What I Own: Bethan who pays £500 monthly for the mortgage on her flat

Welcome back to What I Own.

For anyone new here, this is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series where we chat to homeowners about their buying experiences.

This week we are speaking to Bethan who lives in Edinburgh. She moved into a new flat last year, after selling her first property.

Bethan delves into deposits, mortgages, decor and living in Scotland – this is what she has to say… 

Tell us about yourself…

I’m a 30-year-old primary school teacher in Edinburgh. I grew up in England but have lived in different parts of Scotland over the last eight years.

Where is your property? 

I live in Leith, Edinburgh, which is famous for many things – probably Trainspotting being one of the most well known, as well as more recently the filming of The Princess Switch 2. I absolutely adore this area – having fallen in love with it when I returned to Edinburgh about five years ago. I rented a property for over a year close by and then bought my first property in a neighbouring area. When I sold that, I was excited to be able to afford to live here. At the moment the area has a lot of roads that are disrupted due to tram works and developments, but it’s still amazing.

I live within a few minutes walk of the waterfront, plenty of bars, shops, restaurants and even Waverley train station is just a 35-minute walk away. It’s a really eclectic area with an interesting reputation and fascinating history.

When did you move in?

I moved in November last year.

How much does your property cost? 

I was fortunate to get my property for the ‘offers over’ price of £200,000. In this part of Edinburgh properties generally go for 5-10% higher than the asking price, so it was great.

How much was your deposit? 

I put down a deposit that was roughly 15%, which was only made possible due to the profit made on my first property sale and the value added over the couple of years there.

I had a two-year fixed mortgage and have always been able to ask my parents for a bit of support if needed – I wouldn’t have been able to get on the property ladder without their help the first time around.

What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills? 

It’s approximately £750 a month, everything included. The mortgage is just over £500 and then with factoring fees, council tax and all of the amenities it adds up.

How did you save up for your deposit?

I’ve always had a good work ethic – I’ve had jobs since I was 15 years old and was taught to appreciate money. I had multiple jobs during school and university. Even after I secured my first permanent post as a teacher, I still worked throughout my holidays as a sports camp manager.

Last year I was promoted within this role but, due to Covid, the season didn’t go ahead and I definitely felt the financial difference. Aside from working multiple jobs, saving money at the start of each month and the day before payday putting half of what’s in my account in my savings has definitely built up.

What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you?

I found this incredibly straight forward due to having an amazing advisor for my first mortgage. This time round it was more challenging with the restrictions of Covid, however it was still relatively straight forward.

Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family? 

I initially moved away from my family home at 18, to attend university. I have been renting the majority of the last 12 years, so saving has been challenging in some ways. This comes down to me studying a long distance from home and securing my first graduate job in Edinburgh. I purchased my first flat at the age of 27, which was a traditional tenement building that was wonky, quirky and about 140 years old. It had so many traditional features and was quite spacious, and I worked hard to develop it to add value.

What made you want to buy rather than renting? 

My current mortgage is just over £500 for a two-bedroom, spacious flat in an ‘up and coming area’ – minutes away from one of the most picturesque areas in Edinburgh. When I rented a property less than half a mile away from here, it was £620 a month (excluding bills) for a property with one bedroom, single glazing and no heating – that’s tough in a Scottish winter.

I also love developing places and putting my own stamp on a property.

How did you find this property?

I found it on ESPC.

I will be honest – initially I was due to move into a different property which I had secured prior to the coronavirus pandemic. My previous flat was due on the market the week lockdown was announced. When moving home became possible again, there were complications with the cladding and so that purchase fell through.

I knew I wanted to live in the area that I’m in and this flat is incredibly light and spacious. I love the way it is an old factory, in an old industrial part of town with docks that has been repurposed as flats. It’s also great that it has an allocated parking space. When the tram works are completed it will be about five minutes walk away from a tram stop which will also add value.

How have you made the property feel like home?

Over my years of rental and prior ownership, I have amassed a range of different furniture, photos, soft furnishings and so on – and instantly adding those made me feel at home. When I moved in, the entire flat had magnolia walls and the same wooden laminate flooring in every room – I’m still not finished decorating it, but I’ve definitely already put my stamp on it.

What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style? 

I like to embrace the style of building as inspiration but also put my own twist on it. As this flat used to be a factory, I have kept it relatively minimal and added industrial type lighting. I also have an abundance of furniture that has been given to me or I have inherited, which I upcycle. I currently have shelves in the hallway and a table nest in my living room that I’ve been given for free that I have made plans to upcycle.

I love Facebook Marketplace or simply asking family and friends for things, then making them your own. The master bedroom is inspired by trying to create a relaxing area and bringing the outside inside to create a calming vibe. My previous one was decorated in tartan, stag heads and dark wood stain panelling.

What’s your favourite room and why? 

Probably the living/dining/kitchen area. I really like the light provided by the French doors and the colour combination I have picked for it. The living area is navy and pink with grey features, and I’m saving up for a new kitchen which will be grey with pink and navy features. I’ve already added pink and blue soft features and small appliances to help tie these in.

I also love the fact that there are double doors you can shut, so if I cook something like a curry, I can close them and it provides separation for the areas. It’s a large space and the way it is open and airy means it’s really good for hosting and socialising.

Do you feel like you have enough space? 

I have more than enough space – the property is quite large for one person.

Do you have plans to change the property? 

I am saving up for a new kitchen and a new bathroom. I have spent about £80 on sprucing the bathroom with paint and laying lino myself to tide me over, but cannot wait. I have already had the electrics entirely updated, with USB ports in each socket, new heating and fuse boards as well as the industrial light fixture in the living area.

Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with? 

This is the easiest to maintain property that I have lived in. Having said that, I can’t wait to get some translucent blinds so I can still have a lot of light but also some privacy – with it being on the ground floor that’s important.

What do you want people to know about buying a home?

I think it’s really important if you’re buying a home in Scotland, to be aware that the offers over price isn’t actually what the seller expects, so to make sure you’re looking at properties under your budget.

I also think it’s really important – if you want to add value to a property – to learn how to do basic tasks yourself using YouTube or friends or family – as labour is the most expensive part of outsourcing a task. I have learned how to do everything from laying flooring, plastering, stripping walls to hanging up curtains. Never be afraid to accept furniture or other houseware second-hand while you find your feet.

What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? 

I want to continue to add value to this place and the trams being completed should also add value. I envision it being a three to five-year home.

Shall we take a look around?














Do you want to feature in What I Own?

What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected] 

You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important. 

If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email [email protected]

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