The UK housing crisis is leaving millions of people unable to save for price-rocketing properties. Firsttime buyers are putting down an average deposit of £32,841, with the London average ramping up further, to an astonishing £110,656.

Here are some of the ways the new generation of first time buyers are dodging this dwelling disaster.


Many post graduates taking their student debts to the cities, are staying financially float by living upon canals. While this option involves an initial fee of anything from a few hundred to a few thousand for the boat itself (and potentially that cost once over to make it habitable with basic amenities), buyers are then able to own a property outright in cities as otherwise unrealistic as London. 

Costs to take into account are mooring fees,insurance, fuel costs and license fees.

One way to get around the often disproportionately expensive mooring costs is to get a continuous cruising licence for a few hundred pounds.

This license is an arrangement with the UK’s Canal and River Trust that means boat owners must move every two weeks and travel a total of 20 miles per year.

Van life

No longer will house-van owners be looked down upon as a community of travellers and hippies. This option is becoming increasingly popular for a wide cross section of society as it allows owners limitless freedom of travel with the comfort of home. That is, if you’re prepared to stick your van on a boat. 

This is another tried and tested route (pardon the pun) and if you are prepared to make use of your gym showers and public toilets you could even get away with a cheaper conversion without proper plumbing.

Becoming a property guardian 

This less well known option is particularly popular in London, with Live-In Guardian (LIG) Scheme waiting lists up to 500 people. The role of a property guardian is simply to live in the empty property and notify of any potential security threats or maintenance issues.

The properties up for grabs are often high value. As “head guardian” in one of these schemes, you could pay as low as £425 a month for 1,000 square feet of central Zone 1 living area – a space that would cost up to £14,000 a month on the rental market.

The catch is that there’s no guarantee of how long you can stay in the property you “guard” because the notice period is only two weeks. Additionally, it is rare to get a 1-2 person apartment, with most places available hosting larger groups of 6+ guards.

Tiny houses

The tiny house movement has risen in the ranks of property seekers thanks to eco blogs and tiny house YouTube channels such as Living Big In a Tiny House, where Bryce Langston and his camera crew tour around Australia looking at peoples’ individually constructed homes. These allow people extra freedom to express their individuality through their specifically chosen infrastructure and personalised design. Most of these upcycle and drastically modify 20ft shipping containers by extending the ceiling to have two floors with an upstairs bedroom and loft but the variations differ vastly. The focus of these people is often geared towards a minimalist, environmental lifestyle so many of the homes strive towards absolute independence from the national grid.

Tiny houses: Building somewhere to live for £2,500 BBC News

Communal living

This one sounds far from alternative at first, as many of us have lived in shared university halls or shared an apartment with strangers. However, this concept is being taken one step further across many areas in Britain where individuals, couples and families are choosing to share land. These arrangements come in many forms and often involve the previous options. Some groups move their individual tiny homes onto a plot of land and share access to one main, shared house or toilet/ shower facility. Others may contain a mixture of habitats including converted fire trucks, yurts, converting shipping containers and much more.

These new and ancient ways of living all come from a wide array of individual motivations. What unites all of these reasons is personal freedom. In an increasingly globalised, digitalised and individualistic world, more and more people want to live in a real community without fear of added debt or mortgages. People also want to travel and still feel a sense of belonging, so it seems many more of us will be utilising these approaches in the coming years.