Marriage or mortgage

Marriage or Mortgage, Wedding or House: What’s Right For You?

16th November 2022

If you’re a young couple with limited savings, the biggest question you’ll probably find yourself asking is: marriage or mortgage. After asking “what should we have for dinner?”, of course. This question is so big that there’s even a whole Netflix series dedicated to it. With an average UK wedding costing £31,974 and average first-time buyer deposit of £58,986, it’s realistic to have to choose between these two huge life events when you’re planning your next steps together.

Whilst the practical option is to invest in a home instead of spending on a big party, research revealed that 12% of people surveyed believed taking out a mortgage was more important than getting married proving that every couple is unique with their own priorities. In other words, there really is no one correct answer. That’s why we’ve summed up the real benefits of both choices to help guide you to a decision that’s right for you.

Getting on the property ladder

The obvious pro of getting a mortgage first is that it enables you to get on the property ladder as soon as you possibly can. Once you’re on it, it only gets easier from there. The sooner you start paying off your mortgage, the quicker you’ll achieve that magical part of your life where you’re rent and mortgage-free. Buying a property early, especially in a good location, also has the added benefit that it’s likely to steadily increase in value over time.

Marriage can make mortgages easier

Being married doesn’t automatically grant you mortgage success, but it can certainly help you along in the process. If you get a joint mortgage, then marriage will potentially earn you better loan terms. With two sets of incomes and two sets of (hopefully good) credit history, you’ve got a much better chance at qualifying and demonstrating your ability to repay the mortgage.

It still depends on your financial information like income, debt and credit score, but there’s more margin for error with both of you involved than were you to tackle a mortgage individually. You’re therefore less of a risk to creditors and mortgage providers.

No more rent

The harsh reality of renting is that you’ll never see that rent money again. It isn’t an investment like a mortgage payment, and simply disappears into your landlord’s pocket if you rent privately, leaving you finding it hard to save a deposit. Buying your first home can be a real challenge and need a big deposit to get started, but it’s now possible to get a mortgage for as low as 5% upfront. You may need to pay higher monthly payments, perhaps even higher than your current rent, but at least it’s contributing to your mortgage rather than vanishing into the ether.

Moving house new home

Starting a family

Some couples don’t want to think about starting a family until they’re married, while others feel the same about owning their own home. If either of these sound like you, then it’s a big thing to factor into your decision. It’s also important to take your beliefs into account, especially if you don’t believe in pre-marital sex or have more traditional views on marriage.

Freedom to make your house a home

Owning your own property grants you the ability to do what you want with your home and fully personalise it to the two of you. No more restrictions from your landlord or family telling you that you can’t completely redecorate, make significant changes or even put a nail in the wall. If you absolutely love hosting, for instance, you may want to knock down a wall to create an open plan kitchen/living space – definitely not an option in a rental, but doable in a home that you own.

Wedding registry vs housewarming gifts

One of the upsides of important life moments? The tradition of gifting. Both weddings and housewarmings are known for being occasions where gifts are – love it or loathe it – the societal expectation. With housewarming gifts you roll the dice; it can be anything from a new blender or crystal vase to a bottle of wine and a plant. Meanwhile, wedding gifts (if you set up a registry) are more in your control, so you can actually get the things you need for your home. It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s surprising how useful this can be.

Wedding Reception

Time to make decisions

Buying a house together is a big deal with lots of important decisions to make. By holding off on the big purchase, you’re buying yourself time to figure out what you truly want as a couple. This could be the location or neighbourhood you want to live in, which can take a lot of time and research to narrow down, or it could be the size or style of the house you want. Importantly, you need to firmly agree on a price range for your first home, which might be easier once you’re married and no longer have to worry about future wedding costs.

Our verdict

Given the current cost of living crisis in the UK, and ominous financial signs – particularly with regards to mortgages – we would recommend putting that money towards a mortgage before you do a wedding, as fun and important as the latter might be. Mortgages can help you get away from the money sink that is renting. As we’ve discussed, though, it entirely depends on your own circumstances and what you think matters most to you.

Whatever you decide to do, there’s one piece of advice worth following: don’t sacrifice your emergency fund. And if you don’t have one, start with that first. Life can hit you with the unexpected at any time, so make sure you’re ready and can comfortably survive, above all else.

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