Monday 15 November 2021

 Buying a house is something that most of us dream of doing or at least have on our 'life goals' list from a young age. I didn't give it much thought until after university and even then, I knew I wanted to go travelling and live abroad for a while so saving for a house wasn't really going to be feasible. I am now 27 and have just signed for one of the '50/50 affordable houses' that won't be complete for me to move in for quite some time. So right now my predicament is whether to rent or save by living with my parents until it is ready! Everyone's situation is different, which is why renting may make more sense for you than buying or vice versa. Here are a couple of things to think about when deciding. 

Photo Credit

When to buy a home 

I think there are a couple of important factors to consider when purchasing a home - your financial situation, your long-term plans and your current living arrangements. The idea of buying a home is exciting because you can make it your own, even down to choosing your own engineered wood flooring and tile designs. 

Financial situation

Buying a house requires quite a few up-front costs and a deposit to secure your house. The average for a first time home buyer in the UK is around 15% although there are now mortgages that accept 5% deposits (BBC News). It is important to remember that the more you pay with your deposit, the lower your monthly instalments will be when it comes to paying your mortgage. 

You can use a website to calculate your payments to see realistically what you will be able to afford and how much you can save. So for example, if you wanted to purchase a house for £250,000 and deposited £50,000, you'd be looking at a monthly mortgage of around £876 for 25 years. Which brings me on to my next point!

Current living arrangements

I know we see lots of success stories on social media of buying a house on your own, but unless you're earning a really good salary paying a monthly mortgage of £900 won't leave much room for other fun things in life! If you're trying to buy on the open-market and earn a regular salary, my advice would be to save as much as you can by living with your parents until you can afford to put a good deposit down, or wait until you're in a stable relationship and can purchase something together. After all two salaries are better than one. (and paying half the mortgage!) You can also work out what mortgage you can afford to borrow depending on your combined income. 

Long-term plans 

Another point to consider is where you see yourself in the next 5 years or so, because if it's not where you currently are then maybe buying a house won't be the best option for you. Although if you can afford to buy and do plan on returning to the area then buying might be a good investment as you can rent out your home in the meantime to cover your mortgage payments. 

Another thing to remember is that your first home doesn't have to be an 'insta-worthy' 3 bedroom flat in central London with a pink door. It's better to buy something you can actually afford now and then upgrade down the line when your situation changes than try buying your 'home for life' at 21 and being up to your throat in payments and not be able to enjoy your 20s! Plus, renovating can be fun and IKEA hardly disappoints. 

When to rent 

Renting is usually better as a short-term solution, or if you're someone who doesn't stick to one place for very long. Here are some reasons why you might want to rent instead of buy.


Choosing to rent makes it easier to move house once your lease has finished, and in majority of the times you won't need to worry about furnishing the place or replacing furniture (unless you want to) as the landlord will deal with that. It's also a good option if you work remotely or are somewhat of a digital nomad who doesn't stay in one city for too long. 

Less Risk 

As long as you don't breach your contract, you can leave most of the issues for your landlord. So you won't have to stress about changes in the property market or dealing with a leak in the kitchen!

Cheaper (in short term)

Renting an apartment can be a pretty quick and easy process, especially if you choose to do a house share through a website like SpareRoom which only asks for the bond, a reference and one month's deposit (in most cases). If you're new to a city and plan on sharing with friends this could be a good option as you could find yourself paying £400 rent a month. Which is great if you're just going to be in London for a year etc. 

One good thing to come out of the Covid pandemic is that flexible/hybrid working has become a lot more common. So the need to live near the city centre isn't as necessary, meaning you can rent something a lot nicer and cheaper by being on the outskirts. A study by Metro listed the cheapest places to rent in London which included Manor Park (E12) and Forest Gate (E7). 

So, to rent or to buy?

In a nutshell, if you're settled in one place and have a stable job, then my advice is to save as much as you can in the next few years and buy your own property. In the end you'll have something that is yours and it's always good to have some collateral. If you're someone who moves around a lot for work or buying a house has never been what you want to do, then renting it is!


* This is a collaborative post but all words are my own. All collaborations are kept relevant to Tea With Gi and my audience *


Wednesday 3 November 2021

I didn't know much about Naples (or Napoli) before our trip, except for the fact that it's where pizza was 'invented' and that it was a gateway to other places of interest like the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. Because of Covid we had actually changed destinations a number of times before settling on Italy because it was one of the cheapest places we could change our Ryanair flights to! If you're looking at spending a couple of days in the Campania region of Italy, here are some things I recommend doing. 

1. Eat pizza, every day. 

We set ourselves the challenge of eating pizza and pasta every day whilst in Italy, because why wouldn't you? Even with that we didn't have time to try all the iconic pizza places in Naples. I even accidentally ordered one without cheese (marinara) and it was still delicious! For some quirky toppings head to Pizzeria Imperatore 1906. For a Michelin star experience without the price tag, eat at Sorbillo Restaurant, but expect to queue! Finally if you'd like to follow in the footsteps of Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, head to L'antica Pizzeria da Michele. Another typical thing to try in Naples is 'fried pizza', which I wasn't the biggest fan of but there are people out there who are, so why not try it for yourself! 

2. Visit the archaeological museum 

One of the main reasons people visit Naples is to explore the nearby ruined city of Pompeii, but if you want to get the full historic experience and see relics and excavations from Pompeii then this should be on your itinerary. The museum is currently open and entry is permitted to EU citizens who have a valid 'green pass' or others who can present a vaccine certificate. 

3. Stroll through Complesso Monumentale di Santa Chiara

Santa Chiara is a religious complex that consists of a church, a monastery, tombs and an archeological museum. You won't need to spend more than an hour here, but the beautifully painted pillars are worth the walk so you can get a good photo for your Instagram! 

4. Catch a ferry to the island of Capri

If you're from Gibraltar, then Capri probably won't be that breathtaking to you as it has a lot of (limestone) similarities with Gib. Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy were all big fans of the island and regularly spent summers here. For us regular folk, you wouldn't want to spend more that a day as a peach iced tea will set you back 6 euros. Whilst you're there, I do recommend taking the Funicular to the top of the island for the best view, or walk if you want to brave the heat! We had lunch with the best view at La Palette followed by gelato at Buonocore If you fancy visiting one of the cheaper islands, Ischia is a 50 minute ferry ride away from Naples.

Day Trip to Capri from Naples (£98)

5. Try some local sweet treats like Baba and Sfogliatelle 

I have an Italian friend who spent a few years living in Naples so I asked her for the best place to try Sfogliatelle and she recommended Antico Forno delle Sfogliatelle Calde Fratelli Attanasio. To explain more about what it is, it's a shell-shaped pastry that has lots of thin layers so when you bite into it you'll deffo hear the crunch! The standard one comes filled with custard but you'll find many varieties. Baba, is a little sponge cake soaked in a rum like citrus syrup. 

6. Hike Mount Vesuvius 

When we booked a tour to Mount Vesuvius we didn't actually think we'd be going up Mount Vesuvius. I think we just assumed we were going to get close enough to see the volcano via bus. Firstly, you can actually see Vesuvius from pretty much anywhere in Naples, and we managed to get very up close and personal meaning that we could actually go look inside the crater. The bus does leave you fairly close to the top so you only have to hike up 1.5km (40 minutes). Just make sure you wear appropriate footwear or you'll find yourself frantically wondering round the streets of Naples at 6pm trying to find trainers (like us).  

7. Visit the remains and learn about the history of Pompeii

Personally I don't think it's worth visiting Pompeii without a guide, or else you're just going to be marvelling at a bunch of rocks with no meaning behind it. If you are planning on visiting Pompeii I suggest you don't go in July or August, as you'll be waiting in long queues and standing in the heat. Luckily, since we went end of August and tourism was still relatively low, we didn't have to wait anywhere so we were in and out of the place in around 2 and a half hours. The most interesting thing we saw was a 'brothel' that had paintings you could see of the different types of 'services' they offered, which is how archeologists figured out what the room was for! 

You can actually visit Pompeii and Vesuvius in one tour and I've linked the one that we went on below. 

Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii Ruins Tour (£77)

8. Explore the Amalfi Coast and the picturesque town of Positano. 

The town of Positano is a short 1h30 min drive from Naples, and it's definitely worth the trip. You will definitely have seen photos of the colourful Italian style houses on social media and it's just as quaint in person! Again if you're from Gibraltar, it might look a bit like Caleta to you but on a bigger scale. Once you get to Amalfi, I recommend taking a boat trip around the island. There'll be plenty of companies offering private and group services once you get there.

Positano and Amalfi Coast Day Trip (£64)

9. Take a free walking tour of Naples

If you've been reading my blog for a while then you were probably wondering why I hadn't mentioned this already, because I do love a good free walking tour. Naples can be a bit of an intimidating city at first, and you'll find a lot of people don't speak English. That doesn't mean it doesn't have its charm and it's always great to find out more about the history of a city and its people. Even though these tours are advertised as 'free' you are expected to tip something at the end!

10. Snap a photo at Toledo Metro Station

The metro system is super easy to use in Naples, although from what we experienced the trains were never on time. Nevertheless, if you want to save money on taxis and snap some cool shots of possibly the most artsy station in Europe, head to the Toledo stop. 

Toledo Station (Photo Credit)

Naples has a bit of a history for being a bit 'rougher' than its neighbour Italian cities but it's definitely got better over the years. It might not have as many landmarks as Rome or be as romantic as Venice, but it still had its charm and is known for having the best Italian food in the country!If you'd like any more tips for Naples you can reach me on my socials below.

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