House prices too high this year? 7 alternatives to private renting

Caught between rising house prices and renting from a private landlord? There may be other ways to find a place to call home.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Typical street lined with terraced houses and parked cars

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With house prices continuing to rise, the prospect of owning a home is a distant dream for many. However, renting from a private landlord isn’t the only alternative to buying a house. In fact, thinking out of the box could help you save enough for a deposit on your own home.

Renting from a private landlord is expensive and insecure. In addition, there are restrictions on how you live your life. You don’t get to choose the décor, you probably won’t be allowed to keep pets, and there are regular inspections. It’s not surprising many people are anxious to escape private renting, despite high house prices.

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If you’ve had enough of the rent trap, some types of accommodation can provide a substitute, or a stepping stone, to owning your own home. 

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A home without paying high house prices

If house prices are well beyond your income, there are other long term options.

1. Rent a property on a country estate

Large landowners with stately homes often have properties available to rent on their estates. These are usually long term lets and therefore more secure and more like home. The properties might be on the grounds of the estate or in the local village. If you like country living, this is definitely an option to consider if a mortgage is out of reach due to high house prices.

The National Trust is one large landowner that rents out properties to tenants long term. However, bear in mind that the application process for these properties can be very competitive.

2. Lower house prices with shared ownership

You can purchase a property gradually through shared ownership. Starting with a share of just 10%, you pay rent on the rest. Then you gradually buy more shares when you can afford them. Many of the properties are new builds.

It’s still possible to sell your property if you want to move. The availability and terms and conditions are dependent on the area.

3. Live on a boat

Narrowboats are available to buy for a fraction of the price of a house or flat. You would have to be prepared for a different kind of lifestyle, but it’s a way to own your own home. An advantage of living on a narrowboat is that you can change your location whenever you feel like it. Council tax is very low, or non-existent if you keep moving every few weeks.

There are mooring fees to consider as an extra expense, which are particularly high in popular areas such as London. Boat prices are lower than house prices, but there is a lot to learn about boat life, including the cost of maintenance and insurance, before making a commitment. 

4. Rent from a housing association

Unfortunately, there are very long waiting lists for social housing. If you are in danger of being made homeless or otherwise vulnerable, you might be nearer the top of the queue. There’s no harm in putting your name down on the list, just in case.

It’s cheaper to rent from a housing association. If you are able to get this kind of property, there are different types of tenancy agreements, with some ensuring a tenancy for life.

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Temporary alternatives to high house prices and rent 

Do you want to focus on saving money for a future purchase? Here are some short-term solutions.

5. Live with family or friends

Very few people are enthusiastic about living with their parents in adulthood. However, as a temporary measure, it can give you time to save up for a deposit. Sharing with a sibling or friend as a lodger is another solution that might be less expensive. 

If you can’t bear the thought of sharing accommodation with your family, perhaps they might let you park a caravan on their property while you save.

6. Find accommodation with work

There are lots of careers that come with accommodation, which is sometimes free. These include working on a farm, in a boarding school in the UK or elsewhere, or as a nanny or live-in carer.

If you like the idea of a Downton lifestyle, there are still employment opportunities with wealthy families, for single people and couples, that come with accommodation. 

7. House sitting 

Looking after someone else’s home and pets while they are on holiday is a cheap way to enjoy a new space for a while. House sitting provides you with homes for free while you save money. You could combine this with staying with friends or family to fill in the gaps. 

House prices by area

House prices may not be unaffordable for you in every area of the UK. Keeping your geographical options open might mean a shorter period of time renting and saving up.

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