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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:
Queenbean · 14/08/2015 09:30

I was very lucky that my parents gave me the deposit for a flat, a year ago

I have a large 2 bedroom flat in zone 3 - spare king size bedroom, dining room etc. Its not on a tube line though, only overground which is better for me but why it was a bit cheaper.

I couldn't have afforded to save the deposit myself but now, my mortgage payments are less than my rent was previously

itsraininginbaltimore · 14/08/2015 09:53

The thing about moving into unfashionable parts of east London is that you have to live through the unfashionable unpleasant bit, often for YEARS before it all comes good. I remember when no one but Bangladeshi immigrants, penniless artists, squatters and the odd belligerent or plain bewildered old lady who had either forgotten or poin blank refused to move out to leafy Basildon or Romford Grin in the 1960's lived In the residential areas in close proximity to the City. Many parts were no go zones and Ifrom the bus I used to see virtually every house on some streets with security shutters at the doors and windows. But like everywhere it eventually became regenerated, gentrified and ultimately very desirable, and then horrendously expensive like so many areas before it. But where next? Confused there is really nowhere terribly central left to be the next affordable 'on the up' place, is there? Perhaps Elephant and Castle and new cross etc., but even those are already not cheap and they have a long way to go before they could considered desirable.

It's says everything when people start suggesting Croydon as somewhere okay and affordable to live 'in London' Hmm

Poppytime · 14/08/2015 10:20

I was also lucky that my parents helped me with a deposit about 7 years ago, and with a large mortgage I shouldered myself (well over half my salary each month) I bought a small 2 bed in zone 1. I sold that and made a decent profit about 3 years later (no way I would have bought it for what I sold it for!) and DH and I bought a 3-bed terraced house together in zone 1/2 when we got married - we did stretch ourselves to live here and we have a huge mortgage. I am about to have DC2 and go on mat leave again and we are really going to have to budget once my statutory pay kicks in.

I love living in central London, but as pp's have said, we have compromised on space somewhat, although we have a bedroom for each DC and a small garden, so we have everything we really need. I expect we will be here for 5-10 years max before we move to somewhere with more space outside of London. I know some people don't like the idea of bringing up children in London but I am really enjoying it at the moment - we can walk everywhere, there are loads of of places to visit/activities on, many of which are free or discounted. DC'1 nursery, whilst expensive, is great and a 5 min walk from my house. We have also save money on commuting as I can walk to work in 30 mins or get a bus in 15/20 or cycle in 10.

We were lucky in terms of help/timing, but many many of my friends who are getting married/settling down now can't afford to buy in central London and are having to move way out. We certainly couldn't afford to but the house we live in now. These things do tend to be cyclical though and I can't see this going on forever, it just seems unsustainable how expensive housing is in London. Buying a property doesn't seem to such a big deal in Europe - renting into your 30s/40s/50s/forever is much more normal there. Perhaps that is where we are headed?

ShipShapeAhoy · 14/08/2015 10:25

I was brought up in London but we lived in a 'deprived' borough. Dm owned her own home but when she bought it 20-odd years ago it wasn't anywhere near as expensive. Even now in that area house price increases haven't gone up at the same rate as the rest of London.

Most ordinary workers either live in family homes - a lot of which have gone up in value a lot more than my mum's. A lot rent either alone or rent a room from a flatshare. The latter probably being most popular with 'young professionals'. Then you have shared ownership and other of those type of deals. And of course council properties and housing benefits. Though IMO there aren't anywhere near enough council properties.

babybat · 14/08/2015 11:11

I moved to London 15 years ago for uni, and started renting my current place 10 years ago. The landlord has a big portfolio of properties in the area, and prefers long term tenants, which saves them the cost and hassle of regular refurbishing, voids etc. My rent has not really gone up much since we moved in, but in that time I've gone from being a penniless graduate to having a decent job, as has DH.

We're incredibly lucky that our rent is low and our landlord is good; if we'd had to move every 2 years, as most renters do, we would have been priced out long before now. The low rent means we're saving a good deposit for when we're ready to move out of London. We'd love to buy a house here, but even on a combined income of £70k, it just doesn't seem feasible unless we move out to zone 4.

I get so fed up of hearing people tell me that our area is 'on the up' as the so-called 'affordable' houses being built as part of the regeneration still cost £400k+ for tiny shoeboxes, which we just can't afford. All of the new build flats are sold off-plan to investors in China and Singapore. However, we're hanging on because we like it here, our friends live nearby and it's still affordable for us. I'll be really sad to leave this place.

Coffeemarkone · 14/08/2015 11:18

they live in the houses their parents bought in 1952 for ten and six
They live in social housing
They live in the flat they bought 20 years ago.
They live in shared houses in Zone four to Six
They rent privately and have their rent subsidised by their local council.

It is not that difficult is it?

Coffeemarkone · 14/08/2015 11:20

I even know some people whose rents were set back in days of rent control.
They still exist....

keepitsimple0 · 14/08/2015 11:27

housing benefit. some people "afford it" with housing benefit.

MerryMarigold · 14/08/2015 11:30

There's a lot of ordinary people (like me) who bought in the 90's and are ok now because of house price increase. If you didn't buy, you need to rent, or get housing benefit, or have well paid (but not ridiculous) jobs. You will not be able to be a SAHM though, you will both need to work in fairly good jobs.

newname12 · 14/08/2015 11:43

Well I don't fit in any of your categories.

I don't receive hb, or any other benefits except cb.
I haven't received an inheritance, or money from my parents.
I bought my current house within the last 5 years.
I don't live in social housing.

What I did, that my friends didn't, was buy as soon as I was able. New graduate, student loan as deposit. Not a great area,

Mintyy · 14/08/2015 11:51

I am perfectly ordinary, but we bought our first house together in London in 1997 at the absolute lowest slump in the housing market. We we were both 35ish at the time, earned a joint income of £65,000 and the house cost £108,000 (small 3 bed terrace with paved courtyard garden).

Everything hinges on house prices (and the related rental costs) and there is definitely a crisis brewing in London. Things cannot go on the way they are, I am desperate for some sort of meaningful intervention which will bring house prices down in the capital. And, yes, I do post this with a straight face and an enormous amount of equity in my own property.

Howcanitbe · 14/08/2015 11:59

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VolumniaDedlock · 14/08/2015 12:04

i know 4 kinds of people living in London

  1. those that had a foot on the ladder before approx 2000-2001 (before prices went mental the first time)
  2. bank of mum and dad
  3. social housing
  4. one couple made up of two v.high earners - private doctor and investment banker.
VolumniaDedlock · 14/08/2015 12:07

i also know of police officers commuting from hampshire and even nottinghamshire - not much fun after a 12+ hour shift, although their travel is heavily subsidised

SilverBlur · 14/08/2015 12:28

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StonedGalah · 14/08/2015 12:30

Silver she is betting on house prices continually rising.

RedDaisyRed · 14/08/2015 12:36

30 years ago even we - teacher/lawyer could not afford to live in Central London so like most people (except benefits claimants) we live right out in zone 5. You just commute and people always have done even back to the 1930s and earlier.

Also you have your jam tomorrow and tolerate slums/poor conditions and areas renters will not tolerate. It's a kind of mental philosophy of endurance and not going out to eat and the like which pays off and when it pays off those who didn't have the 10 years of slog or weren't prepared to go back to full time worki after the baby only have had 2 weeks off or whatever are not prepared to do and thus they cannot buy. We reap what we sow.

Coffeemarkone · 14/08/2015 12:39

" how can you get equity in a house if you're only paying interest only "

because house prices always rise.....(fingers Xed for interest only mortgagees)

duckyneedsaclean · 14/08/2015 12:55

I grew up in social housing in zone 3, of my siblings:
One has a 3 bed part buy/part rent in zone 4. Bought 2 years ago, on a modest single salary.
One has a 4 bed 2 floor flat in zone 2, also part buy/part rent. Bought 5 years ago, again on a single salary.
One lives in a housing coop in zone 2, in a 3 bed house.
One moved an hour out of London and has a large 4 bed house with massive garden - and had paid off mortgage.

If you want to live in London you have to expect to pay for it. I'm always surprised by people thinking half your salary is a lot to pay in rent/mortgage. When I started my first job at 18 I paid 40% to my mum for rent/housekeeping - that was in a fairly low rent house with 5 other adults (though 2 retired).

LazyLohan · 14/08/2015 12:57

They don't. There has been a massive exodus of the London born. There are plenty of young people who will accept wages which are low enough to live in terrible conditions, so if you want to start a family or own your own home then you move away.

Teachers on starting salaries and admin workers certainly don't get paid £35k a year. And if you add childcare and travel into the equation on those salaries it's not doable.

I live in Yorkshire and would love to be near my parents and the people I grew up with and the places I know.

It often feels like everybody's community matters except mine....

duckyneedsaclean · 14/08/2015 13:02

lazylohan I'd disagree about that - my sister is a teacher & stating salary was 30 odd grand.

MaxieMouse · 14/08/2015 13:24

We bought outside London (SE, not cheap) when house prices were pretty much at their highest, before the economic crisis. We were earning average wages, nothing special, didn't have any family help either, we just saved for a deposit ourselves, then spent the pre-children years in paying off as much of the mortgage as we could. Then 5 years ago we sold and moved up to London, zone 2, we had a large deposit and much higher wages but still had to downsize a lot. You get used to living in a smaller place and paying more for your accommodation, but for us no commute means much more than a larger house. Each to their own. But it's possible, without the bank of mum and dad, even if you're not mega-rich.

Totality22 · 14/08/2015 13:37

Work FT, earn a decent salary but live in social housing (get no help with rent etc) but we don't pay full market rent. We are on a scheme whereby we pay the % of marker rent the HA calculated based on all the financial information we provided.

So we don't pay a fiver a week but we also don't pay £450 a week which is what a 2 bedroom, top floor maisonette on out road goes for privately

We applied and we're accepted onto scheme with full transparency.

I am university educated, born and bred in London and have worked FT since I was 21. OH is self employed and has worked FT since he was 18.

Totality22 · 14/08/2015 13:40

Just to add we live in zone 1

RedDaisyRed · 14/08/2015 14:05

Also buy before your breed is a useful watchword. My grandfather had to put off marriage until over 40 (he was over 50 when my father came) due to costs including housing costs and that was the NE. My parents were married for about 10 years until they had children again because of money and cost of housing.

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