What I Own: Martha, who put down a 15% deposit on her Croydon house with her boyfriend

We’re in south London this week (Picture: Lucy Young/

Welcome back to another instalment of What I Own – our weekly property series.

Last week, we chatted to Alicia who put down a £7,000 deposit on her Liverpool home.

This time we are heading down south, to London, to speak with Martha – who bought her house in East Croydon two years ago.

This is what she had to say about getting on the property ladder as a first-time buyer…

Tell us about yourself.

I’m 25 years old, and my boyfriend is 26. I work as a strategist within PR and he works in data analysis in the Civil Service. We’re based in East Croydon, which we absolutely love. 

Where is your property? 

It’s in East Croydon. We absolutely love the area. You can get pretty much anywhere from Croydon – the transport links are amazing, and it makes you feel like you’re never too far from anyone. It’s also got the benefit of being near to central London, but equally near to amazing green areas beyond London. It’s a lovely middle ground. 

Beyond that, there’s a very communal feel to it. There’s lots of lovely independent shops – we were saved in the pandemic by the local grocers because they actually had fresh food and loo roll, and there’s actually loads to do. It’s not just a Box Park!

They like the communal feel of East Croydon (Picture: Lucy Young)

When did you move in?

November 2019, just before the pandemic hit. 

How much does your property cost?

It was on the market for £345,000, but the final cost was £342,500.

How much was your deposit?


What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?

The mortgage is £1,290, WiFi and TV is £57, water and electricity is about £150 and council tax is £130. So the total is about £1,637, which between us is super manageable. 

They pay £1,290 a month towards the mortgage (Picture: Lucy Young)

How did you save up for your deposit?

We both went straight into working after leaving uni, and I lived at home for a year which allowed me to save a lot. When I eventually moved into London, we shared a room in a rented shared flat, which meant we paid barely anything in rent, so it was a great way for us to save.

We both also got Monzo cards when moving to London, so we could easily see what our biggest outgoings were, and that helped enormously in identifying areas where we needed to calm down a bit.

I think it would also be remiss not to mention that I was very fortunate to receive a sum of inheritance money from a grandparent that really helped us bump up our deposit from the 10 to 15% threshold. 

What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?

It was probably one of the least painful elements of the process. We were already with the bank that we decided to get our mortgage from, so that made it a lot easier.

Having said that, the biggest issue we found was that my salary was significantly lower than my boyfriend’s, and that really lowered how much we were able to borrow – so it meant we had to rely on our deposit to get a better monthly rate. 

We also failed the first credit check because my boyfriend filled out one of his old addresses wrong… 

Hey kitty (Picture: Lucy Young)

Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?

We were renting one room between us in a flatshare in Clapham Junction. Before that I lived at home with family just outside of North London and my boyfriend lived in Putney in a flatshare. 

What made you want to buy rather than renting?

When the tenancy came up on our shared room in Clapham Junction, we started looking for one beds so we could move in together. We were shocked at the quality of one beds within our price range. My salary at the time wasn’t great, and it meant our budget was a lot lower, so the types of flats we were seeing were just grim. They weren’t well-connected, and a lot of them were just quite grimy. 

After a lot of financial sit-downs, we realised that with our savings we could probably afford a decent deposit, and worked out that we could be paying a mortgage of £1,300 a month for a whole house compared to paying more in rent for a one bed flat that was nowhere near as nice.  

Great reading material (Picture: Lucy Young)

How did you find this property? What made you choose it?

We found it via Purple Bricks, as we found the process of pushy estate agents clearly after commission quite tiresome. We liked Purple Bricks because the staff were so much more chilled and made the whole process a lot nicer. 

Our house was actually the last we had booked in to see – I almost cancelled the viewing because I was so hungover but my boyfriend wouldn’t let me. 

We loved it the minute we saw it. It had such a Cornwall-esque cottage feel to it, and everything about it felt homely and cosy. The owner also provided a booklet she’d written with details about the house, the neighbours, the area and her favourite things about it (we still refer to it). It just sounded so idyllic and personable. The bathroom was also a big pull – it’s so needlessly fancy, I could just picture my evening baths in it.  

How have you made the property feel like home?

I think with small purchases – little and often – to make it feel more homely. We spent most of our budget on buying the house, and then on fixing issues that needed sorting, so we didn’t have much budget to actually decorate and ‘make it ours.’

We were lucky in that a lot of family and friends donated furniture and things to help us get by, and then the longer we’ve lived here, the more we’ve swapped things out with furniture that we actually want, but I think it’ll be a very long process. My mum always said a house is never finished and I’m starting to see what she meant. 

At the beginning, we bought a lot of plants, and got friends to give us cuttings of their plants – I always think plants make a house feel homely. We classically bought a lot of fairy lights, and then used things like gin and wine bottles as vases and candle holders, and then bought second hand furniture – so it was a lot of using what was available to us to make it feel like home. 

Got things covered in the brew department (Picture: Lucy Young)

What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?

Cheap and cheerful. Neither of us have ‘the eye’, and we don’t have a lot of money rolling around to decorate, so most of the decor is what’s affordable and what feels cosy. I think over time we want to make the house more mature and decorate it a bit more stylishly, but we just don’t have the funds right now – so we’re making do with ‘cheap, cheerful and cosy.’

I do quite like a Scandi, minimalist vibe – so working towards that as and when we can afford to buy new furniture, and eventually replace things like floors. 

What’s your favourite room and why?

Is it weird to say the bathroom? It’s just so beautifully decorated and I feel unreasonably bougie having a bath in it.

If it is weird… I would say the living room. It’s quite small, but it’s just so cosy, and I love sitting in it in the evenings with a blanket and a cup of tea.  

The booze corner (Picture: Lucy Young)

Do you feel like you have enough space?

For now. We were so lucky during the pandemic that we had a spare room where one of us could work, and that we have a garden which we can use as outdoor entertaining space. I think the rooms themselves are quite small, and you do feel it when you have guests over, but for the two of us it’s definitely more than what we need. 

Do you have plans to change the property?

Do I?! If I won the lottery… oh the things I’d do. For now the dream is to finally paint it after two years, change the downstairs floors to a wooden look and feel, and then redo the kitchen cabinets and sink.

At the moment, the painting is probably the only thing within budget, so that’ll have to do.  

Some wall details (Picture: Lucy Young)

Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?

When we first moved in, the boiler broke, so we had to replace it (in the depths of winter – it was a good time for all involved). We also had to replace the insulation in the roof, and remove the old chimney stacks – so it was a lot of super boring repairs that needed doing. 

Beyond that – as it’s an old Victorian house, there is occasionally mould, but it’s very manageable.

What do you want people to know about buying a home?

Please please give yourself a contingency budget. We spent most of our money on the house and the legal fees etc, but we were so lucky that we’d budgeted to save some additional money, because a new boiler and fixing the roof was not cheap by any means. 

What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?

I think we’ll stay here for the next few years. We’ve got plenty of space, and we love how connected we are to (seemingly) everywhere. It’s an ideal location, and the house is perfect for us both, so I think we’ll stay put for the next 3-5 years. 

Shall we take a look around?

An inviting space (Picture: Lucy Young)
Martha enjoys a cuppa in this room (Picture: Lucy Young)
Cute candle (Picture: Lucy Young)
Cosy corners (Picture: Lucy Young)
Some foliage too (Picture: Lucy Young)
The kitchen (Picture: Lucy Young)
All the essentuals (Picture: Lucy Young)
Leads through to the dining area (Picture: Lucy Young)
Plus an extra home-office spot (Picture: Lucy Young)
A handy corner (Picture: Lucy Young)
Let’s head upstairs (Picture: Lucy Young)
The master suite (Picture: Lucy Young)
We spy a trombone (Picture: Lucy Young)
Light and bright (Picture: Lucy Young)
The spare room (Picture: Lucy Young)
Which doubles up as a home office (Picture: Lucy Young)
The bathroom (Picture: Lucy Young)
Love the jazzy floor (Picture: Lucy Young)
This is Martha’s favourite room (Picture: Lucy Young)
Good storage options (Picture: Lucy Young)
A great garden space too (Picture: Martha)

Do you want to feature in What I Own?

What I Own is a series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email

You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important. 

If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email

MORE : What I Own: Alicia, who put down a £7,000 deposit on her Liverpool home

MORE : What I Own: Stuart, who pays £1,040 a month for the mortgage on his Brighton townhouse

MORE : What I Own: Software consultant Vidhya, who put down a £7,500 deposit on her two-bed Glasgow flat with Help to Buy


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