Is it better to rent or buy as a single mum?

Are you a single mum looking to move? Find out whether you’d be better off renting or buying a home. 

It is no secret that getting on the property ladder has never been more difficult than it is in the present day. Thanks to a mixture of the rate of inflation dwarfing the average wage rise, and the recently announced rise in interest rates, it doesn’t look as though it is going to get easier any time soon.

The argument between renting and buying is a simple one – whereas renting does not require a large deposit for a mortgage, there is an added sense of security in owning your home.

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Much of it depends on what your circumstance is and, if you are one of many single mums in the UK, you are probably not in the position to afford a mortgage.

Renting as a single mum

As a single parent, it can be difficult to find a property that suits your needs, especially if you are looking to do so via a council or housing association. This is because, usually, you will be limited to the number of bedrooms that you can apply for. The rules for one bedroom include:

  • A couple.
  • Single adult.
  • One child over 16 years of age.
  • Two children of the same sex under 16 years of age.
  • Two children of either sex under 10 years of age.

For example, this means that a single mother with two teenage boys aged 13 and 15 would only be able to apply for accommodation with two bedrooms as the boys would be expected to share a bedroom.

Renting privately

If renting privately either through an estate agent or directly through a landlord, then there are fewer restrictions on what you can put in for.

As long as you can clearly show that you can afford the monthly (or weekly) payments, as well as a deposit (usually a month’s rent plus £100-200), then you should be fine.

This is one of the reasons why single parents opt for privately rented accommodation, although some landlords may specify no children and/or pets, and can refuse prospective tenants with housing benefit and other allowances, preferring those in full-time employment.

While professionals should have no problem renting, single mums not in full-time employment may struggle to meet such demands and may be better off applying for a property through the council.

Buying as a single mum

For many single mums, buying a property is simply out of the question. Separating from a partner, married or otherwise, deals as much of a financial blow as an emotional one. The reality of having to live off one set of wages instead of two, for many, provides a harsh culture shock to many separated families.

It is, though, possible for some to buy and, if possible, will go some way to providing a settled environment for you and your child(ren). It can be possible to pick up houses to buy cheaper through auction sites (where you can also bid for properties to rent) by taking away costly admin fees.

What if you own a home with your ex?

If you and your ex-partner own a home between you, there are some options to help make the transition easier for all parties. These include:

  • Sell the home and use the money to buy new properties in which to live.
  • Make an arrangement for one to buy the other out, meaning that one keeps the home and the other has the funds to look for a new place to live.
  • Keep the home for one partner to live in it until your children are 18 or leave school (or another arrangement agreed upon by both parties).
  • Transfer part of the value of the property from one party to the over so as the children have somewhere to live – this way, the partner who gave up ownership retains a stake (or interest) in the property so as they receive a percentage of any sale.

Whether you choose to rent or buy is largely due to the circumstances in which you find yourself and, of course, what you can realistically afford. Whatever you decide, it is important that both parents but the needs of your children before anything else.

LetsBid is an online property auction, setting out to revolutionise the sales and letting industry.