I always intended to be mortgage-free before I turned 40 and we made the deadline with months to spare. It took us 12 years.
I’m proud of our achievement, but we took an unconventional path.
It’s the first house we bought and will probably be the last. We bought it in a city with cheap housing and, although it’s on a quiet street close to the city centre it was relatively inexpensive, particularly compared to average UK house prices.
It’s small. A terraced house with two little bedrooms and a tiny bathroom upstairs, a compact lounge and kitchen downstairs, a cute garden backed by trees.
We don’t live there. We moved out five years ago and rented it to a neighbour’s daughter who moved in and started a family. She pays rent below market value. We prefer to have a happy, longstanding tenant than maximising our rental income.
We never saw our mortgage as a 25 year project (despite it saying so on the paperwork). For the eight years we lived in the house, despite modest incomes and high interest, we paid off whatever we could afford, usually in chunks. We both worked full time, Tom taking extra shifts at the hospital at weekends and nights whenever he could. We lived frugally, rarely eating out, buying new clothes, drinking alcohol or taking holidays abroad. I kept a budget book and tracked our outgoings. We tried to focus on the satisfaction of seeing the mortgage reduce.
I suppose, deep down, a part of me always wanted to pay off the mortgage, rent the house out, and find a way to go travelling again, like we had in our early 20s. But when our son turned two, and I was still nesting, we decided to sell the house, with the intention of upsizing, or at least moving out of the city centre to a ‘doer-upper’ in the suburbs.
It never sold. And looking back, I’m glad, because we have been able to pay down the mortgage quicker, and my temporary desire to give my son a ‘traditional’ upbringing soon subsided.
Since leaving that house, I have left my job, Tom has changed employer, we have moved cities and, importantly, we have kept our rental outgoings low to save and pay off the mortgage.
We currently pay rent on a house in Sheffield for little more than the income we get from our old house. We are saving again. That rental income could soon fund a new adventure. Watch this space..