When Alex Duke, 28, moved to a new job in Essex on a higher salary, he decided it was time to put his earnings into a worthwhile investment and started looking for a home to buy. Living in Bromley, he wanted a change of scene and quick access to the capital, but without the high London price tag. When he visited Victory Pier, Berkeley's landmark development in Gillingham, Kent, he found that it met all his criteria and more, and thanks to Help to Buy, he could afford to buy a spacious new 2 bedroom apartment.
Alex explains: "I'd been living at my mother's house but wanted more independence. My girlfriend rents a Berkeley home in Woolwich and signed me up for new home alerts, which is how I heard about Victory Pier. I liked the development immediately - it's in a lovely riverside setting, has great facilities and it's easy to get to London. I put down a deposit a week later and moved in after just 8 weeks."
He adds: "I knew I'd get far more for my money in Kent than in London, especially using Help to Buy, and the Medway Renaissance regeneration that's transforming the area makes it a very good buy from an investment perspective."
Under the Help to Buy scheme, buyers only need a 5% deposit and the government provides a loan for up 20% of the purchase price which is interest free for the first 5 years; the other 75% is then typically covered by a mortgage lender.
Alex's apartment cost £250,000; he took the 20% government loan of £50,000 and topped up the 5% deposit of £12,500 to £23,000 with savings, which meant he was able to secure a more affordable mortgage of £177,000. He comments: "My monthly mortgage payments are just £577 and I pay £1,350 a year for the service charge, which overall is very affordable compared to London."
Alex's 2 bedroom apartment is on the top floor and from his balcony he enjoys views across the communal gardens and river beyond. The second bedroom gives him flexibility: "I'm using the bedroom as storage space, but there's always room for family or friends to stay over" he comments.
Victory Pier offers facilities that are more usually associated with homes in London. Alex's building has a private Wi-Fi lounge and there is also an on-site gym, which he appreciates as a regular gym-goer. He also benefits from a parking space in the underground car park.
Alex works as a facilities manager for a nationwide retail group and has an easy 30-minute drive to his work in Purfleet. It is easy to get to London; from Gillingham station, 20 minutes' walk away, trains to the capital take as little as 43 minutes. For trips abroad, there are Eurostar services to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels from Ebbsfleet, 13 miles away, and Gatwick Airport is within one hour's drive.
Since moving to Victory Pier in June 2018, Alex has settled in quickly and loves the lifestyle. He says: "It's great being by the river and the nearby dockside area is a lovely place to shop and eat out. Living in this area has opened my eyes to other parts of the country - there's so much countryside to explore. I've made friends and I'm socialising a lot locally."
Alex concludes: "I'm so glad I made the move, I take pride in having a home of my own and it's changed my priorities. I'd rather buy something for my apartment than spend elsewhere. I'd recommend anyone to take the plunge, especially while Help to Buy is available to make buying easier."