Guy Alexander Bell, now 43, was a mature student studying teaching training at Plymouth University and planning to get on the property ladder shortly after when he met his wife.
“I ended up meeting my wife and having a family. As we were obviously paying rent every month, like many people, we couldn’t save up for a deposit for a house,” said Guy, from Plymstock.
“The prices were going up and up and we were seeing the dream of home ownership vanishing before our eyes so we just carried on renting until 2009 when we decided to move to Spain.
“We knew we had a much better chance of getting on the property ladder and found a place on a five-year lease with the option to buy at the end, so every time we paid the rent, it came off the deposit to buy the house.”
Guy and his wife were paying the equivalent of £650 a month in rent for a much bigger house than the small bungalow they now rent in Plymstock.
“We had an amazing place like something out of a film. We had a massive four-bedroom detached house in Valencia with a swimming pool, orchards and mature gardens,” said Guy, who has a 13-year-old daughter and 25-year-old stepdaughter.
“We started up a business but with the economy in Spain it started getting really bad. The work just wasn’t coming in and in Spain you don’t get any assistance or help from the state.
“It got worse and worse and the dream went sour. We handed back the keys to our old place, left all of the furniture and drove back to Plymouth.”
When Guy, his wife and his teenaged daughter arrived in Plymouth last November, they found that the prices for renting had gone up further since they left and that “the prices of houses aren’t worth it”.
“At the moment we don’t think we will be able to find somewhere. Even trying to find rental property to get out of this place is proving ridiculous,” said Guy.
“As soon as a good place comes on the internet or is advertised in The Herald in the area where we want to stay, the house gets let almost immediately. In fact only last week we were actually gazumped by someone who offered higher rent, three hours before we were due to view the house.
“The whole idea of home ownership seems so far away at the moment. We haven’t given up but I think we’ll have to wait a couple of years to put a deposit down.
“From my point of view, I’m 43 now and I should really be a home owner but because I put myself through university as a post-grad and travelled, I’m not.”