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How to live in a mansion for the price of a studio flat

You could live somewhere like this Photo: Emma Burrows

It takes the average UK house buyer around 10 years to save for a house deposit but, if you are prepared to be creative and think outside the box, you could save yourself a lot of money by becoming a property guardian.

Property guardians can live in the best parts of town for a fraction of the cost by living in old schools, care homes or fire stations.

Anyone can be a property guardian - there are no restrictions on age or occupation. On average, outside London, a guardian will pay around £200 a month in rent, including bills. The reason it is so cheap compared to 'normal' rent is because the owners want guardians in the buildings to keep them safe from vandals or squatters while they decide what to do with them.

Eventually I'd love to have a place of my own. So being here allows me to have that vision really. The price of rent and houses at the moment is just crazy so [doing] this actually makes this achievable.

– Preya Chauhan, property guardian
Preya in the school hall in the building she lives in Credit: Emma Burrows
You could have your own swimming pool Credit: Emma Burrows

There are a number of companies which place guardians in properties, but there are a few ground rules:

  • No parties. You may be living with 13 other people but you are not allowed to have all your friends over
  • You may have to do some care-taking duties, such as patrolling the property every day
  • If the owners want you to leave - you have to go and have a limited time to move (although many companies help to re-house guardians)

Living this way is very economical but it's also very social. It's an alternative way of living. It wouldn't work for everyone but it works for us.

– Neil Pinnock, property guardian.

Despite the tempting price tag, being a property guardian might not be for everyone because it needs a lot of creativity to take turn this...

You need some creativity to turn this... Credit: Emma Burrows

...in to this!

...in to this! Credit: Emma Burrows