‘I was given a London flat, mortgage-free - here’s how I feel’

Can you tell me a bit about you and your life?

I'm nearly 30 years old and run a business in the cultural sector. My parents worked very hard when I was growing up, so we had plenty of money - I went to private school and we frequently went on nice holidays. That being said, I wasn't half as spoiled as a lot of the other kids at my school, who had pretty much everything bought for them as soon as they said 'I want…'. I saved up and worked for purchases that were just for me. e.g. clothes, my first car, trips with friends etc. I got excellent grades at school and went to one of the top London universities.

How did you come to own the flat?

When I was 20 and in my second year of university, my parents bought me a flat in central London mortgage-free. I always knew we were well off but this definitely shifted my perspective on the family wealth and my life significantly.

How did it change your perspective?

I suddenly struggled to relate to many of the things that other people my age were facing, predominantly the London rental market and thinking about saving for a property deposit. Because I didn’t need to pay rent I decided to pursue what I wanted to do - set up my business. I enjoy the job, but for the past couple of years as things have been getting going I have made very little money from it (like 10K per year, not a liveable wage) and the rest of my income comes from renting out rooms in my flat.

Can you describe the feelings that were involved?

I struggle with low self-esteem around my finances because I know that the majority of my income isn't earned directly from my day job, and it’s only there as a byproduct of inherited wealth. I feel very grateful to my parents, but I can’t help but feel worthless and seriously question myself, my value as a person, and my own earning ability. This feeds into low self-esteem because I have an image of myself as a successful person and independent financial success is part of that. I can't talk to my friends about these feelings because not many of them are in the same financial position of owning a flat mortgage-free, and they are understandably jealous. I then feel shame for feeling how I do as I'm in an objectively good financial position, but then try to remember that salary and wealth are not markers of someone's value or worth as a person.

Dating is challenging because many of the guys I've been out with - of a similar age and who don't own their own place - get weird about the inherited wealth. It also imbalances the 'buying a place together' dream that many millennials have - but I'm in no rush to buy a property with anyone anyway. I've recently started to date an older man who already owns his own place, and we haven’t struggled with weirdness or jealousy - probably because he makes far more disposable income than me!

What does the future hold, any plans, worries or hopes?

My hope and plan is to make more earnings from my day-to-day work so that I can improve my self-esteem and progress my business. The narrative I have in my head when I'm in a bad place is that I'm nothing more than a 'spoilt little rich girl' (imagine it’s being said in a patronising voice!) and I need to prove that wrong for myself. For now, I need to rent out the rooms in my flat for my living expenses, but I hope one day this will become optional for me, rather than a need. I'd love to buy a house and also have enough 'fuck you' money to become an angel investor.

How do you feel about ‘inherited wealth’?

I think there’s a real taboo around talking about inherited wealth as it elicits strong responses in people. Some think that all inheritance should be banned as it gives people a leg up, and some people think it’s awful to be double taxed on something that has already been earned and this disincentivises the ambition to create wealth for the next generation.

Do you have any advice for those where you were?

To my younger self, or to anyone else who is young and inheriting something significant (a property, money, a business), I say to take the emotion out of the transaction. It's likely to be a practical estate-planning decision, rather than because your family thinks you can't look after or provide for yourself.

Have a conversation with the people you're inheriting from as to how you feel and the emotions surrounding the transaction. Understand that if you do inherit something life-changing, you will begin to struggle to relate to people who haven't had the same experience. You can of course still be friends, it just becomes a point of difference! For those of you lucky enough to inherit young, please learn from this perspective.