How to live mortgage free? Ask Max McMurdo…

A brand new property TV show is about to hit our screens that promises to show real people who've managed to break the bonds of monthly mortgage repayments. We asked one of the show's presenter's Max McMurdo to share the knowledge

Designer, upcycler, and entrepreneur Max McMurdo has appeared on Channel 4’s Shed of the Year, Gok’s Fill Your House For Free, and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, where his upcycled houseboat made from a shipping container blew us away. Max is returning to our screens tomorrow night in a new six-part series, How To Live Mortgage Free, alongside Sarah Beeny and architect Damion Burrows.

Here he tells us what we can look forward to in the show, and why he think we should all aspire to live mortgage free…

Max McMurdo

What can you tell us about the series and what we can expect from it?

Every week we follow the journey of an individual or a family who have decided, for one reason or another, to become mortgage free and they go about it in all manners of wild and wonderful ways. We’ve got people who have moved on to the water to live in boats, we’ve got land-based transport, from buses to airstream caravans.

How do you live mortgage free?

Becoming mortgage-free could be about someone winning money on a scratchcard, but that is not really what this show is about. It’s about alternative and creative ways of getting out of that big debt that’s hanging around your neck. There are so many alternatives and I think this show really celebrates that and enjoys it – it’s not all about people just getting some money and clearing a mortgage and staying put, it’s people saying I do have the security of a four-bedroom-house, but I’m going to leave that, I’m going to venture out there and be creative and do something that suits my needs. Some of the builds are absolutely gorgeous.

Imagine if you didn’t have a £2000 a month mortgage. You might be able to cut down your hours and have a better quality of life – more time together or with your children. It changes your life if you think about reducing your monthly overheads. A lot of people could gain a lot from this show.

What kind of people are involved in the series?

There’s a variety of people, but I think it’s fair to say it takes a certain character. Someone brave and with a big imagination – they all seem to have that in common. They all do it in such diverse and different ways, and for some lovely reasons. A lot of people aren’t just driven by the mortgage-free element, but also by the lifestyle change it can give them as a family. I’m not sure anyone anticipated that quite as much, because originally it was about being mortgage-free, but the lifestyle it can give you – living on the water or on the road – is actually a massive benefit.

Max McMurdo

Is there still hope for younger generations to become homeowners?

During the show I was thinking a lot about young people who work really hard but don’t even dream of becoming homeowners because it seems so farfetched. I think the average house deposit is £37,000. How will these young people ever have that lying in their banks when it can be hard enough just to survive and put food on the table?

There’s quite a few young couples on the series that prove you don’t actually need a mortgage to become a homeowner – you can create a beautiful home that’s more desirable than a two-up-two-down. I think one of the budgets was £5000 for an entire build. Obviously not everyone has £5000 in their pocket right now, but it’s easier to scrape together £5000 to make a house than it is to save £37000 and get in debt for the next 35 years.

I think it’s a joyous and celebratory thing – we’re saying don’t give up hope – think differently. We are a nation of people who are getting braver and more prepared to think out the box – I think we have TV and shows like Grand Designs to thank for that – and I think this show is going to open up a lot of people’s minds. I can’t wait.

 What role do you play in the show?

I can’t ever escape upcycling because that has become my thing – it’s what I do so I can’t help but give people that sort of steer towards reusing materials, and also the aesthetic it gives – it tends to look a lot nicer! So I think a few of them have taken onboard upcycling for financial reasons but also because it gives a really nice bespoke, warm look and feel.

One of the joyous things about all of these builds is that they are so unique. It seems such a shame to build a really unique structure and the fill it with standard chipboard furniture that all looks the same. If you’ve created a bespoke home that represents you in every way, it would seem a travesty not to then personalize it with furniture and material that reflects you and your personality. I think they’ve taken all of that onboard. The people we’ve been liaising with are all naturally quite open-minded, forward-thinking people. To be going mortgage free and to be moving your family into a double-decker bus, you’re probably quite forward with your taste.

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