"I've stopped worrying about finding Mr Right, and bought a house with my best friend instead"

I figured that there is no point putting my life and dreams on hold in the hope that I'll meet Mr Right. Pretty sure single men buying houses don't get asked 'what if you meet someone?' like we did, it's just accepted that they're making strides to build a life for themselves.

Phillippa Koushk-Jalali

Tell me about yourself

I'm a 31-year-old single woman, living in the Midlands. I have a miniature dachshund pup and I work full-time at a local university I was originally a translator (having done a BA in French and German, followed by an MA in translation). I changed careers in September 2021 after falling out of love with translation and a period struggling to get freelance translation work. After doing a university admin job that wasn't a good fit for a few months, I've been in my current job for just over a year. It involves proofreading and editing lesson content - so adjacent to my background. I work in a lovely team and really enjoy what I do. It's also what has enabled me to be in a position to buy because it's full-time employment rather than freelance work (plus I'm earning more than when I was freelancing).

What was your living situation before buying your house?

I was living with my mum before. I'm definitely in the boomerang generation. I moved back home after uni to do my master's degree. I then moved away for a year for a translation job. That job was very toxic and my dad was terminally ill, so I resigned and moved back home. Sadly, he died just a couple of weeks after I moved home but I'm so glad I got out of that job and was able to have that time with him. I've been at home ever since with the view to move out when I was in a position to buy. I live in a small city and it didn't make financial sense to move and rent somewhere, when I could save up by living with my mum where I would only be paying board plus whatever other expenses I had.

How did the idea of buying with your friend come about?

The idea of moving in with my friend was not a new idea but I did really want to move out on my own if I could (her likewise). However, it was when we started to seriously look at buying in the summer when we realised how little we could borrow on our own and how we would struggle to even get a flat in an okay-ish area for our maximum budget. It was me who suggested pooling our resources so we could buy a house between us (it's always me who comes up with the mad ideas ๐Ÿ˜‚). My friend had a think about it and, fortunately for me, agreed!

What was the process of buying together/ looking for a home like?

We went to NatWest and got a mortgage in principle (we both bank with NW and have done since we were students). We thought it was the most obvious first step as they had the most accurate knowledge of our financial situations. Once we got the mortgage in principle, we started looking online at houses within our budget. We decided to set a lower budget than the maximum amount we were given in our mortgage in principle as we didn't want to max ourselves out. It's a scary amount of debt!

We booked a few viewings for the following weekends. One sold and we decided the other wasn't the right location and cancelled the viewing. Our third one turned out not to be a good fit but the estate agent told us of another house that was a bit cheaper but with more space and she had a viewing for it an hour later if we wanted to swing by. We found it online and decided to view it. It had really good bones but dated decor. We could see ourselves there though. We ended up chatting to the vendor of another house for sale round the corner that was a similar layout to the one we had just seen. The sale was going through on that one but she told us how much it went for and what it was like living in that area. My friend lived in the same area as a young child so we knew we were in a nice area.

We went home and decided to put an offer in. The vendor countered and we ended up agreeing to buy for ยฃ5000 under the asking price. We then had to find a solicitor (the estate agent gave us a list of ones they worked with). We then went back to NatWest to secure a mortgage offer. Two zoom calls and few weeks later, we got our offer. We were very lucky because about a week later everything went tits up with mortgage offers. I try not to think about the position we'd be in if we'd been caught up in that! It was then a case of letting the solicitors do their thing and progressing the sale.

Were there any issues or delays during the buying process?

There were a couple of delays. My friend wanted a specific survey done because of the age of the house and then there were some concerns about whether next-door's extension was encroaching. All of that was resolved though and we completed on 16th December ๐Ÿ˜Š

We both used Lifetime ISAs for our deposits. Despite our solicitor saying they may not be able to get those funds released in time to complete before Christmas, everything went through on time.

How's it going so far?

I moved in with my pup on Christmas Eve. My friend hasn't moved in yet because she wants to decorate her room first. She has stayed over a few times and we've been working together to get set up. It's been an adjustment moving in on my own and it will be and adjustment when she does move in properly. However, we're prepared for that and make a good team. We also have a third bedroom that will be a flexible office/ second living room/ spare room space so we can give each other space when we need it! We still have a huge amount of work to do (every room needs redecorating) but we're just going to tackle one room at a time as and when we have the time and money.

Could you tell me a bit more about the house?

Our house is a 1930s terrace. Originally two bedrooms but a loft conversion was added at some point so it now has three. We definitely wanted something freehold after reading all the leasehold horror stories in the news. It needs a lot of cosmetic TLC. The first plan (aside from my friend decorating her room) is to get a new bathroom. It's in a really bad state so I try to spend as little time in there as possible! Not really sure what we want to do style-wise yet but light and bright because it's small and we have pretty low ceilings. We do have a chimney though and my dream is to replace the gas fire with a wood burner if we can. Converting the front garden into a drive is also something we want to do ASAP. We both have cars and grew up with drives so having to parallel park has been a rude awakening! ๐Ÿ˜‚ We also need to tackle the garden as that also needs TLC. Neither of us have DIY or gardening skills so I'm excited to learn as we go!

Does this step mark a kind of acceptance with the idea of not doing the traditional โ€˜settling downโ€™ thing? Or are you still open to that?

Neither of us have been in a relationship for over a decade and we both think it's unlikely we will end up in one in the next decade (neither of us are actively looking!). I had a great aunt who never married or had children, plus a friend about to turn 60 in the same situation. I figured that there is no point putting my life and dreams on hold in the hope that I'll meet Mr Right. Pretty sure single men buying houses don't get asked 'what if you meet someone?' like we did, it's just accepted that they're making strides to build a life for themselves. Frankly, I am enough. I am a whole, valid human with a lot to offer the world just as I am without being a mother or wife.

If we do meet anyone, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I am open to parenting but would probably look at fostering or maybe adoption if I'm still single at that point. As I've got older, I've felt less sure that marriage and children is something I definitely want. It's not on the horizon right now so it's not something I need to factor into my financial plans. If I meet someone and can share my life with them, that's lovely. However, I'm not less than if I don't have that. My friend read something about there being a rise in single women and they're much happier for it! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Have you had any judgement from people about this life choice?

Mostly, people reacted positively and been very supportive of us buying together. I have had a few questions of 'what if you meet someone?' from my mum's friends (although not from her, she has been really supportive of both of us). The only negative reaction we've had was from my friend's parents (they have since come round and are being supportive). I understand that they were mainly concerned about my friend and that she was acting in her best interest. However, the way they expressed that was very hurtful to both of us. Fortunately, they have accepted it and are being positive about it now. There are of course concerns about what happens if we fall out, have financial issues or want to move on but that's the same for any couple too. It is a scary financial commitment for anyone.