#10 (2015) The Self Employed Home Owner – Myth Or Tangible Reality?
Last October David Cameron described small business owners as “national heroes”. I don’t feel like a national hero.
The reality is that self employment may be at a high, but poverty for those in work means many self employed people are not earning enough to live on and probably never will. I suppose in a way that does make us all national heroes. After all, we make the country look good. And we make the Government look like it knows what it’s doing. The nasty statistics which marr its image just get swept under the carpet.
Aside from the general income problem for the self employed, there’s the housing problem. If you are part of a couple and your partner is employed, you can probably manage a place of your own to live in and possibly to work in as well, keeping office costs down.
But if like me you are a single, self employed person in the early years of a new business, things are not easy. For the first 3 years of business I lived in house shares. I slept and worked in one room for 3 and a half years. Don’t ask me how I did it, I have no idea.
I relocated not so long ago to a bigger thriving city. I have kept up the house share charade but managed to get myself a separate place of work. Yes Manchester does have affordable space. At the very least I have work/home life separation. And even if my living space isn’t great, work is more satisfactory. To a certain extent I have a better quality of life. At least when I have to suddenly move house shares because of horrible situations (I won’t put up with anything) I only have to move me, and not an entire business – all 277 sqft of it.
Of course ideally at my age I should not be sharing with a bunch of strangers. Seven moves tells me this is never going to work. Realistically I have two options out of this situation – to rent my own place big enough for me to work in and ditch the studio. It means working from home again but means I can consolidate my finances. Secondly, I could get a mortgage. Realistically that’s the sensible option. But it reads like a comedy. Self employed + mortgage. You are kidding right? Well yes of course I am kidding. What hope in hell have I of ever getting a mortgage?
The stupid thing is, repayments are far cheaper than rent. I pay £370 a month for a houseshare. If I rent a 2 bed place of my own, it’s going to cost me in the region of £450 but if I dump the studio it just about balances out. Theoretically I could get a mortgage for less than £300 a month. So close, yet so far out of reach. It almost makes no sense that they wouldn’t lend.
I am surviving off my income but any mortgage lender would chuckle at my tax records. I get by, but I haven’t actually paid any tax in the nearly 4 years of my business’s existence. For the three years before that I was at Uni so it’s been a hell of a long time since I last contributed to paying back the deficit. Even though I worked in good jobs for the 20 years before that.
Right now, I am thinking of consolidating everything and renting my own place at some point this year. There aren’t many I can afford but if they’ll have me it’ll work out the same as me working from home so I won’t actually be spending any more than I do now. But it’s going to take time to find the right place.
In the meantime, I am still in house shares. I am already on the move to my second permanent home since I moved in January (and my third residence since I got here). It just doesn’t bear thinking about.