'I work seven jobs but can't afford to buy a house in the village where I grew up'

  • Video report by ITV Wales journalist Ian Lang

A 24-year-old man working seven jobs in a bid to buy his first home has spoken of his "heartbreak" at being priced out of the community where he has grown up.

Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn, from Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd, north Wales, said the village is being taken over by second and holiday homes, leaving many young locals unable to afford to buy.

It's understood people wanting to relocate to more rural areas, or snap up desirable holiday homes there, is behind the boom - fuelled further by the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as the Welsh Government announced its next steps to tackle the impact of second homes on Welsh communities.

The issue was highlighted in a co-operation agreement between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru on Monday.

"Everybody dreams of owning their own home but a lot of people my age feel they just can't afford that at the moment," Elfed told ITV News.

"The prices of houses have risen drastically where I live. I remember decent houses going for £60,000, even £50,000, a few years ago. Now - £110,000, £120,000, and up.

"A lot of these properties are being gobbled up as second homes or rental properties. And it's taken that piece of the ladder - that small house we could have afforded, and other young people in my village could have afforded. There are some houses that are in reach for younger people, but often they don't get to them in time.

"It's just building plots left, or houses that are in the hundreds of thousands that we can't even imagine buying. It's absolutely heartbreaking."

Elfed, who has a 21-year-old partner, Anwen, desperately wants to remain part of his local community but says it's a dream that currently feels out of reach for him.

He says he rarely has a day off work as he aims to scrape enough money together to buy a modest property.

"I've got two gardening jobs; I clean the village hall; I write for a newspaper; I work for a community company, and I work for a hotel too," he said.

"It's a miracle to have a day off, which is usually spent on the farm fixing things or helping my father.

"I'm trying everything [to buy], but I'm not succeeding. As I'm building up my money pile a bit higher, the house prices are just flying up like rockets."

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Elfed said the housing issue used to be more of a problem on the Welsh coast, but more recently has moved further inland - with farmhouses, pubs, chapels, and even tiny workers' cottages now being snapped up as desirable second or holiday homes.

He has welcomed news that the second homes situation will be looked at, describing it as an "emergency".

He added: "It's got to stop - I've had enough. It's reached the point now where it's just ridiculous.

"The Welsh communities will wither and die - the language will die.

"I want to have children and put them in the local school; keep the Sunday school and the chapels going; do concerts in the hall. You know, keep that feeling of community that has been kept for so long.

"Nobody wants a dead community. Everybody loses if that community dies."

On Tuesday, Dwyfor in Gwynedd was named as the location for a new pilot scheme looking at improving the availability - and affordability - of homes for local people.

Wales' climate change minister Julie James confirmed that the scheme will bring together a range of actions to address the impact large numbers of second homes and short-term holiday lets can have.

Speaking in the Senedd, she said: “We want young people to have a realistic prospect of buying or renting affordable homes in the places they have grown up, so they can live and work in their local communities.

“High numbers of second and holiday homes in one area can threaten the Welsh language in its heartlands and affect the sustainability of some rural areas.

“We are a welcoming nation and tourism is a major part in our economy bringing jobs and income to many parts of Wales. But we don’t want ghost villages in seasonal holiday spots – places where no one’s at home in the winter months. 

“These are complex issues and there are no quick fixes. What may be right for one community may not work for another. We will need to bring forward a range of actions - there is no one silver bullet here."