I'm a big girl now! Sam Faiers, 21, jumps for joy as she picks up the keys to her new home

By Andrea Magrath

Gleeful: Sam Faiers was skipping with excitement yesterday as she picked up the keys to her new home

The cast of The Only Way Is Essex certainly have their fair share of critics in this country.

But while the TOWIE gang have been ridiculed endlessly for their addiction to all things flash, their interesting take on the English language and their at times cringe-worthy level of basic general knowledge, nobody can knock their ability to turn their notoriety into a pretty penny.

And Sam Faiers is one of the reality stars laughing all the way to the bank: The former glamour model was pictured yesterday picking up the keys to her first home.

The pretty blonde was skipping with excitement as she paid a visit to her new pad accompanied by boyfriend TJ.

While many of her peers will remain at their parents' homes for many years to come as they pay off their student loans or scrape together a down payment, Sam is a proud home owner at the impressive age of 21.

She is understood to have splashed out £400,000 on the three-bedroom love nest for her to live in with TJ.

Home owner at 21: The reality star was joined by boyfriend TJ as she began the moving in process

While the cast of TOWIE were famously paid just £50 per episode for the first season of the cult ITV2 show, Miss Faiers and her castmates have managed to cash in on their popularity with magazine photoshoots, endorsement contracts, personal appearances and starting businesses of their own.

Sam and her older sister Billie were the first of the cast to capitalise on their overnight fame. By the start of series two the sisters, along with their mother and aunt, had opened their own clothing boutique.

After fielding constant inquiries from fans on where they could buy the clothes she wore on the show, Sam took matters into her own hands and sold her favourite labels through her own store Minnie's, located in the heart of the show's homeland, Brentwood.

Setting up home: The former glamour model and boyfriend TJ are to move into the £400,000 love next together

While the Faiers sisters were first, their co-stars are following in the footsteps.

Lydia Bright and Lucy Mecklenburgh have also opened their own boutiques nearby, while Jessica Wright has opened a lingerie store.

Yesterday Sam was dressed down in a pair of ripped jeans and leopard-print pumps, available from Minnie's, of course, and a matching jumper from AXParis.co.uk and navy blazer with fur collar.

Her athletic boyfriend proved that it's not just Essex girls that can brave the cold in minimal clothing; he bared his legs in a skimpy pair of running shorts.

Essex style: Sam ventured out in clothes from Minnie's, while boyfriend TJ proved it's not just Essex girls that can brave the cold in minimal clothing

The couple picked up some warming coffees from a local vendor before leaving hand in hand.

A euphoric Sam tweeted yesterday: 'Busy bee today doing adult house moving in stuff !! Exciting though!!'

Miss Faiers did not feature in Sunday night's season four premiere of TOWIE, but she promised fans that she would be back on tonight's episode.

Back on air: Sam didn't feature in Sunday night's premiere of TOWIE season four, but is expected back on screen tonight

TJ is expected to join his famous girlfriend at some point during the series, after Sam's former on/off love interest Mark Wright departed the show.

Her other ex, Joey Essex, has already been making eyes at newcomer Georgina after dumping his flirting buddy Jessica Wright unceremoniously in the episode one.

The next episode of The Only Way Is Essex airs tonight at 10pm on ITV2.

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