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Pippa O'Connor: 'I regret buying a home and not renting'


Pippa O'Connor

Pippa O'Connor

Pippa O'Connor

ONE of Ireland's top models, Pippa O'Connor, has warned other young 30-somethings not to get sucked in by pressure to tie yourself to a mortgage.

The 30-year-old, who bought a home in Co Meath five years ago with her husband, RTE star Brian Ormond, said she now regrets her decision to buy.

"If I could go back again I would definitely rent instead of buying," she told the Sunday Independent.

"If you are young, you are not going to want to stay in the same spot forever. It's a massive financial commitment. If you get fed up, you can't just go somewhere else so easily and move on."

Pippa recalls how she, like so many other young Irish people of the same age, came under huge pressure to buy during the manic Celtic Tiger property splurge.

"It was embedded into people's heads: 'If you have money then put it in bricks and mortar'. It was in my head too and I still don't know why. I don't know why we are all obsessed with home ownership. If I was doing it again, I would rent because you can move on, your lifestyle and your tastes change and it isn't nice to be chained to one place.

"Some people who bought are going to have to stay there because they won't be in a position to get out of it."

She now gives this advice to friends: "I would tell them that to rent is not to throw away money. It's a much smarter option unless you are really ready and in a good financial situation. I would say don't do it unless you really know what you are doing.

"I don't think there is anything wrong with moving towards the renting market on the continent."

The model mother-of-one believes people are now questioning the belief that a mortgage is an essential next step in life.

"I think my set are definitely changing. Among my peers it's OK to rent now," she added.

"Years ago everyone said 'oh, buy your own house, buy your own house!' even if it was a little dog box apartment. Why? What's the point? It's an Irish thing and I think we are going to move away from it now. I hope we are."

Speaking about the pressures young Irish 30-somethings now face, she added: "Everyone wants it all. You want to own a house, you want to have a husband, you want to have a baby. But you want to a career, too. It's hard to do everything and I think women especially put themselves under a lot of pressure to try and get it all.

"It's like, 'oh, if I don't have a child by the time I'm 35 I'm old and you're not. It's definitely challenging."

The Kildare native, who runs her blog pippa.ie and a new styling service, Pippa's Fashion Factory, also spoke for the first time about coming to terms with the death of her mother Louise Mullen last October. Louise passed away suddenly at her home in Johnstown, Co Kildare. It is believed Louise, the daughter of rugby legend Dr Karl Mullen, suffered a heart attack. Pippa says she is still living through the initial stages of shock as she tries to comprehend the huge loss.

"I was at home with Brian and my uncle rang him to break the news and then he told me," she calls. "I heard the words, but it didn't really sink in. It's still really hard to comprehend to be honest. It's only been three months. I lived with my mom, just the two of us, for a long time. I was five years on my own with her until I was 23 so we were very close. As I grew older we became more like sisters. She would ring me and tell me she wanted to get a top like mine or highlights done in the same way. She was a character. She was a very witty, intelligent and glamorous woman who was kind to a fault."

Pippa says her young son, Ollie, is helping her through the pain.

"He has been a life saver because you can't stay in bed or wallow - you have to be a mother. But you could be fine until you bring him to creche and then you're driving home on your own and it completely hits you.

Or out Christmas shopping and I'll say 'I'll get that for my mom' and then all of a sudden you remember that 'oh my God, she's not here'. You can't comprehend it unless you've been in that situation. I still go to pick up the phone to call her."

But she says the pain of her loss has made her stronger. "It makes you realise you can't put things on the long finger. That work isn't the be all and end all. And you have to stay close to the people who are important to you."

Sunday Independent