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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:
PseudoBadger · 14/08/2015 19:35

We (me, dh and 2 DC) live with my parents in their 3 bed house. It's shit.

PseudoBadger · 14/08/2015 19:36

That's in zone 4/5 and I work in central London.

achieve6 · 14/08/2015 19:46

I've lived in zones 4 and 5 and 6

The rental properties I lived in were bigger than what I ultimately bought

The shortest commute I've ever had is an hour - always worked in central London

that's pretty normal btw

now prices are so high, if I tried to buy property in my zone now, I wouldn't be able to afford it - I bought 11 years ago. I think I was in a the last cohort of people in my salary bracket (average) who could possibly buy.

Deshabille · 14/08/2015 20:36

I live in Z3 in social housing on full HB as unemployed. The area I live could never be described as desirable though the prices have risen to laughable proportions.

Glittery7 · 14/08/2015 21:09

We live in London. Joint income of £45,000. We rent. No chance of a mortgage as no savings for a deposit. We live here as DP grew up in London and his children live here from previous marriage. I would love to move back up North.

Glittery7 · 14/08/2015 21:10

We live in zone 3. 3 bed terrace, £1080 pcm rent.

Glittery7 · 14/08/2015 21:13

Our rental is particularly cheap as it has the tiniest kitchen in the world and the bathroom has no bath, just a shower. It's close to our children's school (one with SN's) and my workplace so compromises have to be made.

achieve6 · 14/08/2015 21:19

Glittery, I reckon many Londoners could challenge you on "tiniest kitchen" Grin

BeaufortBelle · 14/08/2015 21:28

WE lived in zone 2, in a nice and large house for more than 20 years. We felt very modest and not particularly wealthy. We moved a little while ago - about 10 miles out in a "naice" neighbouring county. For one third of the price we sold for we have half an acre, six bedrooms, detached, four receptions, various bells and whistles.

Not meant as a boasty post but oddly enough I feel better off out here and far more humble and embarrassed when I give my address in a shop and do it quietly in case the people behind me overhear.

Sounds odd doesn't it but it does provide some perspective. Also our second hand, battered cars seem oddly out of place here too.

UnderTheFloorboards · 14/08/2015 21:28

We bought in zone 5 eight years ago on average salaries, no help from bank of mum & dad. Four beds, good transport, good schools and a nice garden. Even with better incomes we couldn't afford to buy the house we live in today. We will move out in the next few years purely because the DC could never afford to live nearby, and DS1's disability means he has to be close to us.

Glittery7 · 14/08/2015 21:29

I agree but for a 3 bed 1930's house it has an extremely small kitchen. Think 1 bed flat.

achieve6 · 14/08/2015 21:31

BeaufortBelle - a third of the price a mere 10 miles away? I'm pondering where such a lovely place can be. I'm 8 miles away from central London and prices are still nutty.

BeaufortBelle · 14/08/2015 21:41

Ten miles from the outer fringe of zone 2. So not 10 miles from Central London; probably more like 15/16 from Big Ben compared to about 5/6 previously. Makes a tremendous difference. I would never have dreamt it.

achieve6 · 14/08/2015 21:51

BeaufortBelle - I can probably guess.

Sadly the commutable places I liked the look of tended to be places where there was hardly any difference in price because they are in high demand. Balancing it all against SDLT, increased travel and the lack of ability to take a cab home late at night - well, not complete lack but it would be about £70 or something silly - and I figured I might as well stay where I am.

It's okay where I am but like many suburban areas of London, it's gone up and down and up and down in terms of what it's like. It's had some phases of being really rough but that seems to have calmed down a bit thank goodness.

BeaufortBelle · 14/08/2015 22:01

I know and understand. The travelling doesn't take that much longer - we both drive and can avoid rush hour. SDLT wasn't really so much of an issue after the rules changed (not for us anyway). We are beyond the needing to pay for a cab sort of business. I don't mind not drinking any more; DH has a parking space in central London, or we leave before the last train which is a hop and a skip from our home. But 20 years ago I'd have felt the same as you. Gears up to hone gardening skills [skill]

achieve6 · 14/08/2015 22:13

for me the travel wouldn't take much longer either - fast trains etc - but would cost a hell of a lot more.

in reality I'd probably get a car to get around the cab problem - but it's all moot because realistically the trade off, for me, would not be worth the extra room I could get. I think it's massively different if you are a couple or a family though.

Rox19 · 15/08/2015 10:26

I think people easily can to be honest

  • rent a flat
  • buy a flat above a shop
  • move to fringes of Essex eg Romford
  • move to fringes of Middlesex eg uxbridge
  • move SE borders eg Bexley, or Gravesend

Most of these places are on the tube and if not, would be 1hr door to door to most city workplaces.

I often think people become slightly hysterical house hunting in London and give up way to early. Just research prices on zoopla maps and look at what you can get for your budget.
Livingonthenever · 15/08/2015 10:55

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

longtimelurker101 · 15/08/2015 11:10

I agree with the post saying people get hysterical looking for property in London, especially people moving in for the first time.

A friend was moving in, but at first had a set of points that she wouldn't budge from such as:

a) No more than half an hour commute to work for her or DH
b) No more than 15 mins walk from an outstanding secondary
c) 3 beds and a large garden

Basically she set the same standards she had when moving the previous time. Que tears, much wailing and gnashing of teeth until two of us pointed out that the average commute in London is an hour each way, and that once you use that there are plenty of affordable suburbs, think of all the places along the Met line, Piccadilly, Jubilee etc. Zones 1-3 are great, but expensive, its a well connected place you don't have to live there to enjoy them or work in them.

Or you can do what many other Londoners do, move somewhere that is "unfashionable" and wait for it to gentrify. If you bought your house in the 2000s or late 90s there are plenty of places that have doubled or trebled in value, Kilburn, Queens Park, Finsbury Park, Willesden Green, Walthamstow, half of bleedin Hackney etc. It will happen and there are fewer places for it to happen to but just wait it out. The next place will be round 7 sisters.

lemonade30 · 15/08/2015 11:27

Ha @ livingonthenever

BeaufortBelle · 15/08/2015 11:31

I think that once a commute is longer than 45 minutes you are in the suburbs rather than London though. Once it's an hour you might as well move further out and get more for your money and a fast train.

I know people who describe Worcester Park and Brentford as London. Yes, they are in zone 5 (I think) but they are not "London" in my opinion. I think living in London stops in zone 3.

It is true that areas ripe for gentrification are running out though. I visited Seven Sisters earlier this year and you'd have to be very brave to risk it I think even though it's only a tube stop from Highbury & Islington it's more like entering Narnia through the back of the wardrobe than travelling to a different locality. I think my mother used to say the same about Worlds End in the 60s when South of the river was a step just too far

Apatite1 · 15/08/2015 12:56

The only way we could afford our house in London was through cashing in some very good investments and raising a large six figure deposit, servicing the mortgage through high salaries and not having kids till our late thirties. We could have had a mansion and acres of land elsewhere instead of a standard suburban house in London! However, I love living in London and so the small compromise is completely worth it. Others make way more of a sacrifice to live here and I can understand why. It's all about where your priorities lie.

SE13Mummy · 15/08/2015 21:11

DH and I are both teachers, have two DC and have a 4 bed house in SE13. We've been here 14 years, live a 5-10min walk from a train station (not tube) but can be at London Bridge within 20 mins of leaving home.

I'd say we're fairly ordinary but also that we were lucky enough to have a decent deposit when we bought our flat 14 years ago-that was thanks to DH buying a flat (not in London) when he'd started teaching and it increasing in value. By buying in an uncool area of London that isn't on the tube, we were able to use equity to buy the other flat in the property and we now have a decent sized house. But it's taken 14 years. And SE13 isn't for everyone!

BeaufortBelle · 15/08/2015 21:18

Where is SE13?

Mintyy · 15/08/2015 21:45


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