My (and probably your) £250K Rent and Mortgage life-Time Lock-In (I did a Spreadsheet!)

By RealSociology | Retire by 50 | 17 Nov 2020


When I first set off on my path to Early Retirement in 2014, I calculated that my housing costs were the single biggest barrier to my retiring early.

And based on figures I took from the UK expenditure survey at that time, I wasn't alone: Housing expenditure, be it rent or mortgage repayments were the single largest item of expenditure for around half of all households, making up a third of outgoings in average working households.

I've just done a rough calculation of how much I have ever spent on rent and mortgage interest repayments over the last 30 years of renting and house ownership:


Screenshot 20201103 at 19.53.10.png

If you want an easier to read version click here.

For the monthly rent I've added together rent plus service charge plus mortgage repayments, sometimes I was paying all three together, and I've adjusted for inflation, these are all at today's prices.

  • 1993-2006- house sharing in various forms, just rent.
  • 2007-2008 - solo renting - just rent
  • 2009 - I bought a brand new part-buy part-rent flat with a service charge, so I was paying rent, mortgage interest and service charge!
  • 2013 - I bought the flat outright, so rent disappeared! Oh, and the service charge started going mental, hence the increase in costs, and my desire to get out of there!
  • 2018 - I bought a regular house, so only interest payments on the mortgage!

Since late 2020 I'm now net positive in that I'm earning more from renting my house out than it's costing me to pay the interest on my mortgage and rent my cabin in Portugal, so win-win!!!

My Total costs of 30 years of housing

The total cost comes out at £153 480 after 30 years, with an average monthly payment of £456.

If only I'd have been gifted a house when I was 18!

I've met a few people in my life who have been gifted houses at a relatively young age - they all seem very relaxed, they all seem to have a large amount of disposable income, the former coming from the security of home ownership I guess, the later from, well, not having to pay someone else for the privilege of shelter!

If I'd have been gifted a house at 18 years of age, and I'd have saved all that money on rent etc. with compound gains at 3% per annum I'd now have almost £250 000 in the bank, oh and no outstanding mortgage debt like I still have now!

Those figures right there my friends demonstrate the key role housing costs play in the 'lock-in'

By having to pay a large chunk of your income on rent/ mortgage interest (NB I haven't even included actually paying off the mortgage capital above) that alone is enough to cost you £250K over 30 years.

And of course the average person then has to pay for food/ clothing/ work expenses/ bills/ entertainment out of what's left over, or if yer in the UK and in her early 30s saving hard for a deposit on house is another key expenditure!

No, there's not a lot left over on the average salary to save anything to build an investment portfolio.

IF, just IF, we all started off with a house, or free accommodation at 18, and that continued for 30 years, we'd be entering our late 40s with £250K in the bank - an amount that is more than enough to facilitate down-scaling at work, retraining, taking a long and probably much needed break, and probably have a lot left towards actual full retirement later.

instead, all of that money goes on paying someone else for property, and most people end up with a £100K on their mortgage left to pay off into their 50s and 60s, locked-in for another two decades!

Of course there are ways out - everything from living with your parents for ever to DIY off-grid tiny housing solutions, but they come with their downsides, anyway, more on that for another post.

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Blogging about Sociology and Extreme Early Retirement

Retire by 50
Retire by 50

In the summer of 2014, when I turned 41, I set myself the goal of retiring from paid-work by the age of 52. This blog charts my own strategy and progress, and explores different theories of financial independence and 'extreme early retirement'. It also provides the odd tip on how you might also retire early!

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