How this teacher found a better quality of life and a first home

‘I’m so happy to have moved into a home of my own’ (Picture: Louise Bellaers Photography)

After renting in Kent for a few years, Shannen O’Connor, a teacher, couldn’t wait to purchase a home of her own. She was flexible on the location, but needed to find somewhere offering a lower cost of living and a better quality of life,
but within easy reach of the school where she teaches in west London.

Her search led her to Novus Apartments in Slough, a town that’s far more affordable than many in the home counties, yet the commute into Paddington is just as fast as if she lived in Zone 2.

She was so impressed with the development’s high spec and location that she made up her mind to buy a one-bed apartment.

The development


Town-centre apartments aplenty (Picture: Leon Day)

Novus Apartments is the latest collection of homes to be delivered by SUR – a joint venture between Slough Borough Council and Muse Developments. The 64, high-quality studio suites, one and two-bed apartments are in the town centre, close to the station and alongside UK’s first Moxy and Residence Inn double-decker hotel.

They feature Symphony kitchens, contemporary bathrooms and fitted wardrobes in all master bedrooms, and start from £210,000 for a studio and from £255,000 for a one-bed.

Help to Buy’s available, and it’s one of the first developments to provide the new First Homes scheme, offering local first-time buyers and key workers a 30 % discount.

Find out more with Novus Apartments.

‘The show homes were spacious and felt fresh and airy, and the finish is really good, too, with all of the appliances included. It just seemed the ideal first home,’ she says.

She secured her home using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, which allowed her to borrow 20% of the purchase price with no interest to pay on the loan for five years.

The scheme is available to first-time buyers on designated new-builds costing up to £437,600 in the south east and £600,000 in London (where to maximum loan is
40 per cent of the value) with lower price thresholds across the rest of England, but comes to an end next March.

Do the maths

For a one-bed flat:

Full market price: £255,000

5% deposit: £12,750

20% Help to Buy loan: £51,000

Mortgage: approx. £680 pcm

Service charge: approx. £120 pcm

Monthly spend: approx. £800

It was a lifeline for Shannen, as she admits. ‘It has meant that I have been able to move out of rented and into a home of my own.’

Although she wasn’t familiar with Slough beforehand, she settled in very quickly following her move in August. ‘It’s such a short walk to the station, which means I have an easy commute into London for work,’ she adds.

‘There are so many lovely pubs and shops to explore at the weekend and
I have been really enjoying getting to know the surrounding areas. Because
I was buying on my own, it was important that I found a home that felt safe and secure. The key card and security system here has given me that peace of mind.’

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