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To wonder how ordinary people can afford to live in London?

240 replies

Rhine · 13/08/2015 21:50

By ordinary people I mean those of us who aren't millionaires, oligarchs and trustafarians. Obviously there must be ordinary people living there, but how on earth do they afford it? To buy there is eye watteringly expensive, so I suppose they must all be in rentals but then the rental prices are bad enough.

To get things in perspective you could probably get a five bed detached with land attached for the price of a small one bed flat in central London.

Pardon my igorance on this matter but it's always baffled me. Where do all the taxi drivers, shop workers, hotel staff, police, fire personnel, doctors, nurses etc live? Do they live in social housing, or are they miles out and commute in every morning?

It's a bit hard for a small town girl like me to get my head around.

OP posts:
formerbabe · 13/08/2015 21:52

They live further out.....Zones 4 outwards then into Kent, Essex, Middlesex etc

RandomMess · 13/08/2015 21:53

They really don't, it's bloody horrendous many rent and receive partial housing benefit despite all adults working FT in reasonable pay.

CityDweller · 13/08/2015 21:55

A lot of people have been living here for a long time -(e.g. my friend's parents live in a multi-million pound house in Primrose Hill, but they bought it in the 1960s for a couple of grand).

A lot of people make big compromises on the size and location of property to be in the capital.

A lot of people managed to buy before property went completely insane in the last 5-10 years - got on the ladder as recent uni grads, for e.g., and have traded up as their incomes went up.

I think a lot of key workers and other 'lower' income workers such as shop workers, etc, work some distance out. Presumably some live with parents/ family. Others share flats, etc.

CharlesRyder · 13/08/2015 21:56

I once saw an article about the number of Fire Service staff who live in Wales and commute into London for shifts, sleeping over in the fire stations.

TiredButFine · 13/08/2015 21:56

They live in social housing
They live in their family home bought years ago
They live in shared housing - a parent and child renting a room and sharing the kitchen and bathroom with other renters
They share a rented room with one or two others
They live in an illegal dwelling (beds in sheds)
They squat

CityDweller · 13/08/2015 21:58

But anyway, I live in London and none of the people I know are oligarchs or 'millionaires'. Some people do have some financial support from family/ a bit of 'family money', but no one I know is 'wealthy' or 'rich' in the stereotypical sense of wearing designer clothes, drinking champagne and flying first class. I would describe everyone I know in London as 'middle class'.

pumapants · 13/08/2015 21:58

We don't. A LOT of people live with 4+ people. I know at least 4 married couples off the top of my head who live in a house with other people.

CityDweller · 13/08/2015 22:00

Sorry - that should read everyone I know in London would describe themselves as middle-class or working-class. (i.e. I don't know anyone who'd be called 'upper-class'). But I'm not sure how much any of that means anymore.

chanie44 · 13/08/2015 22:03

I grew up in zone 3 and am mid 30s.

Many of my peers either live in local authority properties, or moved out of London, but still in the South East.

Some of my uni friends lived in London, but moved out when they were going to settle down. They all lived in houseshares, but I guess you don't mind so much when you are young.

I think London can be cheap, if you know where to look and it was much cheaper than where I lived at uni. Rent is expensive, but you can offset this against cheaper living eg a month travel card costs £140 and my children can travel for free. I can take them to the museums which are free and we can get lunch away from the tourist areas for tenner.

Howcanitbe · 13/08/2015 22:05

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BigFoxLittleFox · 13/08/2015 22:05

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southlondonbaby · 13/08/2015 22:08

We now spend over half our income on rent in a shared house in Zone 2 south London, where I'm from. I do love London but we will have to move away next year when the landlord sells (third time this has happened).

It's harder to save here, very hand to mouth. We earn average salaries and everyone we know has some jobs on the side too.

StonedGalah · 13/08/2015 22:11

We bought almost 5 years ago and it was pure luck. We have a 2 bed house and luckily dc2 is dd2 so we won't have to move for a bigger house.

We also bought in an area lots of people said not to that has improved a hell of a lot in that time so we are actually happy to stay.

Lots of my neighbours are council tenants who are professionals and tbh the only reason l know they are council homes is a lot have had their windows upgraded. They look after their houses as if they were in fact their own.

Howcanitbe · 13/08/2015 22:12

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nonameatall01 · 13/08/2015 22:13

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owlborn · 13/08/2015 22:14

In my experience, Londoners have a very different idea as to what constitutes a reasonable quality of life.

Of my current friends there, I know of two couples sharing a flat - each have a room, share kitchen, and bathroom and sitting room. They are professionals in their thirties. I know of another three people (one couple, one single person) also in a house share. The vast majority of singles live in rented rooms or flatshares.

I know no one who has a dining room or a spare room in zone 2 or 3. I know a lot who have chosen to sacrifice time for space, and have nice houses in zone 6 or outside and spend 1 hr + on their commute.

IHopeYouStepOnALegoPiece · 13/08/2015 22:15

We move back in with our parents

CityDweller · 13/08/2015 22:23

Howcanitbe I don't think it ever will equalise. The real problem in London now is the 'ghost buildings' - i.e. an overwhelming amount of new building of 'luxury' or 'executive' apartments being sold at £1m to foreign investors who never actually live in them. It's really killing off some areas, in terms of community and means that there will always be a demands for stupidly overpriced property (unless the govt does something to stop it, which they won't).

When I left uni 15 years ago it was completely feasible to move to London, live in a shared flat (with your own room) in zone 2 with mates and live on a starter salary. I shudder to think what it'll be like by the time my DC are leaving uni in 20 years time.

newname12 · 13/08/2015 22:24

I manage by having an interest only mortgage.

Plan is to sell up and move to a smaller property, or move out of London, with the equity. Once the dc are independent.

There are ways.

DinosaursRoar · 13/08/2015 22:25

We used to rent in London but moved out nearly 6 years ago when buying as we couldn't afford a house, only a small flat, and decided to buy a house in kent instead.

A lot of people commute in from towns like ours, or further out. It's not only banking staff who get on the trains in.

Of my friends who are still living in London, they are the ones who bought their first place more like 15 years ago, but still live a "smaller" lifestyle than they would if they've joined those of us who moved out.

Or they are the friends who earn much more than you'd think (again, it's not as obvious as they are lacking many of the trappings people earning huge wage outside of London have like big houses and sports cars as everything is sacrificed for the mortgage).

Or they aren't "settled down" yet, still renting, some single friends are in house shares still in their mid-30's, which outside of London would be odd.

I'm sure I read somewhere that the number of people in London doubles on work days from the numbers commuting in from outside the city, does seem likely to be the case.

(And every black cab driver I've ever ask about it lives in Essex)

Howcanitbe · 13/08/2015 22:35

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Sorka · 13/08/2015 22:41

I have a lot of friends who bought 5 or more years ago before prices went bonkers. A surprisingly large number of my friends and colleagues seem to have been given a big chunk of cash from their parents. Some (most?) of my friends have enormous mortgages.

I make a decent wage but am single and have no family money, so London living is out of the question for me. I seriously considered moving to London a few months ago, but can't afford to buy centrally enough to justify moving. I could stretch to renting a one-bed but that would wipe out all my money and I wouldn't be able to save anything for the future. I can't bring myself to go back to house-sharing, so it's an enormous commute for me.

Even my friends who already have places are now struggling because having children means they need to move to bigger places but they can't afford to do so without having a massive commute and never seeing their kids. People seem to be moving further and further out. I think London is storing up massive problems for the future.

OldRoan · 13/08/2015 22:47

The problem with 'buy to leave', as DP and I are finding out, is with the big development towers. you to have to buy off plan or they go to these mystery overseas investors. But because you have to buy 12 months before the property is built you can't get a mortgage, so it is a massive gamble about the property market.

whois · 13/08/2015 23:01

Well a couple with incomes of £35k each and no kids can quite easily live in a flat in london together. So like, 2 teachers, a ace kid admin worker and a fireman, etc.

You cut your cloth according to your income. Don't have to live here if you don't want to.

Jewels234 · 13/08/2015 23:22

DH and I have a combined income of £120k, no debt, and a deposit of £150k. We have just realised that we would rather not spend that on a depressingly small house that needs to be completely renovated and backs onto a takeaway in Z4. That's realistically all we can afford. It's unbelievable.

We have just decided that Manchester is the best call. Luckily our jobs can move there without a drop in salary.

I don't actually understand what will become of London as people like us move out.

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