How realistic is female financial independence?

I want a house, not a husband.

financial, career, moneyIt was only last weekend that I was politely interrogated by my Grandma about when she can expect to whip out her wedding hat. Now considering I’m a 26-year-old single woman in the midst of a pandemic… that hat’s going nowhere anytime soon. Sorry Grandma.

And while I know she just wants to be around to witness at least one of her grandchildren on their special day, that one day for her is a life-time choice for me and a decision that I don’t take lightly.

But let’s say I did follow my Grandma’s ideal. Meet somebody in the next couple of years, get a house and marry them shortly after… would I be in a position to contribute equally or even contribute at all to a mortgage? What If it doesn’t work out, will my financial situation be secure enough? Or will this be a consideration when staying in a relationship that might not be right for me?

Don’t get me wrong I would love to meet somebody and share my life with them, I just don’t want my livelihood to be dependent on meeting that person.

A fear of financial dependence

Growing up, the adults in my life haven’t displayed a compelling example of marriage. The connotations I associated with marriage and money were sadly not positive, and this has been a huge influence on the way I live my life and where my fear of financial dependence stems from.

I’ve seen what financially depending on another person can do to an individual, the control your partner can have over your life (whether intentional or not) and an inability to leave an undesirable or unhappy situation. This has been the case for many of the female role models surrounding me. I learned pretty early on that money buys you independence.

After graduating at age 23, I was lucky enough to have found that independence. I secured a job that allows me to pay rent in a house share, for bills, food and have some money left to enjoy myself on life’s sunny days and equally put some aside for the inevitable rainy days. This is all great stuff but looking forward to building my future I would love to be able to start investing my money and get on the property ladder someday. A little space in the world that is just mine.

Navigating the financial hurdles

However, when I started to look into it, I realised there are some pretty big obstacles I have to consider as a single income homeowner. The average salary in 2019 for 22-29-year olds was reported to be around £29,009 and “The average price of a home bought by a first-time buyer in 2019 was over £231,500. In order to afford this, the average deposit was £46,200, or 20% of the house price, with an average mortgage of £185,268.”

If I was to take the minimum of a more achievable deposit of 5% (£11,575) which on the average salary could be possible with some solid budgeting and saving over the course of a few years, I would need to get a £219,925 mortgage. If I applied for the maximum mortgage loans of x5 my average salary (£145,045) there would still be a sum of £74,880 left to whip up and in between saving for my deposit and living my life where is that money going to come from? Even if I spent a couple more years saving for a 10% deposit, I’d still be no closer to magicking up that extra cash to close the gap.

Financial statistics:

  • The average earnings of employees aged between 22 are 29 are £477.9 a week for men and £440.8 a week for women.
  • The average salary in the UK for men and women combined was £29,009
  • £231,500 was the average price of a home bought in the UK by a first-time buyer in 2019. In order to afford this, the average deposit was £46,200, or 20% of the house price, with an average mortgage of £185,268.

These statistics make me question what my chances of becoming a single homeowner really are? Do I just spend my money on things I enjoy, seeing more of the world and living for the moment or do I surrender to society and live a regimented lackless life of working to save? I struggle to see where the in-between lands me.

It seems that having a partner, or a dual income is a pivotal stepping stone in the process of securing a mortgage. And with the uncertain economic future from the impacts of Covid, it all feels that little bit further out of reach for potential first-time buyers like me. Hopefully there will be future schemes that consider these factors and remove some of these obstacles.

As of right now, I’m just grateful for everything I do have, and I’ll hold the hopes of my little space in the world not too far from reality.