Alice-Azania Jarvis: The pitfalls of being a property owner have taken their toll

In The Red
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The Independent Online

So I'm thinking of selling my flat. Madness, I know, especially after buying it approximately two weeks before the international property market crashed. But what can you do? As it happens, I managed to get a relatively good price (the seller was a friend of a friend, so we didn't need an agent) and, at the time, I was convinced that it was The Only One For Me.

I'm still semi-convinced of the matter; it really is a lovely place, and after a year of drip-drip spending, I've finally managed to get the sitting-room exactly the way I want it (the other rooms have yet to have a cent spent on them, and remain largely unfurnished).

Plus, there's the cosy little selection of restaurants across the road, most of which appear to be in some way linked to the London Buddhist Centre (also across the road): the vegetarian brunch spot, the pescatarian Thai place, and the art-gallery-cum-teashop. All terribly twee I know, though undeniably lovely.

Still, it's there lurking in the back of my mind: the prospect of selling. I'm so far along in the decision-making process as to have asked an estate agent to value the property (pleasingly, he doesn't seem to think I'm going to make an astronomical loss).

The thing is, I'm just not sure I want to own a flat. Obviously, I'm incredibly lucky to be even making that decision (though long-term readers will remember the agonising that went into getting to that particular point). And, obviously, I can see the benefits of owning (primarily, the great big piece of collateral you have waiting for you when you pay off your mortgage). But, as far as I'm concerned, there are a host of disadvantages, too.

Number one, really, is the fact that to lay my hands on that collateral, I'm going to have to do a awful lot of sacrificing along the way. At the moment, my mortgage payments consume the lion's share of my paycheck (when you throw in utilities, student loan repayments, and council tax, it doesn't leave very much to play with).

And I can't, for the life of me, see a time when that's likely to change. True, renting is, in many respects, money down the drain. But at least it would leave me with some money to spend on, uh, food. And, of course, there's the tempting lack of responsibility that comes with renting: the whole call-up-the-landlord-and-get-it fixed mentality.

As recent dealings with the plumbing have confirmed, getting things fixed is not my strong point. So there we have it: my case for getting off the property ladder. Now all I want to know is, anyone interested in buying my flat?

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