<p>Figure is twice that of pay settlements across the country and comes amid a rise in inflation</p><p>The rate of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/houseprices">house price</a> growth increased to 5% in August, according to official government figures, pushing homes further out of the reach of aspiring young buyers already squeezed by <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/17/uk-inflation-at-five-year-high-of-3-to-boost-state-pension">rising inflation</a>.</p><p>The average UK house price rose by £1,000 in August to reach £226,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. The increase took the annualised rate of house price inflation to 5%, up from 4.5% in July and more than double the rate of pay settlements across the country. </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/17/house-prices-rising-5-a-year-in-more-bad-news-for-would-be-buyers">Continue reading...</a>

House prices rise 5% a year in more bad news for would-be buyers

Oct 17, 2017 11:40

Figure is twice that of pay settlements across the country and comes amid a rise in inflation

The rate of house price growth increased to 5% in August, according to official government figures, pushing homes further out of the reach of aspiring young buyers already squeezed by rising inflation.

The average UK house price rose by £1,000 in August to reach £226,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. The increase took the annualised rate of house price inflation to 5%, up from 4.5% in July and more than double the rate of pay settlements across the country.

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Readers respond to Britain’s chronic shortage of affordable housing with solutions of their own<p>Larry Elliott suggests five steps to fix the housing market (<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/08/the-uk-housing-markets-perfect-storm-and-five-steps-to-avoid-it" title="">Britain’s broken housing market – and how to fix it</a>, 9&nbsp;October) which include Kate Barker’s idea of “acquiring” large sites abutting urban areas at a modest premium to their existing use. That would effectively part-nationalise development value and might help supply, although the Tories wouldn’t do it because they reversed Labour’s two attempts at taxing development value, the Land Commission Act 1967 and the Community Land Act 1975/Development Land Tax 1976. Increased housing supply doesn’t automatically lead to lower prices of course (unless builders were to build at a rate that forced them to drop their own prices, which they wouldn’t) because, as&nbsp;Elliott says, the housing “market” isn’t&nbsp;a market at all in the traditional supply-and-demand sense.</p><p>Before more of this crowded country’s open space is concreted over and its amenity value taken from those abutting urban areas, other expedients could be deployed, like penal taxation of empty property and progressive taxation of inherited property wealth, the latter of which continues to snowball for the haves and push prices further beyond the have-nots. Those two measures would do more to bring prices back closer to a manageable multiplier of local earnings and improve the rising generation’s chances of ownership. Whether the banks’ loan books could stand the strain of falling prices – and how hard the Treasury would fight to avoid them – is another question.<br><strong>John Worrall</strong><br><em>Cromer, Norfolk</em></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/16/finding-solutions-to-the-uks-housing-crisis">Continue reading...</a>

Finding solutions to the UK’s housing crisis | Letters

Oct 16, 2017 18:16

Readers respond to Britain’s chronic shortage of affordable housing with solutions of their own

Larry Elliott suggests five steps to fix the housing market (Britain’s broken housing market – and how to fix it, 9 October) which include Kate Barker’s idea of “acquiring” large sites abutting urban areas at a modest premium to their existing use. That would effectively part-nationalise development value and might help supply, although the Tories wouldn’t do it because they reversed Labour’s two attempts at taxing development value, the Land Commission Act 1967 and the Community Land Act 1975/Development Land Tax 1976. Increased housing supply doesn’t automatically lead to lower prices of course (unless builders were to build at a rate that forced them to drop their own prices, which they wouldn’t) because, as Elliott says, the housing “market” isn’t a market at all in the traditional supply-and-demand sense.

Before more of this crowded country’s open space is concreted over and its amenity value taken from those abutting urban areas, other expedients could be deployed, like penal taxation of empty property and progressive taxation of inherited property wealth, the latter of which continues to snowball for the haves and push prices further beyond the have-nots. Those two measures would do more to bring prices back closer to a manageable multiplier of local earnings and improve the rising generation’s chances of ownership. Whether the banks’ loan books could stand the strain of falling prices – and how hard the Treasury would fight to avoid them – is another question.
John Worrall
Cromer, Norfolk

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<p>I’m due to inherit my parents’ semi but most of the advice I have read concerns buy-to-let, not outright ownership</p><p><strong tabindex="-1">Q </strong>I am due to inherit my parents’ three-bed semi in the Wirral which is worth about £180,000. </p><p>I have little idea about whether to sell and invest the capital for what I guess would be a return of about 2% from a bank or building society, or let the property which could give me a yield of about 5%. Similar houses in the area rent for £750 per month in the area. </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/16/should-i-let-out-my-parents-old-house-or-sell-it-and-invest-the-capital">Continue reading...</a>

Should I let out my parents' old house or sell it and invest the capital?

Oct 16, 2017 13:04

I’m due to inherit my parents’ semi but most of the advice I have read concerns buy-to-let, not outright ownership

Q I am due to inherit my parents’ three-bed semi in the Wirral which is worth about £180,000.

I have little idea about whether to sell and invest the capital for what I guess would be a return of about 2% from a bank or building society, or let the property which could give me a yield of about 5%. Similar houses in the area rent for £750 per month in the area.

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<p>Property website Rightmove says cheaper properties in the north of England are selling better than pricier southern homes</p><p>A new north-south property divide is emerging in the UK ahead of the festive season, with people selling second-stepper homes in the north of England standing the best chance of finding a buyer by Christmas, according to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/rightmove">Rightmove</a>.</p><p>Those selling more expensive “top of the ladder” properties in London and the south of England have the least chance, the property website said in its latest house prices report.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/16/house-prices-signs-of-new-north-south-divide-in-uk-market-emerge">Continue reading...</a>

House prices: signs of new north-south divide in UK market emerge

Oct 16, 2017 7:00

Property website Rightmove says cheaper properties in the north of England are selling better than pricier southern homes

A new north-south property divide is emerging in the UK ahead of the festive season, with people selling second-stepper homes in the north of England standing the best chance of finding a buyer by Christmas, according to Rightmove.

Those selling more expensive “top of the ladder” properties in London and the south of England have the least chance, the property website said in its latest house prices report.

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<p>More than half of all Australians will rent accommodation, but regulations make securing long-term housing a lottery </p><ul><li>Share your renting horror stories with us </li></ul><p>Susan Fisher* is living in limbo. The Melbourne-based accountant was renting a house in the city’s inner west when she was abruptly served an eviction notice in late June. </p><p>She had moved into the property at the beginning of the year after being evicted from another Melbourne house at the end of 2016.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/14/insecurity-fear-uncertainty-the-harsh-truths-about-renting-share-your-story">Continue reading...</a>

Insecurity, fear, uncertainty: the harsh truths about renting – share your story

Oct 14, 2017 1:12

More than half of all Australians will rent accommodation, but regulations make securing long-term housing a lottery

  • Share your renting horror stories with us

Susan Fisher* is living in limbo. The Melbourne-based accountant was renting a house in the city’s inner west when she was abruptly served an eviction notice in late June.

She had moved into the property at the beginning of the year after being evicted from another Melbourne house at the end of 2016.

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An expected interest rate rise means lenders are pulling their cheapest deals. We survey the best left on the market<p>It’s crunch time for anyone thinking about switching to a new&nbsp;mortgage, after a string of lenders hiked the cost of their fixed-rate home loans.</p><p>During the past few days, lenders have been frantically pulling their lowest-priced deals or repricing them upwards as they prepare for an interest rate rise that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2017/sep/14/bank-of-england-interest-rates-john-lewis-profits-halve-business-live" title="">could come as early as next month</a>.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/13/remortgage-now-cheap-fixed-rate-deal-interest-rate-rise">Continue reading...</a>

Remortgage now to grab a cheap fixed-rate deal … before they’re gone

Oct 13, 2017 7:01

An expected interest rate rise means lenders are pulling their cheapest deals. We survey the best left on the market

It’s crunch time for anyone thinking about switching to a new mortgage, after a string of lenders hiked the cost of their fixed-rate home loans.

During the past few days, lenders have been frantically pulling their lowest-priced deals or repricing them upwards as they prepare for an interest rate rise that could come as early as next month.

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<p>You can be a contender with the extraordinary 70-metre Bougainville houseboat, but it’ll cost you £770,000</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/oct/13/live-on-the-waterfront-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Live on the waterfront – in pictures

Oct 13, 2017 6:30

You can be a contender with the extraordinary 70-metre Bougainville houseboat, but it’ll cost you £770,000

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<p>Labour says Jackie Doyle-Price resurrected ‘dementia tax’ by saying taxpayer should not ‘prop up’ people with care needs</p><p>Homes should not be seen as assets for parents to pass to their children, a Conservative minister has said in new footage recorded from the party’s conference, which Labour said <a draggable="true" href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/22/theresa-may-u-turn-on-dementia-tax-cap-social-care-conservative-manifesto">resurrected the idea of a “dementia tax”</a>.</p><p>The social care minister, Jackie Doyle-Price, told a fringe meeting that many older people were “sitting in homes that really are too big for their needs” and said the party was still looking to make reforms to the funding of social care. </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/12/labour-accuses-tories-of-reviving-dementia-tax-after-ministers-property-remarks">Continue reading...</a>

Homes are not assets to be passed on to children, says minister

Oct 12, 2017 9:18

Labour says Jackie Doyle-Price resurrected ‘dementia tax’ by saying taxpayer should not ‘prop up’ people with care needs

Homes should not be seen as assets for parents to pass to their children, a Conservative minister has said in new footage recorded from the party’s conference, which Labour said resurrected the idea of a “dementia tax”.

The social care minister, Jackie Doyle-Price, told a fringe meeting that many older people were “sitting in homes that really are too big for their needs” and said the party was still looking to make reforms to the funding of social care.

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<p>Ashley Tabor has applied to make country’s most expensive apartment by knocking together two penthouses in Knightsbridge</p><p>Planning officials have ruled that Westminster council should reject plans by the multimillionaire owner of Classic FM to create the country’s most expensive flat.</p><p>Ashley Tabor, 40, had hoped to knock together two properties at the top of the luxury Knightsbridge Apartments complex to create a £200m penthouse flat with 10 bedrooms, a cinema, “butler’s pantry” and “service kitchen”. </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/11/planning-chief-rules-against-radio-bosss-record-breaking-200m-flat">Continue reading...</a>

Council rules against radio boss's record-breaking £200m flat

Oct 11, 2017 18:38

Ashley Tabor has applied to make country’s most expensive apartment by knocking together two penthouses in Knightsbridge

Planning officials have ruled that Westminster council should reject plans by the multimillionaire owner of Classic FM to create the country’s most expensive flat.

Ashley Tabor, 40, had hoped to knock together two properties at the top of the luxury Knightsbridge Apartments complex to create a £200m penthouse flat with 10 bedrooms, a cinema, “butler’s pantry” and “service kitchen”.

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<p>ONS figures compare prices per sq metre in England and Wales – and suggest new homes are, in fact, bigger than old ones </p><p>It now costs nearly £19,500 to buy enough residential floorspace for a decent-sized coffee table in London’s priciest borough – but only £777 to accommodate the same small piece of furniture in a living room in south Wales, according to official statistics that highlight a widening north-south divide.</p><p>According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average cost of one square metre of residential floor space in England and Wales last year was £2,395. </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/11/kensington-ebbw-vale-price-sq-m-uk-property-divide">Continue reading...</a>

Kensington v Ebbw Vale: floor space price study highlights property divide

Oct 11, 2017 16:24

ONS figures compare prices per sq metre in England and Wales – and suggest new homes are, in fact, bigger than old ones

It now costs nearly £19,500 to buy enough residential floorspace for a decent-sized coffee table in London’s priciest borough – but only £777 to accommodate the same small piece of furniture in a living room in south Wales, according to official statistics that highlight a widening north-south divide.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average cost of one square metre of residential floor space in England and Wales last year was £2,395.

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<p>Research labs once lined the North Circular, but now this is a cosmopolitan suburb with wonderful views and a lovely park</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> When I’m bored, I like to imagine another fate for Dollis Hill. Today, it’s a synonym for suburbia, the hill striped with 1920s semis, the tube station sucking in and belching out its daily diet of commuters; but it’s a cosmopolitan kind of suburb, and those semis soon filled with aspirant Jewish émigrés from the East End. Dollis Hill coulda been a contender. It could have been Silicon, er, Hill. In its heyday, when research labs lined the North Circular, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/12/bletchley-park-national-museum-computing-berlin-wall-restored-colossus-codebreaking">Colossus computer, of code-breaking fame</a>, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/nov/01/fancy-the-luck-of-the-draw-premium-bonds-turn-60">Ernie the computer for premium bonds</a>, were built in its Post Office Research Station. (Yes, there was a Post Office Research Station. I feel an Ealing comedy coming on.) Had global fortunes not turned the way they did, Dollis Hill might have had its own <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/stevejobs">Steve Jobs</a> or <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/billgates">Bill Gates</a>. Instead, they’re probably pushing the grandkids around <a href="https://www.brent.gov.uk/services-for-residents/sport-leisure-and-parks/parks/park-finder/gladstone-park/">Gladstone Park</a>, dreaming about what might have been.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> Suburban ennui. The lovely Gladstone Park aside, there’s not much to it, just a parade of newsagents and offies by the station and endless avenues.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/06/lets-move-dollis-hill-north-west-london-silicon-research-labs">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Dollis Hill, north-west London: ‘It could have been Silicon Hill’

Oct 6, 2017 16:30

Research labs once lined the North Circular, but now this is a cosmopolitan suburb with wonderful views and a lovely park

What’s going for it? When I’m bored, I like to imagine another fate for Dollis Hill. Today, it’s a synonym for suburbia, the hill striped with 1920s semis, the tube station sucking in and belching out its daily diet of commuters; but it’s a cosmopolitan kind of suburb, and those semis soon filled with aspirant Jewish émigrés from the East End. Dollis Hill coulda been a contender. It could have been Silicon, er, Hill. In its heyday, when research labs lined the North Circular, the Colossus computer, of code-breaking fame, and Ernie the computer for premium bonds, were built in its Post Office Research Station. (Yes, there was a Post Office Research Station. I feel an Ealing comedy coming on.) Had global fortunes not turned the way they did, Dollis Hill might have had its own Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Instead, they’re probably pushing the grandkids around Gladstone Park, dreaming about what might have been.

The case against Suburban ennui. The lovely Gladstone Park aside, there’s not much to it, just a parade of newsagents and offies by the station and endless avenues.

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Forget the flood of 2004: this little town has lost none of its power to delight<p>W<strong>hat’s going for it?</strong> Some places are synonymous with unhappy events. But as time passes, the notoriety usually fades. (Who now remembers the 19th-century <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2158458/Murder-starvation-It-scandalised-Victorian-Britain-chilling-book-tells-fortune-grabbing-husband-forced-heiress-wife-baby-die-hunger-.html" title="">Penge Murders</a>? Exactly.) Boscastle has recovered&nbsp;from <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/aug/17/weather.climatechange4" title="">the devastating flash flood </a>that poured into the valley – gosh, was&nbsp;it really 13&nbsp;years&nbsp;ago? No doubt&nbsp;the night of&nbsp;16&nbsp;August 2004 is still scoured&nbsp;on the memories of locals, who have done a remarkable job of drying themselves off and reinventing the community as a kind of green hub. But in 100&nbsp;years, perhaps Boscastle will be&nbsp;renowned&nbsp;again for its remarkable beauty and&nbsp;peace, its lovely little fishing port and harbour, its green hills sliced by cliffs into those classic Cornish coves that so delighted <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hardy" title="">Thomas Hardy</a>. Here for his day job as an architect,&nbsp;restoring St Juliot church in Lesnewth, one day the writer saw <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pair_of_Blue_Eyes" title="">A Pair Of Blue Eyes</a> belonging to the rector’s sister-in-law.&nbsp;Reader, he&nbsp;married her.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> The usual Cornish caveats: tourists, emmets (like you and me), unbalanced local economies, second homes, etc,&nbsp;etc.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/29/lets-move-to-boscastle-cornwall">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Boscastle, Cornwall: fine views and fishermen’s cottages

Sep 29, 2017 16:30

Forget the flood of 2004: this little town has lost none of its power to delight

What’s going for it? Some places are synonymous with unhappy events. But as time passes, the notoriety usually fades. (Who now remembers the 19th-century Penge Murders? Exactly.) Boscastle has recovered from the devastating flash flood that poured into the valley – gosh, was it really 13 years ago? No doubt the night of 16 August 2004 is still scoured on the memories of locals, who have done a remarkable job of drying themselves off and reinventing the community as a kind of green hub. But in 100 years, perhaps Boscastle will be renowned again for its remarkable beauty and peace, its lovely little fishing port and harbour, its green hills sliced by cliffs into those classic Cornish coves that so delighted Thomas Hardy. Here for his day job as an architect, restoring St Juliot church in Lesnewth, one day the writer saw A Pair Of Blue Eyes belonging to the rector’s sister-in-law. Reader, he married her.

The case against The usual Cornish caveats: tourists, emmets (like you and me), unbalanced local economies, second homes, etc, etc.

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<p>Paul McCartney came here to get away from Beatlemania, and it’s still the perfect place to escape</p><p><strong>What’s going for it? </strong>OK, let’s get <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/music/paulmccartney">Paul McCartney</a> and <a href="https://vimeo.com/65937572">That Song</a> out of the way straight off the bat. Millions of lives were tragically blighted in the 70s by Mull Of Kintyre, number one in the pop charts for about 47 years. Watching the video with wiser, middle-aged eyes, though, I appreciate it anew. Not the dirge. That still plods like a knackered horse. But the place. Look behind Paul and the bagpipers: that’s Saddell Bay, north of the Mull. Gorgeous, isn’t it? No wonder McCartney bought High Park Farm up here in the 60s to escape Beatlemania, grow a beard, learn how to milk sheep and love mud, like some kind of proto-downshifting-hipster. He doesn’t come much any more, but the Kintyre peninsula – 20 miles of heather, <a href="https://witness.theguardian.com/assignment/56fbf274e4b0597b15f4e76d/1977753">oystercatchers</a>, astonishing beaches and a fair few whisky distilleries dangling from Britain by a thread – still feels the perfect place to escape the universe. All together now, “Muuuuuuull of Kintyre…”</p><p><strong>The case against </strong>That song will roll around your head <em>for ever</em>. The Mull of Kintyre Test (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mull_of_Kintyre_test">Google it</a>). It’s a long way from anything but the Isle of Arran.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/22/lets-move-kintyre-peninsula-argyll-bute-gorgeous">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to the Kintyre peninsula, Argyll and Bute: ‘Gorgeous, isn’t it?’

Sep 22, 2017 16:29

Paul McCartney came here to get away from Beatlemania, and it’s still the perfect place to escape

What’s going for it? OK, let’s get Paul McCartney and That Song out of the way straight off the bat. Millions of lives were tragically blighted in the 70s by Mull Of Kintyre, number one in the pop charts for about 47 years. Watching the video with wiser, middle-aged eyes, though, I appreciate it anew. Not the dirge. That still plods like a knackered horse. But the place. Look behind Paul and the bagpipers: that’s Saddell Bay, north of the Mull. Gorgeous, isn’t it? No wonder McCartney bought High Park Farm up here in the 60s to escape Beatlemania, grow a beard, learn how to milk sheep and love mud, like some kind of proto-downshifting-hipster. He doesn’t come much any more, but the Kintyre peninsula – 20 miles of heather, oystercatchers, astonishing beaches and a fair few whisky distilleries dangling from Britain by a thread – still feels the perfect place to escape the universe. All together now, “Muuuuuuull of Kintyre…”

The case against That song will roll around your head for ever. The Mull of Kintyre Test (Google it). It’s a long way from anything but the Isle of Arran.

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<p>There’s much to admire… but many admirers</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> I know what you want. Pink-painted, 18th-century cottage. Living-room with beams and inglenooks. Pantiles on the roof, maybe thatch. Paddocks out back. Ooh, and can I have a&nbsp;stream, too? What you’ll probably get, though, is redbrick, 1980s semi. Garage on the side. Heritage lantern by the front door. Straight outta <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/mar/06/brookside-jump-the-shark">Brookside</a>. Bag of John Innes on the drive, waiting for the weekend. Demand for the East Anglian Dream, you see, outstrips supply. Diss can supply pink-painted cottages, for a price, dotted about the pretty old town and its hinterland; this is, after all, where the great nature writer <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2006/aug/29/guardianobituaries.environment">Roger Deakin</a> escaped to his Walnut Tree Farm, and where that other great nature writer <a href="http://richardmabey.co.uk/">Richard Mabey</a> has put down roots. But since the place became a commuter hub, it’s wrapped itself in semis and cul-de-sacs. It makes for an odd mix: the old, the new, and the newold – or oldnew – regurgitating the past as out-of-town retail opportunities, where you can pick up a&nbsp;skinny latte on the rush-hour schlep to Norwich.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> A tad humdrum; you’ll have to travel for culture and vice. Cars, cars, cars.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/08/lets-move-to-diss-norfolk">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Diss, Norfolk: a glimpse of the East Anglian Dream

Sep 8, 2017 16:30

There’s much to admire… but many admirers

What’s going for it? I know what you want. Pink-painted, 18th-century cottage. Living-room with beams and inglenooks. Pantiles on the roof, maybe thatch. Paddocks out back. Ooh, and can I have a stream, too? What you’ll probably get, though, is redbrick, 1980s semi. Garage on the side. Heritage lantern by the front door. Straight outta Brookside. Bag of John Innes on the drive, waiting for the weekend. Demand for the East Anglian Dream, you see, outstrips supply. Diss can supply pink-painted cottages, for a price, dotted about the pretty old town and its hinterland; this is, after all, where the great nature writer Roger Deakin escaped to his Walnut Tree Farm, and where that other great nature writer Richard Mabey has put down roots. But since the place became a commuter hub, it’s wrapped itself in semis and cul-de-sacs. It makes for an odd mix: the old, the new, and the newold – or oldnew – regurgitating the past as out-of-town retail opportunities, where you can pick up a skinny latte on the rush-hour schlep to Norwich.

The case against A tad humdrum; you’ll have to travel for culture and vice. Cars, cars, cars.

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<p>No, this is not Frozen’s Arendelle. But it’s an easy mistake to make</p><p><strong>W</strong><strong>hat’s going for it?</strong> Arundel or Arendelle? Sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart. Both fairytale towns, with romantic skylines, turreted castles and gothic twiddles. Both dominated by benevolent if powerful rulers: King Agnarr and Queen Iduna of the Ancient House of <a href="http://frozen.disney.co.uk/">Frozen</a>, or the Dukes of Norfolk, whose castle and Catholic cathedral loom over Arundel. There’s no escaping the Norfolks here. They have even given the town its own saint, St Philip Howard, whose Tudor bones are enshrined within the cathedral. Arundel feels like a tiny kingdom unto itself, marooned in the Sussex water meadows, supported by an export economy dominated, through its bric-a-brac shops and tea rooms, by the often overlooked antique goods and Victoria sponge sectors. All it lacks to complete the comparison are trolls, Nordic mountains, ice-shooting princesses and a deal with Disney. But I’m sure the current duke is working on that.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> Too perfect. Too little. Too quaint. Too expensive. Too aristocratic. Let it go, Tom.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/01/lets-move-to-arundel-arendelle">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Arundel, West Sussex: land of turrets and tea rooms

Sep 1, 2017 16:30

No, this is not Frozen’s Arendelle. But it’s an easy mistake to make

What’s going for it? Arundel or Arendelle? Sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart. Both fairytale towns, with romantic skylines, turreted castles and gothic twiddles. Both dominated by benevolent if powerful rulers: King Agnarr and Queen Iduna of the Ancient House of Frozen, or the Dukes of Norfolk, whose castle and Catholic cathedral loom over Arundel. There’s no escaping the Norfolks here. They have even given the town its own saint, St Philip Howard, whose Tudor bones are enshrined within the cathedral. Arundel feels like a tiny kingdom unto itself, marooned in the Sussex water meadows, supported by an export economy dominated, through its bric-a-brac shops and tea rooms, by the often overlooked antique goods and Victoria sponge sectors. All it lacks to complete the comparison are trolls, Nordic mountains, ice-shooting princesses and a deal with Disney. But I’m sure the current duke is working on that.

The case against Too perfect. Too little. Too quaint. Too expensive. Too aristocratic. Let it go, Tom.

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<p>As well as excellent art, visitors to this year’s UK City of Culture will be rewarded with beautiful streets, a huge minster and wonderful views over the Humber</p><p><strong>W</strong><strong>hat’s going for it?</strong> “It’s never dull in Hull”, says the mug I picked up at the museum. Indeed, it isn’t. But it’s time we ditched the ’ull and revelled in the polysyllabic glory of its proper name – Kiiiings-ston upon Hull. For Hull was, and is, glorious. It’s had – is having – rough times. When <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/stage/priestley">JB Priestley</a> popped by on his English Journey during the Great Depression, he marvelled at its civic culture and prosperity. Fast-forward 80 years and while the former is very much in evidence, it could do with a hefty dose of the latter. The rest of the country has deigned to pop by this year while it is <a href="https://www.hull2017.co.uk/">UK City of Culture</a>. Visitors will see its minster, its beautiful (yes, beautiful) streets and excellent art; they will pay their respects to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/philiplarkin">Philip Larkin</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/music/throbbing-gristle">Throbbing Gristle</a>; and stand on the banks of the Humber, marvelling at the views. I just hope that, come 2018, when the limelight fades, this wonderful place gets the future it deserves.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> A big city that needs investment to turn it around. The recent arrival of Siemens is a boon, but social and economic stats are troubling.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/25/lets-move-kingston-upon-hull-yorkshire-glorious">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire: ‘It’s glorious’

Aug 25, 2017 16:30

As well as excellent art, visitors to this year’s UK City of Culture will be rewarded with beautiful streets, a huge minster and wonderful views over the Humber

What’s going for it? “It’s never dull in Hull”, says the mug I picked up at the museum. Indeed, it isn’t. But it’s time we ditched the ’ull and revelled in the polysyllabic glory of its proper name – Kiiiings-ston upon Hull. For Hull was, and is, glorious. It’s had – is having – rough times. When JB Priestley popped by on his English Journey during the Great Depression, he marvelled at its civic culture and prosperity. Fast-forward 80 years and while the former is very much in evidence, it could do with a hefty dose of the latter. The rest of the country has deigned to pop by this year while it is UK City of Culture. Visitors will see its minster, its beautiful (yes, beautiful) streets and excellent art; they will pay their respects to Philip Larkin and Throbbing Gristle; and stand on the banks of the Humber, marvelling at the views. I just hope that, come 2018, when the limelight fades, this wonderful place gets the future it deserves.

The case against A big city that needs investment to turn it around. The recent arrival of Siemens is a boon, but social and economic stats are troubling.

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<p>It’s got a Norman castle, an ancient cathedral, fantastic views over the Medway – and Dickens</p><p>W<strong>hat’s going for it?</strong> Every time I go to Rochester it surprises me. I forget how ravishingly beautiful it is, the Norman castle and ancient cathedral high on a&nbsp;bluff above the Medway, curling lanes of old houses, bookshops and flint walls tumbling down the hill. The views! The long Medway valley, lined with the foothills of the North Kent Downs, is dreamy. The history! Pilgrims and scholars, naval bases and Dickens. There’s no escaping him here. Dickens spent much of his childhood in Chatham, next door, and his latter years at Gad’s Hill Place, just outside. The Swiss chalet in the garden where he wrote his novels now sits, surreally, on the High Street. Nearby, you’ll find <em>the</em> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/oct/03/digested-read-great-expectations-dickens" title="">Satis House, of Miss Havisham fame</a>, <em>the</em> Pumblechook’s chambers, and crystals and karma at <em>the</em> <a href="https://en-gb.facebook.com/LittleDorritRochester" title="">Little Dorrit new age shop</a>.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> Rochester’s economy, and that of Chatham and Gillingham, has for centuries been tethered to the navy. A substitute has yet to be found since the dockyard’s decline.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/18/lets-move-to-rochester-kent-ravishingly-beautiful">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Rochester, Kent: ‘It’s ravishingly beautiful’

Aug 18, 2017 16:30

It’s got a Norman castle, an ancient cathedral, fantastic views over the Medway – and Dickens

What’s going for it? Every time I go to Rochester it surprises me. I forget how ravishingly beautiful it is, the Norman castle and ancient cathedral high on a bluff above the Medway, curling lanes of old houses, bookshops and flint walls tumbling down the hill. The views! The long Medway valley, lined with the foothills of the North Kent Downs, is dreamy. The history! Pilgrims and scholars, naval bases and Dickens. There’s no escaping him here. Dickens spent much of his childhood in Chatham, next door, and his latter years at Gad’s Hill Place, just outside. The Swiss chalet in the garden where he wrote his novels now sits, surreally, on the High Street. Nearby, you’ll find the Satis House, of Miss Havisham fame, the Pumblechook’s chambers, and crystals and karma at the Little Dorrit new age shop.

The case against Rochester’s economy, and that of Chatham and Gillingham, has for centuries been tethered to the navy. A substitute has yet to be found since the dockyard’s decline.

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<p>The city’s had a few grim years – but things are looking up</p><p>W<strong>hat’s going for it?</strong> This city, like so many, has seen the proverbial hit the fan. When I popped by in 2011, austerity was biting. Shops were being boarded up. Big investments were collapsing. Like every other council, Preston’s was facing nasty choices. Six years on, although peace, love and prosperity do not reign on its streets, interesting things are bubbling up. The council is experimenting with co-ops, and keeping wealth and investment local. <a href="http://www.visitlancashire.com/things-to-do/avenham-and-miller-parks-p19100">Avenham Park</a> has been tidied up. Instead of being demolished for a drab shopping mall, the magnificent <a href="http://www.bdp.com/en/projects/p-z/Preston-Bus-Station">postwar bus station</a> has been protected. And PricewaterhouseCoopers last year named Preston the best city in the north-west in which to live and work. One to watch.</p><p><strong>The case against </strong>It’s going to be a long slog. Poverty and inequality still haunt the city.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/11/lets-move-to-preston-lancashire">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Preston, Lancashire: parched peas and plenty of trains

Aug 11, 2017 16:30

The city’s had a few grim years – but things are looking up

What’s going for it? This city, like so many, has seen the proverbial hit the fan. When I popped by in 2011, austerity was biting. Shops were being boarded up. Big investments were collapsing. Like every other council, Preston’s was facing nasty choices. Six years on, although peace, love and prosperity do not reign on its streets, interesting things are bubbling up. The council is experimenting with co-ops, and keeping wealth and investment local. Avenham Park has been tidied up. Instead of being demolished for a drab shopping mall, the magnificent postwar bus station has been protected. And PricewaterhouseCoopers last year named Preston the best city in the north-west in which to live and work. One to watch.

The case against It’s going to be a long slog. Poverty and inequality still haunt the city.

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<p>Sandwiched between Whitstable and Margate is the seaside that time forgot</p><p><strong>W</strong><strong>hat’s going for it?</strong> Funny how some places change by the hour – blink, and the Poundland’s been magicked into a slam-poetry cafe – while others are the still, immovable eye of the storm. I’ve been coming to Herne Bay for decades and, OK, so the bandstand has been (nicely) restored, but little else has changed. This seaside town still seems wedged in the age of <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001889/">Charles Hawtrey</a> and the three-day week. All the more surprising with just a few hundred yards on one side dividing it from <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2009/feb/14/lets-move-to-whitstable-kent">Whitstable</a>, which seems to sprout a biodynamic toddlerwear emporium every third day, and a few miles on the other keeping <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/jan/22/lets-move-to-margate-kent">Margate</a> and its slam-poetry cafes at bay. Don’t get me wrong: Herne Bay could do with a few pounds being spent in its caffs, but there’s something heartening about a place where the height of entertainment remains a round of crazy golf.</p><p><strong>The case against </strong>Occasionally melancholic. A lack of decent bars.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/04/lets-move-to-herne-bay-kent">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Herne Bay, Kent: classic caffs and crazy golf

Aug 4, 2017 16:30

Sandwiched between Whitstable and Margate is the seaside that time forgot

What’s going for it? Funny how some places change by the hour – blink, and the Poundland’s been magicked into a slam-poetry cafe – while others are the still, immovable eye of the storm. I’ve been coming to Herne Bay for decades and, OK, so the bandstand has been (nicely) restored, but little else has changed. This seaside town still seems wedged in the age of Charles Hawtrey and the three-day week. All the more surprising with just a few hundred yards on one side dividing it from Whitstable, which seems to sprout a biodynamic toddlerwear emporium every third day, and a few miles on the other keeping Margate and its slam-poetry cafes at bay. Don’t get me wrong: Herne Bay could do with a few pounds being spent in its caffs, but there’s something heartening about a place where the height of entertainment remains a round of crazy golf.

The case against Occasionally melancholic. A lack of decent bars.

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<p>It feels like London used to feel, only with decent coffee</p><p>W<strong>hat’s going for it?</strong> I like Brockley. Gentrification advances, but has yet to overwhelm the place. Duck down the odd back alley, squint and you might have slipped down a wormhole to 1978 when it was full of sociology students from Goldsmiths, bohemians and the scent of wacky baccy and rosebay willow herb. A glance in an estate agent’s window might break the spell, but the geography of hills, valleys and crisscrossing railway lines is complex enough to keep hidden wormholes to a past long disappeared in inner London, like a wee nature reserve off terraced streets, or Hilly Fields park, its stone circle glowering over London’s thrusting skyline, the glorious Rivoli Ballroom, and the shaggy mews of overgrown flora behind the town houses on Wickham Road. It feels like London used to feel, only with decent coffee. And a lovely Saturday market. The past wasn’t always so great.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> The centre has no centre, just a gigantic knot of roads and railways. Quite a few ratruns in this age of <a href="https://www.waze.com/">Waze</a>.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jul/28/lets-move-to-brockey-south-east-london">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Brockley, south-east London

July 28, 2017 16:30

It feels like London used to feel, only with decent coffee

What’s going for it? I like Brockley. Gentrification advances, but has yet to overwhelm the place. Duck down the odd back alley, squint and you might have slipped down a wormhole to 1978 when it was full of sociology students from Goldsmiths, bohemians and the scent of wacky baccy and rosebay willow herb. A glance in an estate agent’s window might break the spell, but the geography of hills, valleys and crisscrossing railway lines is complex enough to keep hidden wormholes to a past long disappeared in inner London, like a wee nature reserve off terraced streets, or Hilly Fields park, its stone circle glowering over London’s thrusting skyline, the glorious Rivoli Ballroom, and the shaggy mews of overgrown flora behind the town houses on Wickham Road. It feels like London used to feel, only with decent coffee. And a lovely Saturday market. The past wasn’t always so great.

The case against The centre has no centre, just a gigantic knot of roads and railways. Quite a few ratruns in this age of Waze.

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<p>My wife has contributed more to the deposit than me, but going forward we’ll split everything 50/50</p><p><strong>Q </strong>My wife and I have just bought our first property together. We both agree tenants in common is the way to go, but cannot work out the wording/equation for the legal document that allows for the “live” proportional representation that we believe will be fair (happy to be corrected).</p><p> My wife put £63,500 in cash towards the purchase, while I contributed £26,500. We have agreed that we will pay off the mortgage and pay for improvements and/or repairs on a 50/50 basis.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/09/how-register-property-paid-unequal-deposits-split-50-50">Continue reading...</a>

How do we register a property paid for with unequal deposits?

Oct 9, 2017 11:15

My wife has contributed more to the deposit than me, but going forward we’ll split everything 50/50

Q My wife and I have just bought our first property together. We both agree tenants in common is the way to go, but cannot work out the wording/equation for the legal document that allows for the “live” proportional representation that we believe will be fair (happy to be corrected).

My wife put £63,500 in cash towards the purchase, while I contributed £26,500. We have agreed that we will pay off the mortgage and pay for improvements and/or repairs on a 50/50 basis.

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<p>We’re worried that after we die he may be entitled to half our property</p><p><strong>Q</strong> Our daughter is the sole beneficiary in our joint will. Our entire estate is left to her and her only. However, she has a partner who is the father of our grandchildren and who, shall we say, is and never would be our choice of partner for our daughter. Unfortunately we cannot change this, it’s her choice.</p><p>What worries us for the future, after our passing, is that if he stays with her and marries her whether he would be entitled to half the value of the property if they split up? <strong>DG</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/02/can-daughters-partner-benefit-from-joint-will">Continue reading...</a>

Can our daughter's partner benefit from our joint will?

Oct 2, 2017 12:00

We’re worried that after we die he may be entitled to half our property

Q Our daughter is the sole beneficiary in our joint will. Our entire estate is left to her and her only. However, she has a partner who is the father of our grandchildren and who, shall we say, is and never would be our choice of partner for our daughter. Unfortunately we cannot change this, it’s her choice.

What worries us for the future, after our passing, is that if he stays with her and marries her whether he would be entitled to half the value of the property if they split up? DG

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<p>I have a high BMI and think I’d be turned down for cover</p><p><strong>Q</strong> I have been reading articles regarding mortgage life insurance cover. Unfortunately I have a higher-than-wanted body mass index (BMI) count, and from what I’ve read I believe I would find it hard to get insurance.</p><p>If I wanted to sell my existing property and buy a new place, but couldn’t get mortgage life insurance due to my BMI, is it compulsory to have cover to be accepted for a mortgage? Would my lender still lend to me if I earn enough to pay the mortgage? <strong>AM</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/25/is-mortgage-protection-insurance-necessary-when-buying-a-house">Continue reading...</a>

Is mortgage protection insurance necessary when buying a house?

Sep 25, 2017 15:12

I have a high BMI and think I’d be turned down for cover

Q I have been reading articles regarding mortgage life insurance cover. Unfortunately I have a higher-than-wanted body mass index (BMI) count, and from what I’ve read I believe I would find it hard to get insurance.

If I wanted to sell my existing property and buy a new place, but couldn’t get mortgage life insurance due to my BMI, is it compulsory to have cover to be accepted for a mortgage? Would my lender still lend to me if I earn enough to pay the mortgage? AM

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<p>O2 hit me for £10 owed at the end of a contract. Now I worry if I’ll be able to buy a house</p><p><strong tabindex="-1">Q</strong> My partner and I want to buy our first home. We started the process of looking into this last year, thinking that it would be relatively straightforward once we had our deposit saved.</p><p>We both have good jobs and assumed we had no debt. I then did a check of my credit file and realised O2 had slapped a default on it for £10 owed at the end of a contract. I have disputed this endlessly but it is unwilling to remove it, as it sent a text to my phone informing me of the debt – a phone which I no longer have. Anyway, I paid the debt collection company which O2 used.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/18/how-bad-is-a-credit-record-default-for-mortgage-application">Continue reading...</a>

How bad is a credit record default for a mortgage application?

Sep 18, 2017 11:18

O2 hit me for £10 owed at the end of a contract. Now I worry if I’ll be able to buy a house

Q My partner and I want to buy our first home. We started the process of looking into this last year, thinking that it would be relatively straightforward once we had our deposit saved.

We both have good jobs and assumed we had no debt. I then did a check of my credit file and realised O2 had slapped a default on it for £10 owed at the end of a contract. I have disputed this endlessly but it is unwilling to remove it, as it sent a text to my phone informing me of the debt – a phone which I no longer have. Anyway, I paid the debt collection company which O2 used.

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<p>I have savings, currently rent, but might not be in the area for more than a couple of years. Should I buy?</p><p><strong tabindex="-1">Q</strong> I live in a university town in the south-east of England. I am contracted to stay here for two years. After that I may or may not get another job in the same town, but I’m not so attached to it that I’d want to stay if there wasn’t the compelling reason of a job.</p><p>I have £280,000 invested offshore (a combination of life savings and proceeds from the sale of a flat) which is earning capital growth of £2,000 a month. I am single and paying only £400 a month in rent in cramped quarters. I could probably get something more comfortable for about £800 a month.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/11/when-right-time-to-buy-a-property">Continue reading...</a>

When is the right time to buy a property?

Sep 11, 2017 14:45

I have savings, currently rent, but might not be in the area for more than a couple of years. Should I buy?

Q I live in a university town in the south-east of England. I am contracted to stay here for two years. After that I may or may not get another job in the same town, but I’m not so attached to it that I’d want to stay if there wasn’t the compelling reason of a job.

I have £280,000 invested offshore (a combination of life savings and proceeds from the sale of a flat) which is earning capital growth of £2,000 a month. I am single and paying only £400 a month in rent in cramped quarters. I could probably get something more comfortable for about £800 a month.

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<p>I’m doing well financially while she is struggling, but there seem to be hurdles regarding close relatives</p><p><strong>Q</strong> My mum is 52 and lives on her own on a low income in the north of England. I rent and work in London and am fortunate enough to be on a fairly good income. My mum, however, is struggling, so two years ago I started covering her mortgage payments. She has approximately £90,000 equity in her home and an outstanding mortgage of £50,000. She earns only £18,000 a year.</p><p>Given that I am already covering the mortgage payments I am considering buying the house and letting her live in it rent free. The benefit being that she can then release the equity and pay off her credit cards and enjoy some of her hard-earned money.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/sep/04/can-i-buy-house-for-mum-live-rent-free-close-relatives">Continue reading...</a>

Can I buy a house for my mum to live in rent-free?

Sep 4, 2017 10:26

I’m doing well financially while she is struggling, but there seem to be hurdles regarding close relatives

Q My mum is 52 and lives on her own on a low income in the north of England. I rent and work in London and am fortunate enough to be on a fairly good income. My mum, however, is struggling, so two years ago I started covering her mortgage payments. She has approximately £90,000 equity in her home and an outstanding mortgage of £50,000. She earns only £18,000 a year.

Given that I am already covering the mortgage payments I am considering buying the house and letting her live in it rent free. The benefit being that she can then release the equity and pay off her credit cards and enjoy some of her hard-earned money.

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<p>I’ve offered my daughter a loan but she thinks the government scheme will be a better bet</p><p><br><strong tabindex="-1">Q</strong> My daughter is a first-time buyer and wants to use the government’s help-to-buy scheme even though I have offered to give her £50,000 as a deposit on a £200,000 house. She thinks rates are better with help to buy. Is this true? <strong tabindex="-1">MS</strong></p><p><strong>A</strong> No – quite the reverse judging by the mortgage lenders I’ve looked at.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/29/does-help-to-buy-scheme-offer-best-rates">Continue reading...</a>

Does the help-to-buy scheme really offer the best rates?

Aug 29, 2017 14:26

I’ve offered my daughter a loan but she thinks the government scheme will be a better bet


Q My daughter is a first-time buyer and wants to use the government’s help-to-buy scheme even though I have offered to give her £50,000 as a deposit on a £200,000 house. She thinks rates are better with help to buy. Is this true? MS

A No – quite the reverse judging by the mortgage lenders I’ve looked at.

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<p>My partner has a child from a previous relationship and I worry it will affect future thinking</p><p><strong>Q</strong> My partner and I (we are in a same-sex relationship of four years but no civil partnership) are buying a house for £377,500 as joint tenants. </p><p>We have a baby together and will shortly be trying for another child. My concern is that she has an adult son who is likely to have financial difficulties in the future. I worry that if I die before her, she may feel obliged to leave a large share of the property to him, whereas I would prefer all of my share to go to our children together. Should we be tenants in common? <strong>EC</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/21/should-we-buy-as-joint-tenants-or-tenants-in-common">Continue reading...</a>

Should we buy as joint tenants or tenants in common?

Aug 21, 2017 14:30

My partner has a child from a previous relationship and I worry it will affect future thinking

Q My partner and I (we are in a same-sex relationship of four years but no civil partnership) are buying a house for £377,500 as joint tenants.

We have a baby together and will shortly be trying for another child. My concern is that she has an adult son who is likely to have financial difficulties in the future. I worry that if I die before her, she may feel obliged to leave a large share of the property to him, whereas I would prefer all of my share to go to our children together. Should we be tenants in common? EC

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<p>I want to move out of the marital home and this flat would be the only property in my name<br></p><p><strong>Q</strong> My husband owns the house we live in. Things are strained between us and I have decided to buy a flat so I can move out. My solicitor mentioned that I would have to pay the 3% surcharge on stamp duty. I can cover this at the moment and I really want to buy the flat on which I have put down an offer.</p><p>However, I am unsure whether I can claim this stamp duty back if we separate because this would be the only property in my name. The stamp duty is substantially more – in the region of £12,000. If you could shed some light on claiming stamp duty back in case of a divorce or separation I would greatly appreciate it. <strong>PF</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/14/buying-flat-separating-higher-stamp-duty-refund">Continue reading...</a>

I'm buying a flat as I'm separating – can I reclaim the higher stamp duty?

Aug 14, 2017 7:00

I want to move out of the marital home and this flat would be the only property in my name

Q My husband owns the house we live in. Things are strained between us and I have decided to buy a flat so I can move out. My solicitor mentioned that I would have to pay the 3% surcharge on stamp duty. I can cover this at the moment and I really want to buy the flat on which I have put down an offer.

However, I am unsure whether I can claim this stamp duty back if we separate because this would be the only property in my name. The stamp duty is substantially more – in the region of £12,000. If you could shed some light on claiming stamp duty back in case of a divorce or separation I would greatly appreciate it. PF

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You can navigate your way through what can be a long and complex process by following these steps<p>Buying a home can be a long and complex process, but typically it involves going through these steps:</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/24/factsheet-buying-home-property">Continue reading...</a>

Factsheet: Buying a home

Nov 24, 2014 14:10

You can navigate your way through what can be a long and complex process by following these steps

Buying a home can be a long and complex process, but typically it involves going through these steps:

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'How to' guides for a wide variety of personal finance issues including: claiming benefits, taking out a loan, interest rates, buying a house, insurance, pensions, savings and tax<p><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2007/oct/25/state.pensions">State pensions</a><br><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/sep/11/taxcredits.familyfinance">Tax credits</a></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/nov/20/money-factsheets-benefits-loans-interest-rates-buying-house-insurance-pensions-savings">Continue reading...</a>

Money factsheets: How to organise your finances

Nov 20, 2013 12:35

'How to' guides for a wide variety of personal finance issues including: claiming benefits, taking out a loan, interest rates, buying a house, insurance, pensions, savings and tax

State pensions
Tax credits

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<p>You can go round in circles trying to find the perfect house ...</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/oct/11/a-life-in-the-round-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

A life in the round – in pictures

Oct 11, 2017 7:00

You can go round in circles trying to find the perfect house ...

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<p>Lace up your boots, slip in your shin pads and grab a ball … living in one of these places could inspire you</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/oct/04/properties-near-football-stadiums-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Properties near football stadiums – in pictures

Oct 4, 2017 6:00

Lace up your boots, slip in your shin pads and grab a ball … living in one of these places could inspire you

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<p>Ever fancied being a landowner? You get 32 acres for your £1.4m … and much more</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/oct/03/otterburn-castle-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Otterburn Castle – in pictures

Oct 3, 2017 6:00

Ever fancied being a landowner? You get 32 acres for your £1.4m … and much more

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<p>Anyone fancy some cider with three men on Watership Down? </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/sep/27/settings-that-inspired-literary-classics-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Settings that inspired literary classics – in pictures

Sep 27, 2017 7:00

Anyone fancy some cider with three men on Watership Down?

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<p>A Grade II-listed former ferryman’s cottage could be yours for just £15,000</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/sep/26/a-piece-of-history-in-menai-bridge-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

A piece of history in Menai Bridge – in pictures

Sep 26, 2017 6:00

A Grade II-listed former ferryman’s cottage could be yours for just £15,000

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<p>This brick and timber kit house in a village in Winchester was donated after the second world war, and is still going strong</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/sep/20/donated-swedes-coles-mede-brick-and-timber-kit-house-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Donated by Swedes to Coles Mede – in pictures

Sep 20, 2017 7:00

This brick and timber kit house in a village in Winchester was donated after the second world war, and is still going strong

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<p>All these homes are bordering on magnificent as well as other countries</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/sep/20/homes-near-national-borders-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Homes near national borders – in pictures

Sep 20, 2017 7:00

All these homes are bordering on magnificent as well as other countries

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<p>With halo lights, vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, there’s a spiritual life awaiting you in Essex</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/sep/13/heavenly-living-in-a-former-church-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Heavenly living in a former church – in pictures

Sep 13, 2017 7:00

With halo lights, vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, there’s a spiritual life awaiting you in Essex

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<p>Drink in the surroundings, in more ways than one, from Sussex and Abruzzo to Aquitane</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2017/sep/12/houses-near-vineyards-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Houses near vineyards – in pictures

Sep 12, 2017 12:15

Drink in the surroundings, in more ways than one, from Sussex and Abruzzo to Aquitane

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<p>Plant it now and this gorgeous South American should bloom around Christmas</p><p>I know as someone who writes about gardening that I am meant to wax lyrical about how I embrace the wonder of each changing season. But to me, as a kid who grew up in the tropics, the long slide into the darkness of winter isn’t any fun. Plant growth slows down, or stops altogether, meaning it is far harder for us plant geeks to get our horticultural fix. Fortunately, there is one plant out there you can get growing right now that will reach peak perfection in the coldest, shortest days of December – hippeastrum.</p><p>Unlike many traditional Christmas plants hippeastrums will come back season after season</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/15/hippeastrum-a-light-in-winter-darkness">Continue reading...</a>

Hippeastrum, a light in winter darkness

Oct 15, 2017 6:00

Plant it now and this gorgeous South American should bloom around Christmas

I know as someone who writes about gardening that I am meant to wax lyrical about how I embrace the wonder of each changing season. But to me, as a kid who grew up in the tropics, the long slide into the darkness of winter isn’t any fun. Plant growth slows down, or stops altogether, meaning it is far harder for us plant geeks to get our horticultural fix. Fortunately, there is one plant out there you can get growing right now that will reach peak perfection in the coldest, shortest days of December – hippeastrum.

Unlike many traditional Christmas plants hippeastrums will come back season after season

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<p>Opened four decades ago, Parnham College in Dorset founded by John Makepeace, quietly transformed British design</p><p>It started with a table: a low, glass-topped timber square designed to be easily dismantled and folded into a crate (see picture below). Sold through Heal’s in the early 1960s for the princely sum of £6, it was furniture designer <a href="http://www.johnmakepeacefurniture.com/">John Makepeace</a>’s first big success. It also marked the beginning of a career that would see him evolve from a maker of mass-market hits and large-scale institutional commissions to beautifully crafted one-offs.</p><p>In Denmark for a holiday, I started to see what contemporary designers were doing. And that was that, really</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/15/seats-of-learning-john-makepeace-furniture-school-in-dorset">Continue reading...</a>

The father of British furniture on 40 years of Parnham College

Oct 15, 2017 6:00

Opened four decades ago, Parnham College in Dorset founded by John Makepeace, quietly transformed British design

It started with a table: a low, glass-topped timber square designed to be easily dismantled and folded into a crate (see picture below). Sold through Heal’s in the early 1960s for the princely sum of £6, it was furniture designer John Makepeace’s first big success. It also marked the beginning of a career that would see him evolve from a maker of mass-market hits and large-scale institutional commissions to beautifully crafted one-offs.

In Denmark for a holiday, I started to see what contemporary designers were doing. And that was that, really

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<p>Pay attention to those you planted earlier in the year, particularly if you want to brandish your own brussels on Christmas Day</p><p>If I have a true love, it must be the genus, brassica. I didn’t expect to fall so hard. It’s hardly a glamorous one: its members are wide and varied, and often pungent – think of the sulphurous tang of boiled cabbage or the whiff of fermented sauerkraut. But I find that when I look upon a&nbsp;brassica I see the most beautiful of vegetables. I&nbsp;love how they look nestled among the flowers of my garden; I regularly make vases of kales, and marvel at the packed interiors of cabbages.</p><p>The wild cabbage, <em>Brassica oleracea</em>, is a diffuse and polymorphic species, which is another way of saying it is good at self-love. A long time ago we took one wild and wayward species, and selected and selected and selected until a wildling became a kale, became a cabbage, became broccoli or cauliflower or a brussels sprout. For brassica nerds, there are eight major cultivar groups.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/14/how-to-grow-great-brassicas-brussels-sprouts-cabbages">Continue reading...</a>

How to grow great brassicas – from brussels sprouts to cabbages

Oct 14, 2017 11:00

Pay attention to those you planted earlier in the year, particularly if you want to brandish your own brussels on Christmas Day

If I have a true love, it must be the genus, brassica. I didn’t expect to fall so hard. It’s hardly a glamorous one: its members are wide and varied, and often pungent – think of the sulphurous tang of boiled cabbage or the whiff of fermented sauerkraut. But I find that when I look upon a brassica I see the most beautiful of vegetables. I love how they look nestled among the flowers of my garden; I regularly make vases of kales, and marvel at the packed interiors of cabbages.

The wild cabbage, Brassica oleracea, is a diffuse and polymorphic species, which is another way of saying it is good at self-love. A long time ago we took one wild and wayward species, and selected and selected and selected until a wildling became a kale, became a cabbage, became broccoli or cauliflower or a brussels sprout. For brassica nerds, there are eight major cultivar groups.

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<p>The film-maker’s English garden reflects his cinematic eye – a fantasy of bell towers, cannons and galleons</p><p>Like his films, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/film/terry-gilliam">Terry Gilliam</a>’s garden is a mixture of the prosaic and the phantasmagorical. For a start, there’s the church spire. “We were having a new kitchen done and one of the builders said to me that a mate of his was salvaging a bell tower in Guildford, and did I want it?” Gilliam says. “It’s 17th century, the same age as the house. So they brought it up here and we put it in the garden.”</p><p>Then there’s the immense yew topiary in the shape of a galleon, inspired by the poster for his 1981 film <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVD_D7gugWI">Time Bandits</a>; and two cannons from the set of The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/14/terry-gilliam-garden">Continue reading...</a>

The director’s cuttings: a tour of Terry Gilliam’s garden

Oct 14, 2017 11:00

The film-maker’s English garden reflects his cinematic eye – a fantasy of bell towers, cannons and galleons

Like his films, Terry Gilliam’s garden is a mixture of the prosaic and the phantasmagorical. For a start, there’s the church spire. “We were having a new kitchen done and one of the builders said to me that a mate of his was salvaging a bell tower in Guildford, and did I want it?” Gilliam says. “It’s 17th century, the same age as the house. So they brought it up here and we put it in the garden.”

Then there’s the immense yew topiary in the shape of a galleon, inspired by the poster for his 1981 film Time Bandits; and two cannons from the set of The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen.

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<p>Plant colchicums, split geraniums, visit an outdoor sculpture show</p><p>Colchicums are a curious bunch of autumn-flowering bulbs with the name “naked ladies”, due to their habit of flowering before their leaves break the soil’s surface. They make a pleasing display in late summer and early autumn, either in a pot or naturalised in grass under a&nbsp;deciduous tree. Try the splendidly OTT double pink <a href="https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/89869/Colchicum-Waterlily-(d)/Details" title="">Colchicum ‘Waterlily’</a>, lilac and white <em>C</em>. <a href="http://www.gardenersworld.com/plants/plant-finder/colchicum-lilac-wonder/" title="">‘Lilac Wonder’</a>, pink <a href="https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/4190/Colchicum-autumnale/Details" title=""><em>C</em>. <em>autumnale</em></a>, or pure white <a href="https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/92234/Colchicum-speciosum-Album/Details" title=""><em>C</em>. <em>speciosum</em> ‘Album’</a>.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/14/gardens-what-to-do-this-week-colchicums-geraniums-sculpture">Continue reading...</a>

Gardens: what to do this week

Oct 14, 2017 11:00

Plant colchicums, split geraniums, visit an outdoor sculpture show

Colchicums are a curious bunch of autumn-flowering bulbs with the name “naked ladies”, due to their habit of flowering before their leaves break the soil’s surface. They make a pleasing display in late summer and early autumn, either in a pot or naturalised in grass under a deciduous tree. Try the splendidly OTT double pink Colchicum ‘Waterlily’, lilac and white C. ‘Lilac Wonder’, pink C. autumnale, or pure white C. speciosum ‘Album’.

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<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/picture/2017/oct/14/berger-wyse-on-repairmen-cartoon">Continue reading...</a>

Berger & Wyse on repairmen – cartoon

Oct 14, 2017 6:00

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<p>The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific concepts</p><p>This year we have had a big problem with jackdaws spoiling our apples: they have taken a peck from so much of our fruit that it has ruined a good crop of russets. We never used to have jackdaws round here, but they moved in a few years ago and are now a serious pest – they rival the magpies. Does anyone know why jackdaws arrived here, or if there’s anything we can do to prevent them ruining our apples in the future?</p><p><em>Jill Bennett, St Albans, Herts</em></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/11/how-stop-jackdaws-ruin-russets">Continue reading...</a>

How can we stop jackdaws ruining our russet crop | Notes and queries

Oct 11, 2017 11:30

The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific concepts

This year we have had a big problem with jackdaws spoiling our apples: they have taken a peck from so much of our fruit that it has ruined a good crop of russets. We never used to have jackdaws round here, but they moved in a few years ago and are now a serious pest – they rival the magpies. Does anyone know why jackdaws arrived here, or if there’s anything we can do to prevent them ruining our apples in the future?

Jill Bennett, St Albans, Herts

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<p>Forget the hipster bottle gardens of Instagram; follow the Victorians’ advice and your terrarium will thrive</p><p>You know things are bad when you recognise the trends all the cool kids are doing from the last time round. Back in the 1980s I pored over Dr DG Hessayon’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2017/mar/02/from-bookworms-to-earthworms-my-top-five-gardening-books"><em>The House Plant Expert</em></a>. It was my childhood bible. Out of all his projects, the bottle garden was the one that captured my imagination the most: a little enclosed world of virtually self-sustaining plants, even containing its own micro-weather system. Indeed, the very word “terrarium” comes from the Latin for “enclosed earth”. Amazing!</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/08/how-to-treat-your-terrarium">Continue reading...</a>

How to treat your terrarium | James Wong

Oct 8, 2017 6:00

Forget the hipster bottle gardens of Instagram; follow the Victorians’ advice and your terrarium will thrive

You know things are bad when you recognise the trends all the cool kids are doing from the last time round. Back in the 1980s I pored over Dr DG Hessayon’s The House Plant Expert. It was my childhood bible. Out of all his projects, the bottle garden was the one that captured my imagination the most: a little enclosed world of virtually self-sustaining plants, even containing its own micro-weather system. Indeed, the very word “terrarium” comes from the Latin for “enclosed earth”. Amazing!

Continue reading...

<p>Thirty years ago Ikea opened its first store in the UK. It’s had a huge impact on our homes – and us, says Nell Frizzell</p><p>I have measured out my life in coffee spoons and mattresses, bath mats and bookcases, cushions and double duvets. These touchstones of my life may seem sporadic – the cooking pot I went off to university with, the first towel I bought (rather than stole from my mother), the rucksack I wore during my pregnancy, the changing table that will, I hope, one day serve as my child’s desk – but they all unite under a single Swedish philosophy: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”</p><p>I didn’t know about this philosophy until I stood, bathed in the gentle air of meatballs, in the foyer of the Ikea Museum in Älmhult, Småland and read it off a giant white wall beside a portrait of the Ikea founder, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/mar/10/ikea-billionaire-ingvar-kamprad-buys-his-clothes-at-second-hand-stalls">Ingvar Kamprad</a>. The museum, which opened in 2016 on the site of Ikea’s first ever store, tells the story not only of Swedish life via its common household objects (not to mention the more arresting ones such as “bog ore” and “sausage horn”), but gives a glimpse into the life of Kamprad, his staff, those early furniture experiments (denim divan, anyone?) and the unlikely rise to global proportions of this small, backwood business.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/08/flat-pack-to-the-future-how-ikea-shaped-our-lives">Continue reading...</a>

Flat pack to the future: how Ikea shaped our lives | Nell Frizzell

Oct 8, 2017 6:00

Thirty years ago Ikea opened its first store in the UK. It’s had a huge impact on our homes – and us, says Nell Frizzell

I have measured out my life in coffee spoons and mattresses, bath mats and bookcases, cushions and double duvets. These touchstones of my life may seem sporadic – the cooking pot I went off to university with, the first towel I bought (rather than stole from my mother), the rucksack I wore during my pregnancy, the changing table that will, I hope, one day serve as my child’s desk – but they all unite under a single Swedish philosophy: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”

I didn’t know about this philosophy until I stood, bathed in the gentle air of meatballs, in the foyer of the Ikea Museum in Älmhult, Småland and read it off a giant white wall beside a portrait of the Ikea founder, Ingvar Kamprad. The museum, which opened in 2016 on the site of Ikea’s first ever store, tells the story not only of Swedish life via its common household objects (not to mention the more arresting ones such as “bog ore” and “sausage horn”), but gives a glimpse into the life of Kamprad, his staff, those early furniture experiments (denim divan, anyone?) and the unlikely rise to global proportions of this small, backwood business.

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<p>Hi-tech features concealed throughout this 50s seaside house in East Sussex make it highly energy efficient – and make life easier for its owners</p><p>Picture a tech-savvy home and you will probably envisage a slick, white cube where the blinds whirr up at a preset hour and sensors turn on the shower. But a smart home doesn’t have to be robotic and flashy. “We wanted to use technology to make life easier,” says Gigi Sutherland of the home she and her partner, Matt Sellers, redesigned in East Sussex. With walls clad in basic building materials, the mood here is far from futuristic. The rough and ready aesthetic has hidden depths, though, from concealed speakers and motion sensors to app-controlled energy and security systems.</p><p>The house dates from the 1950s and, while the building itself is not so special, it backs on to Camber Sands. “It was just a set of boxy rooms and two garages,” says Sutherland, a stylist. “We wanted to join up the spaces and integrate the garages into the house.” The pair rebuilt the interior from scratch. Walls are made from OSB, a type of chipboard, and plaster-like dark grey Artex. “It creates a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/may/01/essaouira-morocco-bed-and-breakfast">tadelakt-style</a> finish with a nice chalky texture,” says Sutherland. The flooring is grey poured concrete.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/07/smart-home-wears-technology-lightly">Continue reading...</a>

What lies beneath: the smart home that wears its technology lightly

Oct 7, 2017 11:00

Hi-tech features concealed throughout this 50s seaside house in East Sussex make it highly energy efficient – and make life easier for its owners

Picture a tech-savvy home and you will probably envisage a slick, white cube where the blinds whirr up at a preset hour and sensors turn on the shower. But a smart home doesn’t have to be robotic and flashy. “We wanted to use technology to make life easier,” says Gigi Sutherland of the home she and her partner, Matt Sellers, redesigned in East Sussex. With walls clad in basic building materials, the mood here is far from futuristic. The rough and ready aesthetic has hidden depths, though, from concealed speakers and motion sensors to app-controlled energy and security systems.

The house dates from the 1950s and, while the building itself is not so special, it backs on to Camber Sands. “It was just a set of boxy rooms and two garages,” says Sutherland, a stylist. “We wanted to join up the spaces and integrate the garages into the house.” The pair rebuilt the interior from scratch. Walls are made from OSB, a type of chipboard, and plaster-like dark grey Artex. “It creates a tadelakt-style finish with a nice chalky texture,” says Sutherland. The flooring is grey poured concrete.

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<p>Nearly half of us would retire for a million in cash, a poll has discovered. We asked members of the public to name their price </p><p>According to a poll, 45% of working Brits would retire immediately in return for the lump sum of £1m or less. For £2m, more than half (53%) of the public could be persuaded to put their feet up for good, while £10m would see two-thirds (66%) quit their day job on the spot. However, 12% of employed Brits said that no amount of money could convince them to walk away from the world of work.</p><p>But is £1m really enough? We asked workers how much they would need to be offered to say goodbye to the paycheck and hello to freedom.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2017/oct/17/the-big-money-question-would-you-quit-work-for-1m">Continue reading...</a>

The big money question: would you quit work for £1m?

Oct 17, 2017 18:14

Nearly half of us would retire for a million in cash, a poll has discovered. We asked members of the public to name their price

According to a poll, 45% of working Brits would retire immediately in return for the lump sum of £1m or less. For £2m, more than half (53%) of the public could be persuaded to put their feet up for good, while £10m would see two-thirds (66%) quit their day job on the spot. However, 12% of employed Brits said that no amount of money could convince them to walk away from the world of work.

But is £1m really enough? We asked workers how much they would need to be offered to say goodbye to the paycheck and hello to freedom.

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<p>You will still be able to spend old round pounds after the deadline. Here’s where …</p><ul><li><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/16/are-you-still-using-the-old-pound-coin-share-your-stories-and-pictures">Are you still using the old pound coin? Share your stories and pictures </a></li></ul><p>British households have got rid of £60m-worth of the old “round pound” coins over the past week – but there are still more than £400m-worth still in circulation – and down the backs of sofas – with just this weekend to spend them.</p><p>From midnight on Sunday the round pound will no longer be legal tender. Many retailers have made it clear they won’t take them anymore, including Sainsbury’s, M&amp;S and Lidl. But there’s no need to panic as Tesco, Aldi, Iceland and Poundland, plus lots of small retailers, say they will continue accepting them for a short period, while the big banks will let you deposit them into an account for months yet.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/14/old-1-pound-coins-where-spend-them">Continue reading...</a>

Old £1 coins: don’t get short-changed after Sunday’s switchover

Oct 15, 2017 10:32

You will still be able to spend old round pounds after the deadline. Here’s where …

British households have got rid of £60m-worth of the old “round pound” coins over the past week – but there are still more than £400m-worth still in circulation – and down the backs of sofas – with just this weekend to spend them.

From midnight on Sunday the round pound will no longer be legal tender. Many retailers have made it clear they won’t take them anymore, including Sainsbury’s, M&S and Lidl. But there’s no need to panic as Tesco, Aldi, Iceland and Poundland, plus lots of small retailers, say they will continue accepting them for a short period, while the big banks will let you deposit them into an account for months yet.

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I’ve never owned a mobile but Virgin began taking direct debits from my bank account and then sent debt collectors around<p><strong>Can you please help me to get Virgin Media to call off the debt collectors for a mobile phone contract that is nothing to do with me?</strong></p><p><strong>I have never owned a mobile, but in June I noticed the company had taken two £13 payments by direct debit. I contacted the bank to cancel the direct debit, and staff confirmed that I had been refunded the money. They advised me that it was probably a clerical error and nothing to worry about. But in August I received a threatening letter from debt collectors demanding £39 outstanding from Virgin Mobile.</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/17/virgin-media-mobile-bill-debt-collectors">Continue reading...</a>

Virgin Media is chasing me for over outstanding bill for a phone I never owned

Oct 17, 2017 7:00

I’ve never owned a mobile but Virgin began taking direct debits from my bank account and then sent debt collectors around

Can you please help me to get Virgin Media to call off the debt collectors for a mobile phone contract that is nothing to do with me?

I have never owned a mobile, but in June I noticed the company had taken two £13 payments by direct debit. I contacted the bank to cancel the direct debit, and staff confirmed that I had been refunded the money. They advised me that it was probably a clerical error and nothing to worry about. But in August I received a threatening letter from debt collectors demanding £39 outstanding from Virgin Mobile.

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Survey of 10 developed European countries puts UK at bottom of the pile due to high costs of living, while France takes top spot<p>The UK has been named the worst place to live in Europe for quality of life, behind countries with damaged economies such as Ireland and Italy, according to the latest <a href="http://www.uswitch.com/" title="uSwitch website">uSwitch</a> quality of life index.</p><p>The UK emerged as having the second lowest hours of sunshine a year, the fourth highest retirement age, and the third lowest spend on health as a percentage of GDP.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/sep/29/uk-worst-quality-of-life-europe">Continue reading...</a>

UK has 'worst quality of life in Europe'

Sep 29, 2011 6:14

Survey of 10 developed European countries puts UK at bottom of the pile due to high costs of living, while France takes top spot

The UK has been named the worst place to live in Europe for quality of life, behind countries with damaged economies such as Ireland and Italy, according to the latest uSwitch quality of life index.

The UK emerged as having the second lowest hours of sunshine a year, the fourth highest retirement age, and the third lowest spend on health as a percentage of GDP.

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I purchased a Sophie Hulme handbag at a sample sale but when it turned out to have a broken strap they refused to put it right<p><strong>I recently went to a designer sample sale and brought a lovely Sophie Hulme handbag for £200. As the till said no exchanges or refunds I thoroughly checked the bag for scratches or faults before I bought it. The next day the metal attachment on the strap broke and the bag is now unusable. After careful inspection, it seemed there was a whole piece in the metal attachment missing that would have been impossible to spot when purchased. </strong></p><p><strong>I emailed Sophie Hulme and it has refused even to provide a replacement for the metal attachment and has now stopped answering my emails. I understand the no refunds or exchanges policy, but I feel like my consumer rights have been ignored in this instance. Can you offer any advice? </strong><em>RL,</em><strong> </strong><em>London</em></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/16/faulty-sophie-hulme-designer-handbag-broken">Continue reading...</a>

I’ve been left £200 out of pocket after buying a faulty designer handbag

Oct 16, 2017 7:00

I purchased a Sophie Hulme handbag at a sample sale but when it turned out to have a broken strap they refused to put it right

I recently went to a designer sample sale and brought a lovely Sophie Hulme handbag for £200. As the till said no exchanges or refunds I thoroughly checked the bag for scratches or faults before I bought it. The next day the metal attachment on the strap broke and the bag is now unusable. After careful inspection, it seemed there was a whole piece in the metal attachment missing that would have been impossible to spot when purchased.

I emailed Sophie Hulme and it has refused even to provide a replacement for the metal attachment and has now stopped answering my emails. I understand the no refunds or exchanges policy, but I feel like my consumer rights have been ignored in this instance. Can you offer any advice? RL, London

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<p>The ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings lists the UK’s highest salaried careers. If you fancy one of the Top 10 jobs, we have tips on how to do it<br></p><p>Have you got one of the best paid jobs in the UK? <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/oct/26/weekly-uk-earnings-rose-2015-biggest-increase-since-financial-crash">The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2016</a>, and we’ve looked at the top 10 highest paid jobs in the country and what you need to do to get one of them. </p><p>To obtain the data, the ONS surveyed a random sample of 1% of all the workers who carry out each occupation, using 2015/2016 pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax records. </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/oct/31/highest-paid-jobs-2016-ons-annual-survey-hours-earnings">Continue reading...</a>

What are the highest paid jobs of 2016 in the UK?

Oct 31, 2016 14:10

The ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings lists the UK’s highest salaried careers. If you fancy one of the Top 10 jobs, we have tips on how to do it

Have you got one of the best paid jobs in the UK? The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released its Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2016, and we’ve looked at the top 10 highest paid jobs in the country and what you need to do to get one of them.

To obtain the data, the ONS surveyed a random sample of 1% of all the workers who carry out each occupation, using 2015/2016 pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax records.

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<p>I’m in the vanguard of gender-evolutionary change, and backing her all the way – so why do I feel like a failure?</p><p>My wife and I are on conference call with our accountant, Ronnie. Ronnie works from a home office on 57th Street, looks a little like <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/oct/03/curb-your-enthusiasm-review-if-it-aint-woke-dont-fix-it">Larry David</a> and has the kind of brusque New Yorker manners that border on the brutal.</p><p>“Kate,” he says, his voice tinny on speakerphone, “it looks like you’ve had another great year. And those pensions are really starting to look good.”</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/14/money-and-marriage-wife-earns-100-times-more-than-me-tom-shone">Continue reading...</a>

Money and marriage: ‘Last year my wife earned 100 times more than me’

Oct 14, 2017 9:00

I’m in the vanguard of gender-evolutionary change, and backing her all the way – so why do I feel like a failure?

My wife and I are on conference call with our accountant, Ronnie. Ronnie works from a home office on 57th Street, looks a little like Larry David and has the kind of brusque New Yorker manners that border on the brutal.

“Kate,” he says, his voice tinny on speakerphone, “it looks like you’ve had another great year. And those pensions are really starting to look good.”

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<p>A secretive network of ‘bank busters’ have made it their mission to help shut down accounts used by internet fraudsters</p><p>Like thousands of other truck drivers, the first thing Alan Davies reaches for when he is on a break is his mobile. But unlike his colleagues he’s less interested in the football scores or chatting on Facebook. Instead he is posing as a gullible buyer on eBay with one intention – getting scammers to hand over their bank details, accounts that his group will subsequently ask the banks to shut down.</p><p>Davies – not his real name – is one of a growing band of guardian angels who spend their spare time engaging with the mostly east European gangs that are trying to scam unsuspecting UK consumers on an almost industrial scale.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/14/ebay-vigilantes-outconning-the-con-men-bank-accounts">Continue reading...</a>

Buster Jack: the eBay vigilantes who are outconning the con men

Oct 14, 2017 7:00

A secretive network of ‘bank busters’ have made it their mission to help shut down accounts used by internet fraudsters

Like thousands of other truck drivers, the first thing Alan Davies reaches for when he is on a break is his mobile. But unlike his colleagues he’s less interested in the football scores or chatting on Facebook. Instead he is posing as a gullible buyer on eBay with one intention – getting scammers to hand over their bank details, accounts that his group will subsequently ask the banks to shut down.

Davies – not his real name – is one of a growing band of guardian angels who spend their spare time engaging with the mostly east European gangs that are trying to scam unsuspecting UK consumers on an almost industrial scale.

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Hammersmith &amp; Fulham sent bailiffs to the wrong address, who threatened to take my car over a fine I knew nothing about<p><strong>In April of this year we were on a month-long trip to Australia and had a friend staying in our flat. One morning we got a distressed call from her to say bailiffs had put a seizure notice through our door demanding £513 on behalf of Hammersmith &amp; Fulham council. They were threatening to tow away our car if we did not pay up, which we did. </strong></p><p><strong>Once back home I called the council, which said we’d stopped in a yellow box junction. However, we hadn’t received any correspondence about it. I asked the parking officer what address they’d sent the notices to, and he said they had gone to number 285a in our road, when we live at 258a. They had also used an incorrect postcode. Council staff agreed that there had been a mistake but wouldn’t refund the money.</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/15/hammersmith-fulham-council-bailiffs-threatened-fine">Continue reading...</a>

I’m locked in a dispute with a confused council and bumbling bailiffs

Oct 15, 2017 7:00

Hammersmith & Fulham sent bailiffs to the wrong address, who threatened to take my car over a fine I knew nothing about

In April of this year we were on a month-long trip to Australia and had a friend staying in our flat. One morning we got a distressed call from her to say bailiffs had put a seizure notice through our door demanding £513 on behalf of Hammersmith & Fulham council. They were threatening to tow away our car if we did not pay up, which we did.

Once back home I called the council, which said we’d stopped in a yellow box junction. However, we hadn’t received any correspondence about it. I asked the parking officer what address they’d sent the notices to, and he said they had gone to number 285a in our road, when we live at 258a. They had also used an incorrect postcode. Council staff agreed that there had been a mistake but wouldn’t refund the money.

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A bit of careful planning and a lot of hard work can result in a great life experience that bolsters your CV and pays its own way<p>Taking a gap year either side of university may be the adventure of a lifetime, but you don’t want it to plunge you into a lifetime of debt. With a bit of hard work and careful planning you gain a great experience that will shore up your CV while paying your own way – or at least part of it.</p><p>The average gap year costs about £5,000, according to research from Charter Savings Bank, which also found that one in three “gappers” plan to raise the necessary funds by working&nbsp;while they are away. Europe is the top destination, attracting 48% of travellers under 25, with 17% going to Australia and New Zealand.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/15/gap-year-guide-see-world-not-debt-life-experience-pay-own-way">Continue reading...</a>

Gap year guide: how to see the world and not end up in debt

Oct 15, 2017 7:00

A bit of careful planning and a lot of hard work can result in a great life experience that bolsters your CV and pays its own way

Taking a gap year either side of university may be the adventure of a lifetime, but you don’t want it to plunge you into a lifetime of debt. With a bit of hard work and careful planning you gain a great experience that will shore up your CV while paying your own way – or at least part of it.

The average gap year costs about £5,000, according to research from Charter Savings Bank, which also found that one in three “gappers” plan to raise the necessary funds by working while they are away. Europe is the top destination, attracting 48% of travellers under 25, with 17% going to Australia and New Zealand.

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<p>Researchers say we need to ‘retrain’ for retirement in order to be ready for life after work. Here are few other ways in which those in their 50s might look to prepare</p><p>The University of Alicante has just issued a <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160926100011.htm">report</a> saying that people over 50 must be prepared for retirement and – since we’re all living longer and staying healthier, too – we must look to retrain, keep learning and look towards what it optimistically describes as a “dynamic third age”.</p><p>I know no one between 50 and 70 years old who, having retired, is not full of beans. “I’ve never been so happy!” is the usual cry. “I’ve never been so busy!” In my experience, most people feel released after retirement, like a cork out of a restraining bottle, with bucket lists as long as your arm and a fiendish determination to hang on in there, get down with the yoga classes, travel the world and take up hobby after hobby, from investigating one’s ancestry to joining a choir. Who needs to prepare for it when there are grandchildren to look after, groups to join, degrees to take and book clubs to start?</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2016/sep/28/freedom-pass-hair-dye-volunteering-how-to-retire-in-style">Continue reading...</a>

How to ‘train’ for retirement: seven tips from a retiree

Sep 28, 2016 16:28

Researchers say we need to ‘retrain’ for retirement in order to be ready for life after work. Here are few other ways in which those in their 50s might look to prepare

The University of Alicante has just issued a report saying that people over 50 must be prepared for retirement and – since we’re all living longer and staying healthier, too – we must look to retrain, keep learning and look towards what it optimistically describes as a “dynamic third age”.

I know no one between 50 and 70 years old who, having retired, is not full of beans. “I’ve never been so happy!” is the usual cry. “I’ve never been so busy!” In my experience, most people feel released after retirement, like a cork out of a restraining bottle, with bucket lists as long as your arm and a fiendish determination to hang on in there, get down with the yoga classes, travel the world and take up hobby after hobby, from investigating one’s ancestry to joining a choir. Who needs to prepare for it when there are grandchildren to look after, groups to join, degrees to take and book clubs to start?

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If you are one of the rising number of people working part-time, earn some extra cash in dog walking or rampant veg growing<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/10/jobs-home-working-tips">• Top tips for working at home</a><p>Happy days are here again – or so you might assume from a recent wave of optimistic reports about the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/aug/30/bcc-economic-forecast-recession" title="">economic outlook</a> and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/aug/31/consumer-confidence-recession-economy" title="">rising consumer confidence</a>. But while unemployment is down, the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/aug/11/claimant-count-falls-unemployment" title="">latest labour market figures reveal a surge in part-time jobs</a> as employers remain anxious about long-term recovery prospects, suggesting it may not be time to hang out the bunting just yet.</p><p>With more of us working fewer hours and with a resulting earnings gap to close, there's arguably never been a better time to set up a business you can run in your spare time from home. Whether it's to help make ends meet, or to follow your passion, or maybe even both, we've asked the experts to come up with 50 practical and cheap ways to make some extra cash.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2010/sep/04/50-side-businesses-from-home">Continue reading...</a>

50 side businesses to set up from home

Sep 4, 2010 0:01

If you are one of the rising number of people working part-time, earn some extra cash in dog walking or rampant veg growing

• Top tips for working at home

Happy days are here again – or so you might assume from a recent wave of optimistic reports about the economic outlook and rising consumer confidence. But while unemployment is down, the latest labour market figures reveal a surge in part-time jobs as employers remain anxious about long-term recovery prospects, suggesting it may not be time to hang out the bunting just yet.

With more of us working fewer hours and with a resulting earnings gap to close, there's arguably never been a better time to set up a business you can run in your spare time from home. Whether it's to help make ends meet, or to follow your passion, or maybe even both, we've asked the experts to come up with 50 practical and cheap ways to make some extra cash.

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The manufacturer’s practice of producing wildly varying quotations for the same job has left customers confused and angry<p>Howdens Joinery, Britain’s biggest manufacturer and supplier of fitted kitchens, has been accused of helping builders exploit unsuspecting consumers by producing estimates that bear no relation to the true price of a kitchen.</p><p>The supplier recently produced three wildly different itemised estimates for one Hertfordshire family that varied from £9,916 to £44,895. Yet all three estimates relate to exactly the same set of modest kitchen units and appliances. So on the £44,895 estimate, for example, a Howdens 1600RPM integrated washing machine is listed as costing £1,291.99, yet on the £9,916 estimate the price of the same machine has plummeted to £380. And it’s a similar story with the other listed items. So how can the price of white goods and kitchen cupboards vary so dramatically?</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/jul/16/howdens-kitchen-varying-quotations-customers-confused">Continue reading...</a>

Buying a Howdens kitchen? Make sure what you’re quoted fits the bill

July 16, 2016 7:00

The manufacturer’s practice of producing wildly varying quotations for the same job has left customers confused and angry

Howdens Joinery, Britain’s biggest manufacturer and supplier of fitted kitchens, has been accused of helping builders exploit unsuspecting consumers by producing estimates that bear no relation to the true price of a kitchen.

The supplier recently produced three wildly different itemised estimates for one Hertfordshire family that varied from £9,916 to £44,895. Yet all three estimates relate to exactly the same set of modest kitchen units and appliances. So on the £44,895 estimate, for example, a Howdens 1600RPM integrated washing machine is listed as costing £1,291.99, yet on the £9,916 estimate the price of the same machine has plummeted to £380. And it’s a similar story with the other listed items. So how can the price of white goods and kitchen cupboards vary so dramatically?

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Injecting humour, personality or criticisms into a job ad can be a risky business – as one south London theatre recently discovered<p>Pity the London theatre struggling to recruit an office administrator in exchange for a full-time salary of as little as £15,000. Sadly, it’s not clear if anyone might still seize the opportunity to earn below the London living wage, after an unusually worded job ad, posted by the Tea House theatre in south London, disappeared from the&nbsp;internet.</p><p>“Dear millennials,” <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/18/wanky-job-advert-is-everything-thats-wrong-with-society-today-6787408/" title="">began the ad</a> on Arts Jobs, an online service run by Arts Council England. There followed a sob story about the challenges&nbsp;– no doubt very real&nbsp;– of financing a fringe theatre in a former pub.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2017/jul/18/do-obnoxious-job-ads-ever-work">Continue reading...</a>

‘We have not been impressed so far’: do obnoxious job ads ever work?

July 18, 2017 15:59

Injecting humour, personality or criticisms into a job ad can be a risky business – as one south London theatre recently discovered

Pity the London theatre struggling to recruit an office administrator in exchange for a full-time salary of as little as £15,000. Sadly, it’s not clear if anyone might still seize the opportunity to earn below the London living wage, after an unusually worded job ad, posted by the Tea House theatre in south London, disappeared from the internet.

“Dear millennials,” began the ad on Arts Jobs, an online service run by Arts Council England. There followed a sob story about the challenges – no doubt very real – of financing a fringe theatre in a former pub.

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<p>Borrowing costs may still be at an all-time low but be prepared for bigger bills – they are on their way soon</p><p>Mortgage holders can breathe a sigh of relief after the Bank of England decided last week to leave borrowing costs at an all time low – but it came with the warning that interest rate rises are on the way. The current 0.25% rate is the lowest in the bank’s 323-year history and changes upwards could lead to homeowners, who have borrowed at the reduced levels, to face increases in their bills in the near future.</p><p>“Just a slight rise to the Bank of England base rate could really hit consumer finances hard, and it’s not something they would see coming, considering the low interest rate environment today,” says Rachel Springall, of the financial data website Moneyfacts.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/08/mortgage-rates-rise-borrowing-costs-bills">Continue reading...</a>

Mortgage rates will rise – so 
are you ready 
to take a hit?

Aug 8, 2017 17:52

Borrowing costs may still be at an all-time low but be prepared for bigger bills – they are on their way soon

Mortgage holders can breathe a sigh of relief after the Bank of England decided last week to leave borrowing costs at an all time low – but it came with the warning that interest rate rises are on the way. The current 0.25% rate is the lowest in the bank’s 323-year history and changes upwards could lead to homeowners, who have borrowed at the reduced levels, to face increases in their bills in the near future.

“Just a slight rise to the Bank of England base rate could really hit consumer finances hard, and it’s not something they would see coming, considering the low interest rate environment today,” says Rachel Springall, of the financial data website Moneyfacts.

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Online property sales are dominated by a handful of websites, but there are many others with a different focus, specialist criteria and alternative search facilities<p>If you're looking for somewhere new to live you'll be well aware of the main property websites such as <a href="http://www.rightmove.co.uk/" title="Rightmove website">Rightmove</a> and <a href="http://www.zoopla.co.uk/">Zoopla</a>. But while they carry more than a million listing, you may miss out on your perfect home if you make them your only port of call.</p><p>If you aren't sure where you want to live, want to take on a renovation project or dream of living somewhere truly unique, there are other sites to help you in your search. Here are 15 of the best alternatives for buyers and tenants.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/sep/24/property-websites-alternatives-rightmove">Continue reading...</a>

Property websites: 15 great alternatives to Rightmove

Sep 24, 2013 7:00

Online property sales are dominated by a handful of websites, but there are many others with a different focus, specialist criteria and alternative search facilities

If you're looking for somewhere new to live you'll be well aware of the main property websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla. But while they carry more than a million listing, you may miss out on your perfect home if you make them your only port of call.

If you aren't sure where you want to live, want to take on a renovation project or dream of living somewhere truly unique, there are other sites to help you in your search. Here are 15 of the best alternatives for buyers and tenants.

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