I saved £20k for first-home while renting by swapping nights out for Pokemon Go – without the help of my parents.

A SCIENTIST saved £20,000 to buy her first home by swapping nights out to play Pokemon Go instead.

Rosie Daffern, 29, used to spend around £150 a month on going to the pub with pals but accelerated her savings by playing the free app-based game.

 Rosie took up playing Pokemon Go in her free time to free up extra cash

Rosie took up playing Pokemon Go in her free time to free up extra cashCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

She is one of the 29 per cent of first-time buyers, according to the Post Office, who saved the cash without any help from their parents.

She bought her two-bed terrace house in Manchester in October last year for £97,000 with a £17,000 deposit after five years of cutting back.

Rosie began tucking away just £250 a month from her £15,500 a year salary, leaving herself with just £350 to live off after rent and bills.

As her salary slowly increased to £18,000, she put aside the extra earnings into savings pushing the amount up to £500 a month.

 Her house is a two-up, two-down outside of Manchester city centre

Her house is a two-up, two-down outside of Manchester city centreCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

 Rosie's lived in her house for a year now with her cat Milo

Rosie's lived in her house for a year now with her cat MiloCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

To cut down on her outgoings, the environmental scientist joined local Facebook and Whatsapp groups dedicated to playing the AR game, which sees players use their phones to hunt down Pokemon that are seemingly in the real world.

Nights out weren’t off the table entirely but she’d limit herself to buying just two drinks before heading back home.

“It’s free to play, gets me out of the house and helped me make a bunch of new friends where I live,” Rosie explained.

After hitting the £17,000 mark in her fourth year of saving, Rosie tried to get a mortgage but was “laughed out of the room” by high street lenders who said she wouldn’t pass the “stress test” on her low salary.


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This is how lenders assess whether you’ll be able to pay back the loan, taking into account any possible changes in the future such as interest rates, possible redundancies, having a baby or taking a career break.

If the lender isn’t convinced that you’ll be able to afford your mortgage payments if any of these things happened, they might limit how much you can borrow or flat out refuse to give you a loan.

Feeling dejected, Rosie paused her house hunt for another year while she saved an extra £3,000.

During the same period, she got a pay rise boosting her salary to £18,000 a year and this time around, she passed.

For the My First home series, we spoke to Rosie about what it takes to buy property completely on your own.

What’s your house like?

I live in Manchester so my house is your typical two-up, two-down terrace home.

 She had to pay for the whole house to be made damp-proof before moving in

She had to pay for the whole house to be made damp-proof before moving inCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

The front door opens straight out onto the street so it’s on-street parking if anyone visits me with a car.

There’s a small yard around the back too, which is big enough for a small table and chairs.

I live here with my cat, Milo - and my boyfriend’s now moved in as well.

Let’s talk finances. How did you afford it?

The house was marketed at £100,000, which at first I offered to pay but the surveyors picked up a few issues with the house when they came around.

There were issues with the roof that brought in damp, there was a structural problem with one of the windows that had to be fixed and it needed damp proofing throughout.

 Rosie saved £20,000 over five years in total putting £17,000 down for a deposit

Rosie saved £20,000 over five years in total putting £17,000 down for a depositCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

 Downstairs is a living room and the kitchen which didn't need any work doing to it

Downstairs is a living room and the kitchen which didn't need any work doing to itCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

It didn’t put me off, instead I just researched how much the work would cost, got a quote of around £3,000, and then knocked that off my offer.

The survey report cost me about £350, I didn’t go for the cheapest option, which was worth the money because otherwise I could have been hit with urgent problems that I couldn’t afford to pay for.

In the end, I bought my home for £97,000 with a 17.5 per cent deposit - so £17,000.

I fixed into a three-year deal at 2.29 per cent which I’m paying back over 30 years, although I hope to shorten that term when I come to remortgage.

I now pay £300 a month for my mortgage - £100 less that what I paid to rent - but I’m paying off £500 a month to try and help pay it off quicker.

How did you save the £17,000 deposit while renting?

Actually, I’d saved £20,000 but I used the money left over getting the issues fixed.

I’ve always been a saver and always knew that I wanted to own my own home. I’ve just always made sure that I put some of my salary aside into savings.

What help is out there for first-time buyers?

GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.

Help to Buy Isa - It's a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there's a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move.

Help to Buy equity loan - The Government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the home's value - or 40 per cent in London - after you've put down a five per cent deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.

Lifetime Isa - This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25 per cent on top.

Shared ownership - Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25 to 75 per cent of the property but you're restricted to specific ones.

"First dibs" in London - London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.

Starter Home Initiative - A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20 per cent discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.

I had a bit of savings when I first moved to Manchester but relocating from the East Midlands had eaten up a huge chunk of it.

Me and my brother rented a two-bed flat together her in the city, where we paid £400 a month, including bills.

I was only earning £13,500 a year when I first started saving and as my salary increased over the years up to £21,000, I didn’t increase my outgoings and put more into savings.

For the first three years, I was halfheartedly saving - maybe putting aside £250 a month.

It’s all about budgeting and sticking to it. After tax, I was getting around £1,000 a month from my job, so I set aside £400 for rent and bills.

 The previous owner left all of their furniture behind saving Rosie over £1,000 on kitting out the house

The previous owner left all of their furniture behind saving Rosie over £1,000 on kitting out the houseCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

 Rosie's boyfriend has now moved in with her although the mortgage is in her name

Rosie's boyfriend has now moved in with her although the mortgage is in her nameCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

I was left with £350 a month to live off, including food, and then divided that by four to get me through the weeks.

In the final two years of saving, and as my salary increased, I thought no, I really want to buy somewhere and doubled what I was saving to £500 a month.

I had to delete eBay to stop me from mindlessly spending and cut back on going out.

If I did go out, I’d limit myself to two drinks and make them last - I reckon this saved me about £150 a month.

I swapped nights out with playing Pokemon Go because it’s free and really social.

I didn’t have a car or anything and stuck to the cheapest phone contracts to save more money.

 Rosie's cat Milo moved from the flat to her house too

Rosie's cat Milo moved from the flat to her house tooCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

 Rosie only bought a new mattress when she moved in as the previous owner left all their furniture behind

Rosie only bought a new mattress when she moved in as the previous owner left all their furniture behindCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

In the five years I was saving, I went on one holiday to Japan which cost me £1,500 of my savings but so worth it.

Did you struggle to get a mortgage on your own?

I didn’t find the process hard but finding out what I could borrow on my own was annoying.

I first started looking seriously the year before I actually moved in, when I hit my £17,000 target, and went to get a mortgage from one lender and they literally laughed me out of the room.

 Upstairs is the main bedroom, the second bedroom and the bathroom

Upstairs is the main bedroom, the second bedroom and the bathroomCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

 The scientist has spent the past year doing up the home how she likes it

The scientist has spent the past year doing up the home how she likes itCredit: Paul Cousans - The Sun

The estate agents I was using had a broker they worked with and they helped me get a mortgage with a different provider.

My salary had increased to £18,000 a year and I’d saved another £3,000 towards the deposit and I passed no problem.

It cost me £200 but now he’s my broker for life and will help me in the future for no extra cost.

Did it cost much to furnish it?

Actually, I only bought a mattress in the end because the previous owner wanted to leave everything behind.

It’s all in good condition - I’ve got two sofas, coffee tables, TV stand, fridge-freezer, dishwasher and washing machine.

I reckon that saved me a few thousand pounds.

What was it like to finally get the keys?

I completed on the house at the beginning of October last year but didn’t move in for three weeks while I had the work done, so there was a short time where I was paying rent and a mortgage.

But by the end of the month, I’d moved in properly and I love it. My partner now lives here too.

I’m now just focusing on paying off the mortgage and enjoying being a homeowner.

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