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Generation Y and the Property Market - Bricks and Mortar or Snakes and Ladders?

19/06/2015 23:03 BST | Updated 19/06/2016 10:59 BST

There used to be a fair number of certainties for people in their 20s - it was assumed you'd get a job (maybe even straight out of school), get married, buy a house, and have kids. At least that's how it was for my parents and grandparents. But the job market has changed considerably - as has the housing market.

We get married later these days (if at all), jobs are harder to come by, and housing? Well that seems to be the piece of life's jigsaw that I haven't even begun to fully understand yet. I'd love to be able to say I'm at the stage where I'm close to my deposit being all saved up, while having a daily peruse of the houses for sale sites - and poised to swoop on a cool looking flat in a smart part of town. As it is, reality dictates that before I can do any of that, there's the small matter of paying off a student loan before I can think about a deposit. Then there's the other (not so small) matter of property prices.

According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, there are only 43 homes in London that are affordable to first-time buyers. Yes, you read that right. Not 43% of London property being affordable to first-time buyers. 43 properties. In a city of over 8 million people. And it seems that house price rises aren't exclusively a southern phenomenon either. According to property experts ASPC, house prices in Aberdeen have risen an eye-watering 87.8% over the last ten years. How many of us can say that our salaries have gone similarly skywards? Err, ... not me!

So what are the options for Generation Y-ers (a.k.a. millennials) like myself who - despite working hard for a degree and getting a job at the end of it - still can't quite jump for the first rung of the property ladder?

The first thing to do - and it's always good advice, this: don't panic. You're not alone! So very, very many of us are in this exact same boat, it's a mystery as to why there isn't a buzzword for our condition yet.

The second thing to do is to play the long game. In other words, don't give up. And don't go chasing properties you don't like just because they're cheap. Very cheap property is nearly always cheap for a reason, and the reason is usually that it has things needing fixed that will cost a lot of money on top. Playing the long game means accepting you may be renting for a while yet, and saving, saving, saving for the day when you can afford something with your name on the title deeds.

All of which means that it's imperative to rent wisely in the meantime. Luckily, there's a lot of property available for rent, and the prices can vary pretty wildly. So shop around. If you don't mind living somewhere that isn't within walking distance of the cinema and the best nightlife, you can get something that won't make you wince every month when the direct debit scoops the rent money out of your account.

Cities often have various areas that are known for something - there's the trendy area, the posh area, the slightly 'edgy' area, and so on. If you're a seasoned renter, the area you want to home in on is the slightly unfashionable area that nobody ever really mentions - this is where you will often find rental bargains. It's an area that's usually someplace out on the periphery. An area that seems quite remote to the city centre dwellers - which in itself can be quite deceptive, as it's usually less than half an hour into town by public transport. There are added bonuses here too - lower council tax (hopefully) less noise, and the satisfaction of knowing you've strategically picked the best deal going.

While my approach to housing may be stoical, it hasn't stopped me dreaming. I still buy a lottery ticket every week, and if the numbers ever do come up, I will be buying a place with a river view and a rooftop garden. But I won't be paying a penny over the odds for it, rich or not!