Do 20-somethings enjoy the good life too much to save for a new home?

publication date: Nov 21, 2016
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Do 20-somethings enjoy the good life too much to save for a new home?

It seems the days of scrimping, squirrelling and sacrificing to save for a home are over. When I was saving up for my first property, I remember putting every spare penny into my house fund, foregoing luxuries such as nights out and holidays.

And, at the risk of sounding like a Monty Python sketch, we’d live on beans on toast all week if necessary so we could afford the mortgage… because, of course, mortgage rates were in double digits back then.

But before you get out your violins, a new survey has got me wondering if today’s youngsters have their priorities right after all.

The research from Sarah Beeny’s estate agent, Tepilo, shows that, these days, people aren’t always willing to give up their luxuries in their pursuit of home ownership – and set aside an average of £203 a month for leisure activities.

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This fuels a debate which I think is necessary and neglected; the decline in home ownership is consistently blamed on affordability but do cultural reasons have their part to play, too?

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These are some of the luxuries people said they’d be unwilling to give up, according to Tepilo’s survey:

  • Annual holiday (27%)

  • Meals out (23%)

  • New clothes (20%)

  • Nights out with friends (17%)

  • Weekends away (16%)

  • Hobbies (16%)

  • Gym membership (15%)

  • A nice car (15%)

  • Weekly drink down the pub (15%)

  • Trips to the hairdresser (13%)

  • Luxury groceries (13%)

  • A cleaner (11%)

Sarah Beeny says: “I think this survey shows that although Brits rate owning a nice home in a nice area as the most important things to them, they’re not willing to completely overstretch themselves and sacrifice all the things that make life fun! And that’s a really good ethos to have.

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You don’t have to live like a hermit, or give fun a miss, but a few cut-backs could see you make massive savings. For instance:

Instead of…


Holiday abroad

…a staycation in the beautiful British Isles, or offer to house sit for friends.

Regular meals out

…the odd takeaway, or less frequent meals out. £40 a week on a meal out adds up to over £2,000 a year – double it for couples.

New clothes

…charity shops, eBay or clothes swaps with friends

Night out with friends

…meeting up with friends at each other’s houses, hold ‘Come Dine With Me’ style evenings or film nights

Weekends away

…camping, youth hostelling, or visiting friends instead


This depends a lot on your hobby, but do you really need the latest equipment? Could you use what you have, or switch to a similar but cheaper hobby for a year or so while you save?

Gym membership

…occasional visits on a pay-as-you-go basis, if you’re not a regular visitor. Or, if you’re a member of a private health club, you’re likely paying well over £1,000 a year, so would the local leisure centre be cheaper? For the biggest savings of all – and assuming you already have a bike – switch to cycling instead. Failing that, try running or walking.

A nice car

…keeping your car for another year or two, assuming it’s still running well, or switching to public transport, if feasible. Be wary of swapping your car for a cheaper model, as the initial outlay may negate any savings, so do your calculations carefully.

Weekly drink down the pub

…inviting friends over for a drink, then visiting them the following week. Even £20 a week in the pub equates to £1,040 a year.

Trips to the hairdresser

…a cheaper salon or a mobile hairdresser. If you’re a man who favours the “number two all over”, then invest in your own hair-cutting kit; it will pay for itself after four or five cuts.

Luxury groceries

…shopping to a menu, which cuts down on waste as you only buy what you need, or internet shopping which will prevent you being distracted by items not on your list.

A cleaner

…doing your own cleaning, or cutting down to less frequent visits.

Most people need to save £7-£8k for a deposit to buy their first home, which for a couple starting from scratch means saving £167 per month each over two years. . But don’t forget the Help to Buy ISA, through which the government will top up your savings by 25%, up to a maximum of £3,000 per person. If you save this way, this brings your savings requirements down to £125 per month each.

How much does it really cost to buy a home? Calculate the costs here.

Andy Kirkwood, our 20-something social media analyst, is currently saving for his first home. He says: “I understand that sacrifices are necessary so, for me, expensive holidays and luxury groceries can wait, but hobbies and socialising with friends can't. I don't mind doing my own cleaning so no problem there and my haircuts costs less than a tenner. Something the survey didn't mention which does add up financially these days are subscriptions to online streaming services like Spotify and Netflix… could these be sacrificed to save for a house?”

We’d love to hear what you think of the survey. What sacrifices did you make – or are you willing to make – to save for a property? What would you be prepared to give up, and what luxuries are non-negotiable? Get in touch with us using our contact us form.

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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