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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:
MuffMuffTweetAndDave · 14/08/2015 15:04

Manchester is almost certainly the best call for you jewels. A combined income of 120k will give you a very nice life in a northern city, and with a deposit of 150k you could quite possibly buy outright in a non-shithole. Quality of life for people in your position will be immeasurably higher.

CityDweller · 14/08/2015 15:29

A lot of people also got lucky climbing the property ladder.

We bought first flat in zone 2 in 2007. Sold it in 2009 at a slight loss. Bought another larger flat in zone 2 based on increased income. Got very lucky selling that in 2011 due to 'mini boom' in that area. Bought flat in zone 1 in 2011 the value of which has since gone bananas. There's no way we could afford to buy our current flat now.

Our compromise to live in London is that we live in a small (ex-council) flat in order to live in zone 1. The compromise is worth it to us, as it is to the many many others who own flats on our estate. (None of whom, that I know anyway, are 'wealthy' or 'filthy rich' either).

Lndnmummy · 14/08/2015 15:51

You find a way I guess and have to prioritise. We live in a 2bed flat in converted victorian house in zone 2. I would love to move to Leeds or Manchester where I could give my ds a 4 bed house with a garden...
Hopefully one day I will.
At least once a day we contemplate "moving further out" to afford more space, the problem is that it keeps getting further and further out to be affordable. I dont want to commute for 1 1/2hr each way so we make do in a small flat. If we have another baby it will be a struggle.

Capricorn76 · 14/08/2015 16:08

Off topic but I was having a conversation the other day with some of my other London born friends and we were talking about the difference between how we describe where we live and how people who've moved to London describe it and we agreed that born Londonder's don't really use zones as a description.

If someone says 'I live in Zone 2' I always assume they recently moved to London whereas if someone says they live in Bow that would make more sense to me. I know that's East London but I don't know which zone its in? Probably 2 maybe 3? If I didn't know where Bow was I'd ask the person to list areas nearby till I got where it was e.g it's near Stratford etc. A guy at work told a couple of us that he doesn't count anything beyond Zone 2 as London but he doesn't know London really. He lives in Sussex and commutes to London only visiting top attractions with his kids ocassionally. I wouldn't put any extra kudos on a Zone 2 area than a Zone 3 because some parts of zone 3 are far nicer than parts of zone 2. Also the only time I've ever cared about a zone is at the tube station pre-Oyster card when a 1-3 ticket was cheaper than a 1-4.

Anyway back on topic. I own a 3 bed, bought first flat in 2004, house 2008. No bank of mum and dad, just went to a London uni and lived with parents until I could save a deposit at 26. 'Twas hard living home that long but it was worth it. Rented for 1 year against dads advice and realised he was right and it was a waste of money.

I love living in London, have a good quality of life, DD has lots of friends and places to go as do we. Life is not hard for all Londoners who aren't oligarchs.

There are also still affordable places to live they just aren't fashionable yet. When my parents bought their first place it wasn't in a nice area, it wasn't a nice house but they worked their way up. Now I'm seeing people on the local news complaining about not being able to purchase a flat in Ladbroke Grove as a first time buyer!!

grovel · 14/08/2015 16:11

Maybe the ordinary people living in London are all tube drivers?

Coffeemarkone · 14/08/2015 16:13

I have several friends who live in social housing.
One who lives in her parents old house that they bought 50 years ago.
One who bought a house with her husband about 15 years ago.
They are all pretty 'normal' people tbh.

stripytees · 14/08/2015 16:24

Capricorn people use zones to describe distance from central London. It's fine to live in a nice but not yet fashionable area (in zone 4 for example) but most jobs are in central London so that's a 90 minute commute and costs about £45 per week.

MaxieMouse · 14/08/2015 16:31

Capricorn, no one in real life uses zones to describe where they live, it's just a way of describing commuting times. Of course zone 4 Richmond is nicer than zone 1-2 Tower Hamlets, just like there are massive differences between regions in the same zone. Zone is only relevant in terms of distance to work.

MaxieMouse · 14/08/2015 16:31

oops, x-post

BlossomTang · 14/08/2015 16:35

I work in the public sector which still have some subsidised staff accommodation inl London and is a godsend to junior staff on low wages. Sadly these are now being developed into luxury private flats and staff accommodation will not be replaced. I really fear for public services such as teaching and the NHS in a few years time as so many experienced staff are leaving London as they can't afford to buy a flat/ house when they have dcs.
The London weighting is £5000 and taxed so just about covers the travel card from outside the M25

NarrativeArc · 14/08/2015 16:37

Lots of my peers ( mid/late forties ) bought properties twenty years ago when prices were less silly and banks giving mortgages away. ( I got a 100% mortgage in 1992).

Coffeemarkone · 14/08/2015 16:37

" no one in real life uses zones to describe where they live,"

people new to London do.

Notnownotthen · 14/08/2015 16:48

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ConkerGame · 14/08/2015 17:07

From my experience:
Single, under 35 = rent in a house share
Single, over 35 = move out of London to buy
Single with high salary/couple with combined salary of £90k = can buy a two bed flat in zone 3
Couple without bank of mum and dad, combined salary of £60k (easily done if both graduates) = rent a decent flat
Couple with bank of mum and dad for deposit = can buy a two bed flat in somewhere alright
Anyone who is single and desperate to buy just moves out of London to the home counties and buys a small flat there.

I've been lucky in that I have a high salary and my parents could give me some help with deposit so I've got a two bed in zone 3 despite being single. However I have to live with the fact that my decision to live in London means I live in a two bed flat in an 'undesirable' area, while my cousin bought a 4 bed detached house in the Derbyshire countryside for £100k less than the price of my flat!! But then I would much rather live in London than the midlands countryside so it's a price I'm willing to pay for now! She on the other hand thinks I'm mad! Each to their own.

When we all have kids though we will either have to live in overcrowded places or leave London - I don't know anyone in late 20s early 30s who could afford a place bigger than a 2 bed in London.

Mysillydog · 14/08/2015 17:11

There are 8 million people living in greater London. Most don't live centrally and only a small fraction are rich. We tend to live in the suburbs and commute in. Central areas such as Mayfair are not accessible to ordinary Londoners, but that has always been the case.

StonedGalah · 14/08/2015 17:24

Stripy no way is zone 4 a 90 mim commute? I'm zone 3 and its 30ish mins to central London.

UniversalBagel · 14/08/2015 17:52

We had the luxury of leaving with my mum for a year and a half paying just bills. Got decentish jobs, he made more than me but I was ok making in the 20s range. Saved like absolute mad, no public transport, no meals out, cheapest possible food, holes in shoes.

We managed to save about 40k between us I think. Bought a 450 sq ft place in an ok zone 2 area for 195 and had first Of our DC. Area exploded within a year and we sold for 350. Both worked hard and did decently in our careers so managed to save more.

Bought a 3 bed large flat with a garden in another up and coming zone 2 area for 450 literally days before the area went nuts on property prices. Spent 30 doing it up. Lived here for two years. It is now worth 750.

We were very lucky but also very calculated on area. But we never could have done it if we hadn't had that time to save so I guess we don't count in that sense.

The trouble is that now we don't want to leave the area so everywhere around us is too expensive to upgrade to. In ok with that for the foreseeable future though.

We do have an unbelievable mortgage though and so our day to day life is frugal beyond anyone I know (50 a week for family of five food for the week, no new clothes, holidays, days out etc) We choose to do that because we (specifically me) are so happy in London and I couldn't bear to leave, but I don't know many people who would rather live like this when they could move half an hour further away and have a bigger house and money to spare.

Ultimately I imagine that's what most people are doing, sacrificing all else for the privilege of living in London.

Howcanitbe · 14/08/2015 18:41

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newname12 · 14/08/2015 18:54

I also used the property ladder.

Bought a small flat as a new graduate, in an undesirable area, but close to transport links.

I will say at this point most of my friends openly told me I was insane, tying myself to a mortgage at 21, on my own. One even told me I should wait until I was older, earning more, possibly married, then I could buy somewhere "nice", with a garden.

Well my little flat went up in value, I sold bought a slightly bigger, nicer one. Built a good history with my bank. So when I did get married and need a house, my bank leant me a big, interest only mortgage, combined with the profit I bought the house we live in now, zone 2.

Yes I can't afford to repay the mortgage, but we have good equity and it's way cheaper than renting, so our quality of life is reasonable on a low salary.

Those friends who thought I was insane 15 years ago are now lamenting they can't afford to buy- buy being a 3 bed family home. They could likely afford a small flat, but that isn't what they want/need now. They accuse me of being "lucky" as if I had my house handed to me in a plate.

StellaAlpina · 14/08/2015 19:04

You manage but you have to compromise. We were out with a group of friends last night and the topic moved on to new houses/moving a group of professionals/middle income earners the situations were 'family' houses in the home counties but long commute (2x couples), 1 bed flat in a not nice area (single bloke, well paid), renting from a relative to save for deposit (other single bloke), renting in zone 4 (DH and I, the poorest).

Also expectations are lower re: space I think. We're moving in October and whereas most of my friends in relationships out of London own/rent houses with gardens we'll be perfectly happy with a 2 bed flat and a balcony will be a bonus.

stripytees · 14/08/2015 19:08

Stoned it is for me, I live in SE London and work in Islington. That's taking into account a 12 minute walk from home to station and a 10 minute walk from destination station to office. Worse in the evening if I need to wait for a train at London Bridge.

TheWildRumpyPumpus · 14/08/2015 19:10

What do you mean by 'normal people'? There's a gulf between oligarchs and refuse workers.

DH and I bought our first house in 2010 with a 90% mortgage (having rented for years) for 365k (3 bed semi) and sold it 4 years later for 590k having done a bit of work to it.

My parents still own the same house they bought 40 years ago for 7.5k, it's now worth 650k.

A lot of my single uni friends are still renting in their late 30s though.

GoodbyeToAllOfThat · 14/08/2015 19:27

We bought a house in Fulham in 2005. It was pretty expensive then (slightly out of reach, but manageable) and it about doubled in two years. We put down about a third.

We sold that, stayed out of the market for just over year and bought our current house in late 2008 in a then-downmarket part of Fulham and that's doubled as well.

That's mostly luck, but it took nerves of steel to stay in cash and out of the market for the duration of 2007-2008. We weren't sure which way things would go.

londonrach · 14/08/2015 19:28

They dont..we left and know several people are have.

Livingonthenever · 14/08/2015 19:32

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