London first-time buyers: 'How I bought in London at 25 thanks to a side hustle as a maths tutor'

Novica Petrovic at his home in New Malden (Handout)
Novica Petrovic at his home in New Malden (Handout)

With rents soaring and house prices climbing, plus a chunky student debt hanging over him, Novica Petrovic knew that getting onto the housing ladder was going to take radical action.

In July, at the grand old age of 25, the software engineer became the proud owner of a two-bedroom flat in New Malden, Surrey, having devoted three years of his life to saving for a deposit.

“My biggest tip for other first-time buyers is if you have a skill and time outside of your job, find a side hustle to make some extra cash,” said Novica.

“For me it was math tutoring as I’d studied math at university.”

The Kingston East development by Fairview (Handout)
The Kingston East development by Fairview (Handout)

As well as explaining equations and fractions to school kids, Novica, who works for a fintech company in central London, decided to move back in with his parents in Chessington in July 2019.

“I really didn’t like the idea of renting, it felt like I would just be throwing money away,” he said.

“Living at home and not paying rent meant that I was able to save, though for the first three to four months all my savings went towards reducing the debts I accrued during my studies, which was about £5,000.”

Once he had built up a decent deposit Novica was ready to start house hunting and picked an apartment at the Kingston East development (

It ticked many boxes including good transport local links, a resident’s garden, Richmond Park and the shops, bars, and restaurants of Kingston upon Thames up the road, and the modern style he liked.

He used the Help to Buy scheme to top up his buying power and put down a £42,000 deposit on the £460,000 flat.

Now that he is settled in, Novica's advice to other would-be homeowners is to plan ahead – get organised with your finances so you understand all the costs that property buying entails, and how much you will realistically need to save up before you can start looking.

He also suggests ordering furniture well in advance, particularly if they have a long lead time. “No one wants to spend their first few weeks in their new home sitting on camping chairs,” he said.

Kingston East is fully sold, but Fairview has a number of developments available to view via its webite, including its brand new Dock28 development in Woolwich.