DESPITE long hours in their full-time NHS day jobs, Amanda and Anson Joseph took on extra work to help save up a deposit for their first home.
The couple, both aged 41, cut out as many expenses as possible including haircuts, childcare costs and reduced grocery bills to get on the property ladder.
Anson and Amanda Joseph, both 41, and their daughter Azaria and son Amaré moved into their new home last year
They also knew they couldn’t afford to buy in London – and wanted a better quality of life for their children Amaré, 14, and Azaria, 12.
They left London, swapping the rented two-bedroom house under the Heathrow flight path for a four-bed property in Corby, Northamptonshire.
This reduced their monthly rent from £1,200 to £950, saving them £250 a month.
After three years of hard saving, they moved into their new-build property in the same area in June 2020.
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They put down a £16,000 deposit for the £299,000 home, and used the Help to Buy equity loan scheme to make their mortgage repayments more affordable.
They now pay just under £1,000 towards their mortgage each month.
We caught up with Amanda for The Sun’s My First Home series.
Tell me about your home
It’s a modern four-bedroom family home by Baratt in a really nice area.
It has a lovely family kitchen – my friends say it’s like a football field.
The property has an ensuite, a WC downstairs as well as a family bathroom.
The property comes with a huge garden for the whole family to enjoy
It’s not open plan – everything is sort of separate with the lounge opening up to the garden.
If the weather’s nice we can turn the television on and sit in the garden and watch it.
The children have their own rooms and there’s ample space if our family comes for a visit.
How much did you pay for it?
We paid £299,000 for the property. We reserved it in January 2020 and the prices then increased a few weeks later, but we got to keep our price.
Our deposit was £16,000 and we used the Help to Buy equity loan scheme too, so our mortgage repayments are now just below £1,000 a month.
We borrowed 20% of the property value through Help to Buy.
The couple reserved their property in January 2020 just before the coronavirus crisis hit the UK
We’ve got another four years before we start initiating that part of the payment, which is still affordable.
Had we not had that help, we probably wouldn’t have been able to purchase with a good interest rate and the deposit we had.
When you look at other alternatives, such as shared ownership, this is a better alternative because you do own the property outright.
How did you save for the deposit?
We worked overtime, on top of our usual NHS roles, and got extra jobs.
We saved every penny from those for between two and a half and three years.
I worked full-time as a specialist nurse for the NHS and also did 20 hours a week for NHS 111 as a nurse adviser.
My husband is a NHS support worker. He also got a cleaning job.
Our regular NHS salaries were paying for all the other bills, but the money from the overtime hours and the extra job was enough to go straight into the savings account.
What help is out there for first-time buyers?
GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.
Help to Buy Isa – It’s a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there’s a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move. These accounts have now closed to new applicants but those who already hold one have until November 2029 to use it.
Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20% of the home’s value – or 40% in London – after you’ve put down a 5% deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.
Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25% on top.
Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25% to 75% of the property but you’re restricted to specific ones.
Mortgage guarantee scheme – The scheme opens to new 95% mortgages from April 19 2021. Applicants can buy their first home with a 5% deposit, it’s eligible for homes up to £600,000.
I was getting about £1,200 a month for the NHS job, while my husband earned £600 extra.
We didn’t have an extravagant lifestyle, but our kids had an au pair, which we stopped with.
She lived with us and we paid her £600 a month, and instead we relied on friends and family for babysitting.
In London, we paid £1,200 a month for a two-bedroom semi-detached house.
But rather than stay there until we moved into our own property, we decided to move early and rent in Corby. We got a four-bedroom rental for £950, saving us £250 a month.
The four-bedroom house comes with a big kitchen
It also has plenty of space for visitors
When you leave London, it changes your career. I was a specialist nurse, but I couldn’t keep this job although we both managed to get the same salaries that we had in London.
We also cut down on every single possible expenditure that we could think of.
I didn’t even go to the hairdresser and we reduced our weekly grocery shop.
We weren’t going hungry, but we swapped brands such as Kellogg’s for supermarkets’ own brands and looked for coupons.
The family can enjoy tasty meals together around the dining table
Friends and family also cooked for us on a Sunday if I was working. And they brought dinner for us if my husband was working.
We typically saved around £2,000 a month but it varied.
It took about three years to save up. We don’t have an inheritance and families that would put a whole heap of money for a deposit.
We are first generation immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago, so it takes a long time to save up when you don’t have those sort of benefits.
Our auntie Maria did give us a small sum though, but I can’t remember how much it was.
How did you decide on the area?
We used to live in London – that’s where our social network and our closest friends are.
But because of my health and everything, we had to find somewhere with good access to healthcare where there was also a good quality of life.
I’ve got sickle cell disease and lung problems, so I’ve been shielding during the pandemic.
The couple left London for Corby with their children to get a better quality of life
In London, we lived under the Heathrow flight path, there was lots of traffic and crime, it was getting too much.
Then I was on jury duty in 2019 and was bored stiff as I was waiting to be called and everything, so I started googling some places.
Corby kept interesting me every time I searched on Zoopla, or wherever.
Then one day I called my husband when he was at work and said “we’re going to Northampton, and we’re going to look at houses”.
We couldn’t have lived in London, we couldn’t afford it. At the end of the day, we had to find a good balance and Corby is.
How did you afford to furnish it?
We rented a furnished house in London, so we didn’t have anything when we moved to Corby.
So when we initially moved there to rent, we bought furniture from the shops in Corby.
We were obviously still on a budget as we were saving for the house, but the reduction in rent meant we could put some of that towards furniture.
When we moved into our own property, we didn’t have to buy much. It was nice.
Did you have any problems buying the property?
We initially put down an offer for another property, but this fell through because the lender pulled out.
In the end we’re thankful, because the interest rates with that lender were really high.
We then ended up renting in Corby and wanted to buy the property, but the landlord didn’t want to sell.
The family celebrated their first Christmas in the property last year
Anson and Amanda had to find new jobs after leaving London – but don’t regret the decision
It all came into place and we ended up buying a new-build in the end.
We were meant to close in April, but due to the pandemic it was delayed until June and we got the keys on June 26.
The developers kept us updated on when they could go back to the site.
Are you planning to stay there for a long time?
Yes, it’s our forever home. We’re not going to move again.
We have to keep our kids stable for their GCSEs and A-levels.
When they get older, they can decide what they want to do and where they want to go but this is their family home.
What is your advice to other first time buyers?
My advice would be to save, read a lot on the processes and get sound advice.
There can be some really unscrupulous people around that will prey on you.
Go to the proper channels when getting a mortgage.
Another couple bought a £480,000 two-bed flat in London despite facing redundancy by ditching holidays and working extra shifts at Nando’s.
While a third switched energy tariff and batch cooked to help buy their three-bed home.
Plus, other first-time buyers bought a £23,000 house boat as their first home – but they’re saving up for a house.