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Crash In The Attic

Avoiding Renting

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I'm about to embark on the next (and hopefully final) step of my strategy to avoid either renting or buying. I finished university in 2001 and became a teacher in an independent school. Even at that stage, it was obvious to me that houses locally were ludicrously overblown - £100,000 for a fairly awful 1 bed flat, with a starting salary of £18,500. I rented a room from a more senior teacher - classic greedy rentier, had bought in about 1996, moved around a bit, and was renting out all rooms in his flat, including the main bedroom (he slept in the living room on a sofa bed so as to do this). Moved after 3 years to a London school which offered heavily subsidised accommodation (2 bed flat) for 5 years. Left after 4 years, in anticipation of this ending, and moved to an outer London school which also offered heavily subsidised accommodation, for a somewhat undefined period, but typically up to 8-10 years. Currently paying £550 pm for a 3 bed house in a lovely area, with a nice garden.

After 5 years there, and with a new Bursar who seems hell-bent on raising everyone's rent, I am off to a boarding school. I'm married, and we have a baby on the way in October. We're getting a massive 2 bed flat, with a huge study and storage room - it's way bigger than current 3 bed semi. Completely rent free, no water bills, and no council tax either. Lunch is provided (as at the other schools), and I think I might be able to get dinner there too if I want.

I'm very happy with this as a solution, although I'll be worked to death during term time - 6 days a week, lessons until 6pm, huge amounts of extracurricular stuff, clubs and societies until 10pm (!). I appreciate it's rather a niche way of doing it, and not for everyone, but I've always suspected I'd end up at a boarding school as the only way of avoiding the devil's alternatives of paying a fortune to some sort of greedy rentier each month, or buying a ludicrously overpriced house so that some retiree couple can spend the next 30 years swanning around on cruises. We've saved hard, and will continue to do so. Not been on many holidays, modest car, and only a couple of extravagances. Mainly in cash, some in PMs, and quite a lot in old coins, which give me a lot of pleasure as well as being a possible sort of investment.

If prices ever drop to a sensible level, I'll buy something, but not before. I was "strongly urged" by a previous headmaster, on leaving, that I really ought to buy asap; he had the whole process explained to him by an actuary once, and you couldn't really go wrong (this was in 2007!). Very glad I ignored him. I am slightly tempted to buy somewhere and rent it out to some top-notch tenants, for way below the market rate, just because I could, or to buy somewhere for the holidays, but resisting the urge.

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...buying a ludicrously overpriced house so that some retiree couple can spend the next 30 years swanning around on cruises.

If you are jealous of someone going to live on a cruise ship, then the obvious step is to get a job on a cruise ship, or I suppose just buy a boat of your own.

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In the middle of a right old mess you've found a satisfactory solution that works for you. Well done, I wish more could get themselves sorted.

Basically it's a whopping great perk of the job. Once upon a time such perks were widespread in certain occupations with low headline pay. Then the low pay became unacceptable for jobs like nursing, and the rest is largely history ...

... unless you can find a job with both decent pay and the perk. Congratulations!

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Good work. Done it for a while, and I'll probably be doing it again soon, possibly at your school... It's well worth it, and the accommodation saves upwards of £10K pa post-tax income. Some schools require you to be housemaster to get this perk - something I'd rather not have to do. Some require rent to be paid (about 50% of market rate, say).

Alternative is overseas teaching for a couple of years - decent, tax free income, plus accommodation. Then back into a decent boarding school. When you've got a few dozen extra Ks saved. Job's a good 'un.

Still deciding what's my best career path...

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