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Kent couple living with parents in Herne Bay go viral - but how hard is it to buy your first home?

When Bec and Sam Bartley posted a clip on social media playfully describing their life after having moved in with Bec’s parents on the Kent coast, they didn’t expect it to go viral.

But more than 14 million views later, it is clear they struck a chord with the increasing number of twenty-and thirty-somethings ending up back under Mum and Dad’s roof.

Desperate for a place of their own, the married couple struggled for years to put money away for their first home while renting a one-bed flat in London.

But Bec, 34, and Sam, 30, finally bit the bullet last July, swapping the capital for a slower pace of life in Herne Bay - and back in Bec’s old childhood bedroom.

In their tongue-in-cheek video, the pair give viewers a tour of the house, pointing out the various perks of life back ‘at home’ - free use of Dad’s car, take-away dinners on Mum’s card, not to mention rent and utilities provided gratis.

“Are you ever gonna move out or what?” asks Bec’s Dad in the video.

“Move out? Nah - I’m living here forever!” responds Bec.

Charmed as life seems in the sketch, Bec says the decision to relocate was not an easy one.

“We were worried about the stigma of moving back with your parents...”

“We knew that the way to save the most money would be to live with our parents, but initially we thought - no we can’t do that,” she told KentOnline this week.

“We were worried about the stigma of moving back with your parents at this stage in life.

“But it got to a point where the desire to have our own place outweighed anything else.”

Why so many are back living with Mum and Dad

Statistics show the couple’s living arrangements are in fact not that unusual at all.

The most recent census data reveals more than one in five Kent households are home to adult children.

And despite Bec and Sam’s initial anxiety about what it would be like living with their parents/in-laws, they now say the arrangement has been working well.

“We were worried about not having our own space because we have lived together since 2015 and we work from home,” continued Bec.

“But actually in reality it’s been fine - there are two living rooms here so we meet in the kitchen and have a cup of tea.

“Especially being in the small town of Herne Bay we thought we would miss the big city more, but actually we’re enjoyed the slower pace - maybe we’re getting old.”

Bec and Sam moved back in with Bec's parents in Herne Bay after they struggled to save up for a house of their own. Picture: Bec Bartley
Bec and Sam moved back in with Bec's parents in Herne Bay after they struggled to save up for a house of their own. Picture: Bec Bartley

The couple say they have been grateful for their folks’ generosity, but wish there had been more government support to help them save up while maintaining their independence.

How things have got tougher for first-time buyers

Up until last year, the government’s Help to Buy programme offered a 20% loan towards deposits on new-build homes, while first-time buyers had to stump up 5%.

Figures from the National Land Registry show that five years ago, the average price paid by first-time buyers in Kent was £238,133. So, using Help to Buy, they could have put down a 5% deposit of £11,906.

Five years later, the average price paid by first-time buyers in the county has risen to £278,917.

But the Help to Buy scheme ended on March 31, 2023. Those hoping to get on the ladder can still do so with a 5% deposit (about £14,000 on average), using the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme.

However, monthly mortgage payments will be much higher compared to 2019, as interest rates have soared and the 20% Help to Buy loan to boost deposits is no longer available.

Estimated repayments for an average first house in 2024 purchased with a 5% deposit would be £1,618 a month, more than double what you would have paid in 2019.

KentOnline asked its followers on Facebook if they are still living with their parents and struggling to buy a home of their own.

Hannah Nunn said: “Myself and partner are 33 and 35 and just about to exchange on our first home. Mortgage repayments for a three-bed house with only a 5% deposit are astronomical.”

Posting a laughing emoji, she added: “I'd stay with my Mum if I could.”

Another reader, Emma Louise Hazelwood, said: “I'm 35 and still live with parents.

“All the new-build houses popping up everywhere are well out of reach...”

“I work full time and always have. I still wouldn't be able to rent or own a shed in the garden let alone a house.”

Nicola Ramsell described the situation as “ridiculous”.

“All the new-build houses popping up everywhere are well out of reach,” she said.

“What about building modest, two- or three-bed terraced houses for normal working-class families that can't afford a £400,000 mortgage?”

However, Lisa Butcher argued that people might be aiming too high with their first homes and might be better off working their way up.

She said: “My husband and I got our first mortgage at 23, a one-bed bed flat in Gravesend. It wasn’t much but it was ours.

“We saved for another five years and bought our three-bed house in Strood.”

Interestingly, Nationwide says the average first-time buyer in Kent pays a deposit of 24% on average - which equates to about £57,000. Research suggests 61% get financial help from their parents in doing so.

Should they come to power in the upcoming election, the Labour party have pledged to make the Conservatives’ mortgage guarantee scheme permanent, under the new name “Freedom to Buy”. Under the initiative, the government acts as a guarantor for part of a mortgage, incentivising lenders to offer low-deposit deals.

What’s next for Sam and Bec?

Under the handle @bamcomedyuk on Instagram and TikTok, Sam and Bec produce all sorts of quirky and satirical content for social media.

But with 14.3 million views and counting, this recent clip is by far their most popular.

“We’ve definitely tapped into that demographic of millennials boomeranging back to their parents and into parents who are watching this with their kids at home,” added Bec.

“In a funny way it’s highlighted that it’s okay if you have to do it, you have to do it and there’s no shame.”

Read more of our Spotlight on Housing features here

Luckily for Bec and Sam, blessed with the chance to save up over the past year, they have now managed to put in an offer for a house in Folkestone.

They have not taken advantage of the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme - instead intending to put down a 17% deposit.

The couple – who write comedy sketches and produce videos for social media and brands - also clarified that in reality, while living with Bec’s parents they have not been the freeloaders their video suggests.

"We do pay bills, and petrol,” explained Bec.

“It’s just rent that we don’t pay, which is very kind on our parent’s behalf, but they are more than happy to have us here - we just told them to look miserable in the video.

“To be fair though, they do get us takeaways quite often.”

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