Ask Paul: I'm a nurse - is a pandemic a bad time to buy a house?


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Hi Paul. I work as a nurse at a hospital on Sydney's upper north shore. My husband and I have two young kids and we are living in a rental unit near the hospital.

We are looking to buy a house. However, if we bought a house we wouldn't have any savings left. If we remain renters, we will live comfortably.

We also receive a bit of passive income from our three investment properties, which we don't own outright but they're all positively geared.

paul clitheroe

The house we're interested in is a bit far from my work and my two kids love their school, also near the hospital. I walk them to school and walk to work. I work three days a week in the operating theatre.

I'm just concerned that if we bought a house I couldn't just resign from my job to look after the kids. Which way should we go? It's such a big gamble for us. - Da

Da, I think the pandemic, which was only in early stages when you emailed me, has overrun us here. As a nurse, you are far more aware of this than I am. Your health and the health of your family are the only concern right now.

That said, then we can look broadly at your financial situation. As you are thinking about buying a home, I am sure that means you have a good pot of money. This should be left right where it is as an emergency buffer.

The vast amount of government support should help to protect many millions of Australians, including the tenants of your three properties, but many landlords may well be in a position where rent falls, has to be cut or, in the extreme, may not be paid due to a tenant in hardship.

As we emerge from this catastrophic situation, and in time we will, then it is back to your question. I would love you to own your own home.

When we get through this, I suspect we will have less emphasis on money and more on the value of our own lives, those we love and our community. It may well be that selling one of your properties and taking a less stressful path to home ownership becomes the right course.

But from the Money team, all our readers and me, thank you for the vital work you and your health colleagues are doing.

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Paul Clitheroe AM is founder and editorial adviser of Money magazine. He is one of Australia's leading financial voices, responsible for bringing financial insight to Australians through personal finance books, the Money TV show, and this publication, which he established in 1999. Paul is the chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and is chairman of InvestSMART Financial Services. He is the chair of Financial Literacy at Macquarie University where he is also a Professor with the School of Business and Economics. Click here to ask Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section. Please view our disclaimer here.