Douglas Bell on Guardianship

Serial Entrepreneur and Guardian: Douglas Bell

When did you first become a property guardian and why?

I first became a property guardian in my mid 30’s… at the time a startup entrepreneur at seed funding stage for a new business with no salary. Living with my partner, herself an architect and designer, we decided to give property guardianship a go having heard great reviews from friends living a very high quality of life at a fraction of the costs we were living on. We lucked out on our first property - an amazing abandoned nunnery in the heart of Belsize Park – It was an elegant Georgian building with the odd religious relic still on the walls and gorgeous rose garden at the front. We shared our kitchen and bathrooms with a few others, and each enjoyed generous sized bedrooms perfect for both living and working from home – a fantastic additional benefit for me. The monthly cost of living was half of what it should have been if not less for that area.

In your experience, what do you feel were the main benefits?

A great benefit to the model is that it often includes all utility bills – so there’s no need to worry about gas, electricity and council tax which can be a punishing cost at the end of a month in a normal tenancy. There’s a simplicity to living as a guardian, saving you time, taking the pressure off and you can sometimes get much better properties than you would rent in the conventional sense.

Guardianships are a very economical way to live in London in potentially very cool and well-located properties. For an entrepreneur, they can really take the pressure off when already stretched for time and for money. We remained at the nunnery for 9 months – though could have stayed on much longer. The property is still today under a guardianship scheme, and it could take many more years for the building to be converted into another use. I have friends who have been in one guardianship property for 6 years already. There’s also often an opportunity to make the space your own – when a building is destined to be knocked down or repurposed there’s no problem with personalising and decorating the space as you can sometimes find with private tenancies. We were able to furnish the property with free furniture found on recycling websites.

Any downsides?

Perhaps only that you don’t necessarily get to control who you are living with. There is, of course, the risk that the next person to move in could be messy or difficult – but generally, I’ve had a fantastic experience sharing with like-minded individuals and have made some lasting friendships.

Final thoughts?

I would definitely recommend others have a look at some guardian properties to see for themselves. There is the opportunity to live a much higher quality of life in London than you might otherwise, at a mere fraction of the cost.

Would you do it again?

Yes, absolutely.

Contact Maker Wharf to enquire about property guardianship opportunities now available in London’s Old Street area - and upcoming properties throughout the whole of London.


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