What does it feel like to be mortgage free?

Picture of our front door covered with wisteria

Living mortgage free

Paying off your mortgage can feel like an impossible dream.

The sums involved are so huge. With house prices so high, most people have to borrow enormous amounts to get a toehold on the housing ladder. Typically, mortgage loans last for 25 years, but nowadays you can stretch them right out to 40.

For most homeowners, their mortgage is their biggest bill each month. That’s a hefty chunk of cash disappearing from your current account, month in, month out, for decades.

But imagine clearing your mortgage. Shedding that burden. Using the money for something else.

I thought about this recently, because a friend paid off her credit card debt, freeing up money previously used for repayments. The question came up about whether to use the spare money to invest, or towards her mortgage.

Right now, mortgage rates are much lower than historic returns from investing. On paper, the choice is clear: invest those extra pounds rather than paying off mortgage debt. If your mortgage rate is only 2% but you might earn more than 5% by investing, head straight for the stock market!

Trouble is, those numbers are not set in stone. I’m a big fan of investing, but there’s no guarantee that mortgage rates won’t rise, and there’s always a risk that investments might plummet. But if you clear your mortgage, no-one can take your home away.

Personally, as someone in the incredibly fortunate position of having paid off their mortgage, I reckon the decision is more emotional than financial. It’s not just about the numbers. It’s also about how you feel.

Short of a lottery win or massive inheritance, clearing a debt as big as a mortgage takes a long time and a lot of work. So holding on to the dream of what it might feel like, clinging to the vision of living mortgage-free, is particularly important.

Here’s what it feels like to me:

Picture of Wray Castle for my post on what it feels like to be mortgage free

Safe as houses

Safety from life’s uncertainties

Shedding our mortgage brought a huge sense of safety and security. No-one can take away the roof over our head. It’s ours.

Perhaps everything is going swimmingly, with no problems paying your mortgage.

But few of us skate through life completely unscathed by illness, unemployment or relationship breakdown. If your income stopped, how many months could you carry on with your mortgage payments?

Can’t get stitched by rising interest rates

Right now, interest rates have been at historic lows for 10 years.  That’s brilliant for borrowers, but it also means the only way is up.

Currently, you can find Best Buy mortgage deals for less than 2%. That’s tiny!

I’m old enough to remember my parents stressing when mortgage rates hit 15%. Rates soared so high so fast that thousands of people lost their homes, unable to afford the repayments.

I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t predict when rates might rise, and how high. But I do know that making a dent in your debts is much easier when rates are low, and that clearing our mortgage means I’m not afraid of bigger bills in future.

Picture of red skies above cottages for my post on what it feels like to be mortgage free

Fewer storms ahead

Can’t get trapped by changing mortgage rules

Back in the 2000s, I used to write articles encouraging people to remortgage at the drop of a hat.

Come to the end of a mortgage deal? Don’t get stuck on your lender’s standard variable rate, hop onto a new deal and save a ton of cash. Mortgage companies were handing out money right, left and centre. Make a quick call, and it’s all done and dusted.

Right up until it suddenly stopped, broken by the credit crunch from 2007.

Nowadays, mortgage rules are way tighter. You can’t borrow so much. You may need a bigger deposit before you can borrow. You need to show much more evidence of how you can afford repayments, sharing bank account data, ‘fessing up about child care costs, with  greater proof of income. People who merrily hopped from one remortgage to another got stuck when the music stopped. Almost 150,000 ‘mortgage prisoners’ are trapped on higher rates, unable to nab new loans under tighter rules.

So I know that mortgage companies can move the goal posts, and turn off the tap of cheap money. Paying off our mortgage means I never need to worry about rule changes breaking our budget.

Previous post: What does it cost to buy a house?

Freedom to choose different jobs

I stuck with my first job way longer than I would have liked, so I could qualify for a mortgage on my first flat.

But borrowing less, and then clearing our mortgage completely, gave my husband and me the freedom to pursue different careers. With lower bills, we could get by on less money. We weren’t trapped in jobs just to meet our mortgage.

Back in London, I was able to go freelance after maternity leave. Ploughing money into overpayments meant we had a smaller mortgage, so I wasn’t forced to return to a full-time salary.

Moving to Suffolk, and shedding our mortgage completely, meant my husband could go back to working for the charity sector, with shorter hours and less stress. I could continue working as a freelance journalist and then blogger, with variable income and no worries about whether my accounts would meet stricter rules on borrowing by the self-employed. We could both spend more time with our children.

Picture of a turret on a roof for my post on what it feels like to live mortgage free

No turret required

Freedom to use that money elsewhere

My husband and I made the choice to free up time, rather than extra cash, once we paid off our mortgage.

But if you’re happy to stay in the same jobs, slaying your mortgage leaves you with spare money. Suddenly you can choose whether to splash the cash on clothes, holidays and home improvements, salt it away in investments and pensions or hit some happy medium.

Previous post: what does being rich mean to you?

Happier marriage

I’m going to fly the flag for marital harmony.

Money worries are regularly identified as a leading cause of marriages splitting up. Paying off your mortgage removes a massive chunk of that financial pressure (even if it won’t do anything about say snoring, or eating cereal in a particularly irritating way).

For my husband in particular, the only good mortgage is no mortgage at all. So he’s definitely much happier  living mortgage free!


Clearing our mortgage has given us safety, security, freedom and less stress. No sleepless nights worrying where the mortgage money will come from. No ‘what ifs’, concerned about future rate rises, rule changes or the uncertainty of investment performance.

A true entrepreneur might prefer to seize cheap money while they can, borrow up to the hilt, and invest elsewhere.

Personally, paying off our mortgage brought enormous peace of mind. To us, that’s priceless.

Now – over to you. What would it feel like to pay off your mortgage? What are the benefits, if you already have? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!

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  1. 2nd May 2019 / 4:09 pm

    Interesting viewpoint and something to think about. You are not making my decision easy on what to do with my now spare cash! Thanks for the link

    • Faith
      3rd May 2019 / 11:39 am

      Great position to have some spare cash though! Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  2. Tony
    2nd May 2019 / 10:48 pm

    I paid off my mortgage 13 years ago when I was in my mid 40s. Lack of a mortgage enabled me to retrain, take a job that I loved but which was at a much lower salary, and salt away money into my pension. This lead to early retirement at age 57, and I’ve never looked back. I haven’t travelled the world, drive a modest car and live fairly frugally. However, I’m free, not owned by any bank or financial institution and most importantly have time. Prioritising life to pay off my mortgage and invest in my pension was the best choice I’ve made, and can’t recommend it highly enough.

    • Faith
      3rd May 2019 / 11:38 am

      Brilliant that paying off your mortgage meant you could pursue a job you loved! And many congratulations on retiring early. So glad that clearing your mortgage and investing in your pension worked so well. So agree that time is more important than slaving away to fund an expensive lifestyle.

      • Moira Sutherland
        9th May 2019 / 7:19 am

        Paying off your mortgage might be too big a step, start by looking at paying it off early by paying a little extra each month. I looked at paying ours off in 15 years instead of 25 and found it was not much more each month. But to pay it off in 12 years was way to much money . Over the years we were able to put extra payments in when funds aloud and we paid it off in 10 years.

        • Faith
          9th May 2019 / 8:15 am

          Hi Moira, Great that you were able to pay off your mortgage so much quicker. Amazing how all the small payments add up. Did you ever work out how much interest you saved by cutting it from 25 years to 10? Must have been thousands of pounds!

  3. Mrs G
    3rd May 2019 / 5:49 pm

    We paid off our mortgage in 2015 (aged 45) – 8 years early. It wasn’t the most sensible decision financially – investing the money would have given us better returns – but the benefits on mental health of knowing we own our home are huge 🙂 We’ve since had our 2 eldest go to uni and been able to help them (and carry on helping them for the next few years – probably until numbers 3 & 4 are due to go!) We’ve also been paying off the mortgage on our investment property, although that’s getting smaller payments for the next couple of years whilst we save for a big family holiday – 3 weeks in USA for a family of 6 during school holidays is not cheap!!!
    Paying off our mortgage means we have choices and the ability to assist our eldest children without it impacting massively on our life 🙂

    • Faith
      3rd May 2019 / 6:17 pm

      Really interesting point that clearing your mortgage may not have been the best decision financially, but had mental health benefits. Glad it gave you the financial freedom to support your children at uni too. Hope you have a fabulous time in the US when you get there!

    • Eloise
      11th May 2019 / 1:42 pm

      Totally agree with the sentiment regarding mental health. I loved the feeling of security when we knew there was no mortgage any longer.

  4. Eloise
    11th May 2019 / 1:40 pm

    As soon as we could afford to we overpaid on our mortgage; just a tiny bit to begin with, then each year we increased it more. We saved 5 years and 7 months off the term. It’s absolutely the best thing to do.

    • Faith
      11th May 2019 / 2:54 pm

      Amazing what a difference overpayments can make. Saves so much interest!

  5. Chris
    11th May 2019 / 5:21 pm

    Now both in our 60’s, we scrimped & saved really hard for a couple of years in order to buy our first house when I was 21. Carried on with the discipline of saving & investing then paid the mortgage off completely at age 38. This enabled me to change to a less stressful job, walking to work & back in just 30 minutes instead of commuting by train for up to 3 hours a day. Any spare cash was then diverted into the pension pot. After a few years we fulfilled an ambition to resign full time work & go travelling around Europe in a camper van for a few months. Then we discovered that it was possible to work on a casual basis in a variety of jobs during the summer here in the UK, save hard, then go away in the camper & enjoy our winters in the sun. Did that for over 10 years, then took our pensions at 55 & stopped working completely, so now we also travel as much as we can during the summer too. Mortgage freedom is a wonderful thing!

  6. 16th May 2019 / 12:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing a informative post. It is really helpful to everybody. The content in this blog is really wonderful. If you are in the UK and are struggling with debts, you can overcome them safely by availing suitable debt reduction services, & live a debt-free life.

  7. David
    29th July 2020 / 6:41 pm

    Probably been a long time since you looked at this thread but how’s it feeling now?
    We’re in a position of a lovely house and location, but could sell up and buy in a slight (only slightly) less desirable location (same size house/plot) and be with no mortgage. I’m really tempted to do it (we’re 42/41 respectively) as we can then retire much earlier, though not sure if we will.

    • Faith
      30th July 2020 / 7:18 am

      Hi David – Thanks for your comment. Basically we feel even more glad to be mortgage-free since the pandemic. It was a big relief knowing our living costs were lower, when some of my freelance work was delayed or disappeared, and my husband switched jobs (though in the end the new job did happen as expected!|.
      That said, we did manage to find a house we loved in a place we liked. I work from home so spend a lot of time here, and it was important we’d all be happy in the new place.
      Good luck with whatever you decide!

  8. Cathy
    2nd August 2020 / 12:28 pm

    We’re buying a house now and hoping to pay it off in less time than our mortgage deal. However we’ve been told by our mortgage broker that it’s cheaper to not overpay completely due to the cost of storing the house deeds and it would be best to reduce the debt to a point where you only have to pay 1p a month on the mortgage.
    What’s your experience on this? Is it expensive to store the deeds?

    • Faith
      4th August 2020 / 1:23 pm

      I think the deeds are less of an issue than they used to be, as all home ownership is registered electronically with the Land Registry. We don’t actually have any deeds to our house, despite clearing our mortgage, as the paper version got lost somewhere over the years, but we are still definitely the owners!

  9. David
    5th August 2020 / 11:56 am

    JUST payed our mortgage off .. last month !
    25 years of payments.. so it has been … Worked hard to do it BUT NOW….We have a lovely 3 bedroomed house that is owned by US… I am 54 and my wife is 51… so not paying a mortgage in our pension years.. God willing !
    It’s a great feeling and the extra money can go to improvements… holidays and treating our lovely daughter.. who is an NHS Nurse .. It gives us something to leave to our daughter if we are no longer here ! and that is a wonderful thought…

    • Faith
      5th August 2020 / 12:13 pm

      So exciting! Delighted for you at clearing your mortgage after all these years. Must be a big relief not to face any more payments, and knowing your pension won’t have to cover the mortgage bills. Enjoy the extra money!

  10. Em
    27th September 2020 / 5:54 pm

    We lived frugally since 2005 to clear credit card debt, overdrafts and eventually overpay our mortgage (total debt £170,000). There is an opportunity cost of not investing. However I am happy to suffer this for the security of the house being ours. Last weekend we paid the mortgage off 9 years early. Future mortgage payments for 9 years is £74,000 that we are now not paying. At times it felt so slow and at other times the balance would seem to shrink really quickly. We have kept a years combined net salary in savings before clearing the last bit as an emergency fund. I feel so settled in my head knowing that whatever happens we should be ok. At worst we can downsize. It is worth the perseverance and effort and I would rather own our house than have invested the money. We didn’t watch every penny but we made sure every penny counted. Well done to those who have done this and for those in the process keep up the hard work.

    • Faith
      28th September 2020 / 8:31 am

      Congrats on clearing your mortgage so early, that’s a major achievement. As you say, there’s an opportunity cost for using your money that way, but it’s hard to put a price on the peace of mind from knowing your home is you own.

      • Julia
        8th January 2022 / 7:34 am

        At the beginning of last year I came up with a plan to try and reduce our mortgage by 10 years (had 20 on at the time), so have been overpaying each month – that made me feel good knowing I was focusing on the long term goal. After losing a family member last year I have just learnt that I am a pension beneficiary which is going to wipe that mortgage out – feels very bittersweet and ironic (which the family member would really find amusing) as for years I was telling them they should just pay off their mortgage (had a small mortgage and the funds to do this) but never felt the need – just goes to show how different people approach this even from the same family. However bittersweet it will feel, I can’t wait to have the security and freedom to stop being a slave to the salary even in these circumstances

  11. 14th October 2020 / 1:55 pm

    Amazing post, I really enjoyed this blog. Thanks for your sharing. Keep more like this.

  12. James
    28th October 2020 / 8:46 pm

    Incredibly fortunate to pay off the mortgage 12 years ago. I still remember the day I walked into the bank, asked for the balance and was able to clear it off.
    I left the branch, got on a bus home and was very emotional and full of joyful tears. I have always been a bit of a worrier so for me the decision was straightforward. The feeling of waking up in the middle of a cold winters night and knowing that whatever happens the roof over your head can’t be taken away by anyone is priceless for me.
    I am now 50 and now work part time doing things I enjoy, as well as investing and building the pension pot.

    Good luck to everyone, the slog really is worth it in the end.

    • Faith
      29th October 2020 / 8:14 am

      Hi James,
      Thanks for commenting and many congrats on clearing your mortgage. Can really appreciate the relief and peace of mind, knowing no-one can take your home away. Great that with no further mortgage payments, you’ve got extra cash to pay into your pension and investments. Good luck for the future!

  13. Andrew
    26th November 2020 / 11:46 pm

    Great blog and wholeheartedly agree with your comments. It’s made our life so much easier becoming mortgage free. My wife and I were 42 when we were fortunate to do be able to do this 8 years into a 25 year mortgage. (We put 40% deposit down after saving hard when young) and then 10% overpayment yearly with a lump sum used to pay the balance off. Champagne time when we received the letter to state ‘your home is now yours’.What a nice feeling especially given this pandemic that is upon us now (not known at that time!)
    My wife and I do still work full time but it’s a good feeling knowing should the worst happen we would have a home that no one can take from us..
    My tip to anyone reading is to try overpaying 10% annually (if you can) as it saves so much in interest charges and really chips away at the overall owed balance.
    Our children are now both at university so we can really help them financially but continuing to put our excess money into pensions and savings is our current drive and seeing good gains already.
    The next goal is to hope we can retire between 55-60 and enjoy life without having to worry.

  14. Frank White
    8th February 2021 / 8:13 pm

    Thank you for this post, a great read! My wife and I are both 34 and due to pay off our mortgage in 3 weeks time! I will admit to binge reading these types of posts recently as I’m so excited to pay it off! My work is very stressful and I’m looking forward to the opportunity of perhaps changing jobs in future without the fear of losing our home.

    • Frank White
      13th April 2021 / 7:34 pm

      Just as an update to anyone who may be interested. My wife and I paid off our mortgage last month as planned and well… what an amazing feeling that was! I’m still stuck in my very stressful job but I constantly remind myself that our family is debt free and will never lose our home. This gives so much peace of mind. Good luck to anyone striving to clear their debt. It’s worth it.

      • Faith
        22nd April 2021 / 11:48 am

        Many congratulations Frank! The peace of mind really is priceless

  15. Sarah Howorth
    27th February 2021 / 6:12 pm

    I love reading these types of blogs. I’m 44 my husband is 50 and we are due to pay our mortgage off March 2021. We got a mortgage on our home back in 2003 over a 25 year mortgage. Over the years we have made overpayments even if it’s £10 here £50there. Any spare money went on the mortgage debt. When the last payment goes out to make us mortgage free we will have paid off the mortgage 6 years earlier.
    It’s going to be the most fantastic feeling knowing that no more money is owed to the bank and finally after making cut backs here and there it will have all been worth it.

    • Faith
      9th March 2021 / 8:20 am

      Wow brilliant paying off your mortgage six years early – but you saved a ton of interest. Hope you get to enjoy the savings!

  16. Allison
    1st March 2021 / 12:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Today, I paid off the mortgages on both my rentals I bought in 2015 when I sold my mortgaged house and moved in with my now husband in 2013 who was mortgage free on his home that year!

    I’m so happy, it’s taken me just under 6 years. I’m 58 and I was able to retire last October age 57. My husband retired the year before.

    When I sold my home, we could have upsized and moved to a bit more upmarket area and splashed the cash, but we decided that this plan would bring us more comfort. Now we can do all this and later this year we will sell up and will move to our dream home.

    Instead, I stuck to my budget and lived relatively frugally. I started with 10 year mortgages for both properties age 52. After 2 years, I moved to 6 year terms, overpaid the permitted 10% and invested as much as I was able, into my pension.

    I can’t wait until the mortgage statements arrive in the post – I would love it if they were stamped ‘Paid in Full’

    A bottle of fizz is on ice for later 🙂

    • Faith
      9th March 2021 / 8:19 am

      Many congrats on paying off your mortgages, that’s a real achievement. Brilliant that you’ve been able to retire at 57. Hope you enjoyed the fizz!

  17. 6th April 2021 / 1:58 pm

    My wife and I are 41 and 40 years old. We have been working very hard to pay off our mortgage for several years now. Two months ago we decided to go all out and focus every available penny on getting rid of it. We both hate the feeling of having long term debt. Our plan was to pay it off in two years by living very frugally and basically going Monk Mode until it’s gone. Last week I received an unexpected inheritance completely out of the blue which dashed all our plans. Now we can pay our mortgage off right away (well actually not until November when our current fixed rate ends and early repayment charges are no longer a factor). I’ve not really got my head around it yet but it is an amazing feeling. I have read and re-read countless blogs and watched numerous YouTube videos which show different sides of the debate (paying down the mortgage vs investing). For us, the peace of mind which comes with having no more debt and no longer being beholden to any financial institution is priceless. Can’t wait to make that lump sum payment in November and see my assets outweigh my liabilities for the first time in adult life. Thanks for sharing your views on living the mortgage free life – and for all the comments from other readers. It really is inspirational.

  18. YaZ
    13th December 2021 / 8:32 pm

    Best feeling ever to pay off your mortgage. I cleared mine today, so happy, I am 42. I can turn from being a mortage slave to doing the things I love. I can take my endeavours in life to a different levels knowing that i have a roof above my head. When I die, my family are secured. I can always keep my dignity at work and leave work at the slightest that comes near my dignity. Less financial worries and a happier wife

  19. YaZ
    13th December 2021 / 8:33 pm

    Best feeling ever to pay off your mortgage. I cleared mine today, so happy, I am 42. I can turn from being a mortage slave to doing the things I love. I can take my endeavours in life to a different levels knowing that i have a roof above my head. When I die, my family are secured. I can always keep my dignity at work and leave work at the slightest that comes near my dignity. Less financial worries and a happier wife

  20. guenter.dieterrshagen
    13th January 2022 / 10:04 pm

    Today I am glad that I got a loan from this legitimate company Standard Finance, after many years of financial recession, and I felt torn in the process until I met this great company who helped me with a loan of € 93,000 and all loan was done online. Get in touch with this company via their Website: http://www.standardfinancecorporation.com thank you.

  21. andrew martin
    12th April 2022 / 8:19 pm

    I came late to the house buying party having spent my 20s and 30s travelling and working abroad. My dream was to be able to get a mortgage, then as soon as I had it, the dream was to pay it off! The mortgage lasted 6 years rather than 35 years. Mortgage free at 45 rather than 74 – I’ve got my whole life ahead of me and so excited about the future.

    • Faith
      25th April 2022 / 10:25 am

      Wow amazing that you were able to pay off your mortgage so quickly – all the best for your future plans!

  22. Karl
    20th June 2022 / 2:09 pm

    We paid off our mortgage 10 years ago and it’s the best thing we ever did. Both of us were in jobs we hated so suddenly having this change of circumstance meant that we no longer had to put up with any crap from our respective employers. We cut down our hours and experimented with different jobs and working patterns for a few years, enjoying having the breathing space to stop and consider this for the first time in a long time. Today, we both work in sectors we enjoy – something not possible with a debt hanging over our heads.

  23. 13th July 2022 / 9:04 pm

    I paid off my mortgage this month at 45 so now two homes owned by myself and both mortgage free. I also paid 5 months ahead of its due date.I have not figured out what to do with that privilege yet, one is a town property 3 bed, and the other based in a gorgeous little prime location village. I feel so wonderfully unburdened and unstrained with no worries of ever losing my home/ homes with absolutely such little out goings moving forward and I have dreamed to pay this off for so long. I paid mine in the term of 15 years instead of 25, and although it has been the toughest journey ever. I am is grateful for the blessings. I went from living an easy going life to making payments higher than I needed, but with no regrets because now come what may I know I can work in a good job with high wages or not at all and no one will ever be able to take my home away. in this case both my homes. I have something to leave for my child, and I can sell both and buy one. I have however found that the village location is already in the perfect place for the best of everything has character, charm and may not need to move at all. Whatever the choices they are mine and no bank or company can take those homes away. It is amazing when you realise you can cover all your essential bills for a month in a weeks wage. If you hit a bad patch. that is priceless but if you make good money you can save invest and make sure you live comfortably in your old age and leave something behind for your children and family and those important to you. So paying off your mortgage is absolutely worth it. Every time. Almost always.

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