‘Minimalist’, ‘Alternative’ or ‘Boomerang’: Which first-time buyer tribe do you belong in?

Financial News

Last month, we explored the world of DINKYs, DINOs and SKIs; acronyms used to pigeonhole people with similar financial outlooks and priorities. This month, we have three new terms. Only this time, they’re descriptors of the three main types of first-time buyer in the modern market, at least in terms of the methods being used to gather the deposit for their first property.

Focusing on deposits

According to research from Santander, the average first-time buyer expects to need a deposit of approximately £20,478 toward their first property. Meanwhile they expect to be able to buy their home within five years. That means that the average first-time buyer needs to put away at least £341.30 per month to meet their goal.

The research also shows that the average income for UK adults is £26,001 per year (£20,959.68 after tax) or £1,746.64 per month. (Source: Net Salary Calculator) The need to save almost a quarter of their monthly income is likely to make the monthly budget feel rather tight, which is perhaps why so many are joining the ranks of ‘Minimalists’, ‘Alternatives’ and ‘Boomerangs’.

So, who are they, and what are they doing to make sure that they can buy their own home within half a decade or less?


These are the prospective first-time buyers who are cutting back on all non-essentials to maximise the amount they can put toward their deposit each month.

Within this group are two million people who say they are happy to swap their normal meals for cheaper alternatives, even if they lack nutrition. Meanwhile, 21% are willing to give up alcohol and 11% will give up their gym membership to add extra cash to their savings.

Those taking the minimalist approach to saving toward their first home are more likely to have tighter deadlines. The research shows that some first-time buyers are looking to be able to buy their first home within 12 months and to do so, they are making severe lifestyle cuts to be able to put £744.22 away each month; that’s £8930.64 per year, just under half (46%) of the average annual post-tax income.


It might be obvious from the name, but these prospective first-time buyers either plan to, or already have, moved back in with their parents after finishing university. By cohabiting with their, or their partner’s parents for a few years, they free up more money to save toward a deposit.

The research shows that ‘Boomerangs’ make up 38% of people preparing to buy their first home. On average, these people expect to live with parents for roughly two years, with 15% willing to stay for more than five.


Surprisingly, the largest group of future homeowners are those who are turning to more modern, and emerging, fundraising practices. These include:

  • Selling shares in the property which will provide eventual capital returns (22%)
  • Crowdfunding (19%)
  • Selling guaranteed interest bonds offering fixed returns on investments (9%)
  • Selling raffle tickets for an equity share in the property (8%)

These options are not tried and tested and we’d recommend against them, or giving them very careful consideration at least.

Making the journey easier

There are a range of options available to ease the pressure facing first-time buyers trying to pull their deposit together.

Opening a Lifetime ISA (Individual Savings Account) should be your first port-of-call. These give you the ability to save up to £4,000 per year, which then attracts a 25% annual government bonus.

You can only have one Lifetime ISA per person, but each person buying a property can use the money saved in their account, which means that, for couples, there is the potential to save up to £10,000 per year in a tax-efficient ISA wrapper.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested.

On top of savings accounts which are designed to make saving for a home easier, there are numerous homebuying schemes and mortgages which also make the process more accessible:

  • Shared ownership: Housing associations offer the opportunity for first-time buyers to purchase a percentage of their home and pay rent on the rest. You can then increase your share incrementally, until you own the entire property.
  • Help to Buy: under this scheme, the government provides first-time buyers with an equity loan of up to 20% (40% in London) of the price of a new build home. This means that you need to provide a deposit of 5% of the value of the property and 75% mortgage.
  • Help from family: If it is available, help from parents and grandparents can give first-time buyers a huge hand onto the housing ladder. Even if it is a loan, rather than a gift, borrowing from ‘the bank of mum and dad’ is usually on much more lenient terms than actual lenders.
  • Low-deposit mortgages: If help from family members is available, it may be sensible to use it as a guarantee on a 5% deposit mortgage (or 100% mortgages, which require no deposit at all). These mortgages are offered with the caveat that a substantial amount is held for several years in an account by the provider as a guarantee. Therefore, if parents and grandparents agree to lend you the money, using it as security will enable you to repay it as soon as that period ends. You can then use your current savings to provide the actual deposit, or to make mortgage repayments in the meantime.

Are you, your children or grandchildren reflected in the tribes of ‘Minimalists’, ‘Alternatives’ or ‘Boomerangs’? Whether it’s for you, or someone you love, financial advice is invaluable when getting ready to buy a home.

For more information, get in touch with Sarah or Bev on 0115 933 8433.