Despite women saving and earning more than ever, the number of people achieving home ownership has stagnated

When I was 16, I read a room of your own by Virginia Woolf, an essay based on two lectures she gave at Cambridge in 1929, and it struck me. I wish I had discovered it on the shelves of some great old library, but the truth is I was shopping for some atrocious CDs at HMV in Edinburgh when I saw it next to the rock biographies and thought “that’s under five quid and I might end up “. in an afternoon.

I interpreted it as a radical call for autonomy. What might have happened if Shakespeare had an equally talented sister who had been given the same space and freedom to write as he was? The thought never left me. Since then I have longed to have a room of my own and last year that dream came true when I bought my first apartment on my own.

Finally, I had a separate home office where I could think, plan, and work. Woolf would be proud, right?

In a way, yes. We have seen great progress in recent decades. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 required banks and building societies to treat both sexes equally, even though many women were only approved for mortgages if they had a male guarantor until the late 1970s.

I never take my property rights for granted. In more than 30 countries, women and girls are prohibited from owning and inheriting land. In dozens more, equality laws are flouted because of what the charity Stand For Her Land describes as “deep-seated patriarchal social norms”.

Women with access to land ownership and inheritance earn more, save more and are eight times less likely to experience domestic abuse, according to research by campaign group Landesa. So we should celebrate the fact that here in the UK, women have property rights that are rigorously enforced.

See also  At AT&T, everyone gets our best deals on the iPhone 14 Pro

But in other ways, Woolf would be bummed out. Data from the Savills estate agency shows that only 33 percent of all mortgaged owner occupants are women, and the number of mortgaged female owner occupants has barely changed over the past decade, rising just 2.7 percent.

Despite women saving, investing, and earning more than ever, the number of women achieving what is arguably the pinnacle of financial independence, real estate, has stagnated.

Woolf might as well raise an eyebrow if I explained the backstory behind my purchase. I first bought property when I was in my early 20s, and although I am proud to be a feminist knowing that it was partly thanks to the money from my grandmother Romany (a pioneering journalist in her own right), I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t joined. with my brother and got my parents to act as bondsmen.

More of Property and Mortgages

And although my last purchase was made thanks to my hard work and savings, the support my parents offered me was essential.

So you might be able to get a room of yours, you probably can’t do it in your own. You will probably need a partner not only to increase your deposit and reach the qualifying earnings level, but also to share the practical and emotional burden of it all.

Single women are also having a harder time than singles or couples during the cost-of-living crisis. Single people already pay a premium due to the so-called “single supplement” charged on products and experiences commonly designed for two (particularly hotel rooms). But the inability to share the costs with someone else will really hit hard over the next year.

See also  3 steps to claim the maximum monthly Social Security benefit of $4,194 | Smart Switch: Personal Finance

the lender ocean finance estimates that single people pay £7,564 more in living expenses each year than members of a cohabiting couple. Combine that with the “pink tax” on women’s products and a higher inflation rate for women than men, according to official data extrapolated by the new statesman this week, and it’s clear the odds are stacked against women trying to achieve financial independence.

But the costs of No having financial independence are more difficult to quantify. How much productivity, enterprise and creativity goes untapped when women are not given the space to develop their ideas? How much do they lose in the long run by forcing themselves into the wrong relationships just to survive? How much will they be paid for the domestic and care work they do throughout their lives, both by their spouses and by the State?

If Woolf were present today, she could re-imagine Judith Shakespeare in a dingy shared house, facing rented life unless she boards with John. At that point, she would be on the commuter to horrendous childcare costs, which would gobble up her salary or force her to quit just as she was about to write the greatest play ever. .

If she was lucky, John would make sure she was taken care of. If it didn’t, they’d end up divorcing (which happens in around 42 per cent of marriages) and Judith would be more likely to end up in old-age poverty than John, according to Age UK, with a pension worth just a fifth. part of yours, according to the Chartered Insurance Institute.

See also  Leadership Lessons from Corporate Feminism

Either way, Judith is likely the victim of a terrible state pension blunder: This week alone there were shocking reports of women turning 66 who were wrongly denied the full amount, despite paying their marriage stamp. In most settings, it’s hard to imagine her becoming the best playwright of her generation.

All men AND women deserve the opportunity to own an affordable room of their own, regardless of their relationship status. But it’s been nearly 100 years since Woolf’s essay was published, and her vision of Shakespeare’s sister, free to make her mark on the world without any financial hindrance, feels far more fantastical than she really should. .