London first-time buyer: ‘My mortgage and bills cost the same as renting in a house share’

Karen Judge enjoys a bird’s eye view from her eighth-floor balcony of the River Thames and south-east London. This view convinced Karen to purchase her first flat. She had previously lived in a rental apartment for 13 years. She was living in Camberwell in a shared apartment, paying?800 per month (including bills) last year. She said that she was at the point where she wanted to live independently. Renting on my own would be very expensive at?1,400 to?1,500 per month. I realized that I could buy if I used the Help to Buy program. “Karen, 32 years old, is a sonographer who splits her time between Guy’s Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital. She needed to find a place that would allow her to travel easily to both hospitals. After looking at the Help to Buy listings, Woolwich was chosen for its excellent transport links and large selection of properties for sale. “I didn’t really know the area but a friend from work lived there and she recommended it so I started to look around,” said Karen.At the start of the summer she went to view a one-bedroom flat at the Trinity Walk development ( and was instantly smitten. She said that outdoor space was a top priority when she was searching for a place. “I have a beautiful view. You can see the sun rising right before you. I also have a cup of coffee there to start my day. The river can be seen on my balcony, and the trees and hills to my right. It’s like a little bit of nature to me. It’s nice to have trees because I’m from the country. “Karen moved into the?375,000 apartment in September. She only had to pay a five percent deposit when she used Help to Buy. She said that she was able to save a lot of money during the pandemic. “In a funny manner, I wouldn’t be able to do that without that. Her mortgage now costs her?600 per month. After all bills are added, she estimates that her mortgage will cost her?600 per month. Karen can reach Guy’s in 30 minutes and St Thomas’s in 50 minutes. Once the Elizabeth line is up and running, those times should decrease.
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You will also find plenty of facilities right outside your door. Woolwich’s high street has shops, cafes, and a market. She said that she feels like it’s a whole town. “I don’t always have to take the train to go somewhere. A 10-minute walk will take you to the Royal Arsenal. There are lovely restaurants and a nice cafe for brunch. It’s also possible to walk down to the river, which is great. “Karen is also encouraged to see the signs of ongoing regeneration within the centre of Woolwich. A new arts centre just opened, a new leisure center is planned, and the former covered marketplace will be repurposed with a movie theatre, restaurants, bars, and a cafe. She said that it felt like an area in the up-and-coming, and that she felt it was a good decision to invest in buying here.