 10 have given up on the idea altogether. 

But owning has been cheaper than renting for Vicki and Pete. Their mortgage comes in at £1,170 a month, meaning they have been able to invest in upgrading the “developer finish” on the flat, doing such work as replacing a faux-granite worktop and orangey timber floors.

“Being able to buy a property we could live in for five or 10 years is so lucky,” says Vicki. “Otherwise we could still be in an expensive one-bedroom flat in Battersea with twins.” 


From a cramped rented terrace in Uxbridge, west London, to fully fledged homeowners, Nicola Armstrong and Chris Style ascended the property ladder with a leg up from the Bank of Mum and Dad — and a willingness to look beyond the capital in order to secure their dream home.


Fully fledged homeowners: Nicola Armstrong and Chris Style in their new kitchen (S Saunders / Digital Nation Photography)

Their first step was to move in with Nicola’s parents in Horsham, West Sussex, so they could save up.

Then, when they found a property in the county, near the village of Southwater, Nicola’s father stepped in with a 10 per cent deposit to allow them to buy the £335,000 two-bedroom semi-detached house at Berkeley Homes’ Broadacres development.

Nicola, an IT business analyst based in Maidenhead, and Chris, a cable jointer whose work takes him all round London and the South East, moved into their first home with their chocolate labrador, Ozzy, in February.

“We were both delighted and were unbelievably grateful for Dad’s help,” says Nicola. 

“In addition, the savings we had already made, due to living rent-free for nine months at my parents’ home, helped us furnish the house.”

They now pay £1,200 a month in mortgage, compared to £800 rent in London.

Nicola was already keen on Sussex, having grown up there, and wanted to be close to her parents and sister.

Southwater ticked all their boxes with its good range of shops and restaurants and plenty of open countryside nearby for walks with Ozzy.

Broadacres is a 10-minute drive from Horsham station, where trains to either London Bridge or Victoria take less than an hour. 

An annual season ticket costs from £3,384. Prices at Broadacres start at £400,000 for a three-bedroom house


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