Amazing offer but I’m drowning in debt

Just wanted to vent. I’m 26 and I will be finishing my masters in the US a few months from now. I managed to secure great offers and ended up choosing analyst 1 position at a mega fund in their infrastructure team. I will be working in their London office as well so total comp is slightly less than NYC. I’m expecting really great comp still but I’m drowning in debt, literally. I have a total of $95k outstanding debt from a private lender. I’m an international student so the lender has their foot on my neck with a 14% interest rate. Basically my monthly payment should be around $1300 (~£950).

I’m starting to question whether I made the right decision. This programme is at a top university and was extremely selective. I’m happy with the offers I had but the debt is just too much :((

 

Look at the bright side. You would have been wiped out if you had to return to wherever with this level of debt. At least the job in UK will help you stay afloat. Once you are in the UK, contact lenders for refinancing at a lower cost.

 
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Its a lot of money but it got you a top high paying job, what else did you expect? 

Live below your means for 2/3 years and pay it off. 

 

I don’t think I can get a loan that big from a UK bank, at least for now. Just planning to grind my ass in my job and get good bonus and maybe apply for a loan after a year or so. The thing is I’m still a foreigner so banks are extra cautious with ppl like myself. 

 

Look into Sofi. They specialize in student debt refinancing, and base the interest rate on your major and job options instead of some nonsense like most banks do. I am not completely sure if they can help you because you are an international student, but it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot.

Think of it like this, why would a company that is number 1 and leads their market have to pay CCC rates for debt? Doesnt make sense. 

 

Firstly, congratulations on the offer!

While total comp is lower in London vs. New York, I think the slightly lower cost of living compensates for that. It’s possible to put ~950 aside each month with the salary you’ll be getting to pay your debt off, as long as you pick the right places in London to rent (e.g., don’t be renting a 1-bed apartment for yourself in Mayfair or Chelsea). Think there’s plenty of info on what areas are best to rent and other London-related saving stuff on this site and online, but happy to recommend some areas and decent estate agents that I’ve used in the past as a Londoner myself.

 

Definitely feel free to recommend or just link any threads you might have, would genuinely appreciate that. I have a friend who lives in Richmond and is renting out en-suite room for only £1.2k so I think I might go ahead, but the commute will be +45 minutes everyday (I won't have wfh). 

 

I wouldn’t recommend Richmond if you can’t WFH given train strikes do happen as it operates on Southern Western Railway, which is part of National Rail and not transport for London (TfL). It can actually end up being more expensive too that way as you’ll be using mix-mode journeys travelling both on TfL and National Rail daily.

Majority of people starting out in finance in London usually start in Canary Wharf (good for convenience but dead area), or along the Jubilee Line (tip: the more east of London you go, it tends to be cheaper), so areas like Canning Town, Silvertown and Stratford offer slightly cheaper but very modern and sizeable apartments.

Going a little more central now, London Bridge / Waterloo / Southwark area probabily the best. I've personally found the flats to still be decently price, maybe not as modern as CW and CT, but being in central is better for convenience and socialising, and is just outright beautiful in summer so the trade-off makes sense. I know plent of people who start their junior year's here and end up staying long-term because there's no reason to leave, vs. living in Canary Wharf where it's stale and good for the first year or two.

Going more west, e.g., Westminster, Chelsea, Mayfair, this would just most junior's budget, especially if on your own.

Other pockets that tend to be cheaper are places like Hackney and Clapham which if you like partying, would be right up your street. As well as Angel, Battersea and Islington which are decent areas.

The only thing with your situation you need to consider is a guarantor (someone that will be liable to pay your rent if you can't). It's standard that when you sign to rent an apartment, that you have a guarantor down which must be UK-based. If you don't have one, then people take 1 or 2 options:

1) Use an online guarantor service - have known some internaltional students to use this this as an option but would avoid if possible.

2) Offer 6+ months rent upfront - not ideal in your situation but better to know about this now than later.

I'd recommend to start looking ~3 months in the lead up to your start date, and expand your leads by buddying up with someone looking too or those who will have a spot opening up. Things usually things move very fast in London. Worst time to find a place is around June - September where many people are moving for uni, new jobs, etc.

All in all, Richmond maybe a good option for the initial move and finding your feet, but long-term, I think you'll get pretty sick of it and it won't actually pay your debt off any quicker.

Estate agents (disclaimer: just my personal experience):

Recommend -
Life Residential
Johns & Co
Chase Evans
Winkworth

Avoid -
Foxtons (these guys would ask what your highest bid is to rent and just aren't worth working with lol)

Tip: If you find a good one, ask the estate agent to text you of any suitable places before they post it online.

Other online routes:
OpenRent - no estate agent involved in this, it's direct to the landlord and regulated. I actually got way more successful using OpenRent in the peak of the rental market as you usually meet the LL at viewing, don't have estate agents trying to create a bidding war, etc.
SpareRoom - Used to be useful but found it's a waste of time when you just want to get the deal done
FB groups - can be hit and miss, but as long as you can figure the scammy posts and which ones are genuine (like MatesPlace or female specific ones), you'll get the hang of it.

Sorry for the spelling + grammar in the post but hope it was useful and let me know if you have any other questions - happy to discuss over PM.

 

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