My feed

to access all these features


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:
BeaufortBelle · 15/08/2015 21:56

I went to a meeting in SE13 last year and some of the architecture blew me away. Camberwell was gorgeous much more attractive than Fulham/Clapham.

lemoncordial · 15/08/2015 21:57

Beaufort I find your post baffling. The definition of London is quite clear. If you live in an area that is a London borough. This includes Brentford which is in the London Borough of Hounslow. Worcester Park is a bit more unclear as part of it is in Surrey. But most of it is in Sutton and Kingston, both London boroughs. I find your attitude to living in seven sisters also baffling. It's not bagdad. You don't have to be 'brave' to live there. It's just a place, where people live and get on with their lives.

lemoncordial · 15/08/2015 22:02

I'm one of those people who wonders that about myself! I've lived in London all my life. I want to move to a bigger place so we can have another dc is where we live is already too small with one dd. I can't picture how we can afford to move to a bigger place anywhere in London. But I really don't want to leave London.

BeaufortBelle · 15/08/2015 22:08

I understand what you are saying but think it's a bit more than being about being in a,London Borough. I don't think of much of outer London as London if you can sort of see what I mean. They are the suburbs.

As for Seven Sisters, it was one of the worst places I have seen in London and it felt unsafe. I'm sorry if you find that perception baffling. Perhaps I visited on a bad day.

SE13Mummy · 15/08/2015 22:29

Much of the newer architecture in SE13 is fairly mindblowing Beaufort as in, it's extensive, high-rise, residential and there's no sign of any new schools being built (thanks Government!) to accommodate the children who will live in it! Lewisham is a brilliant area to live in but I'm glad that I won't be applying for a primary school place here (my DCs are already at local schools) as our house isn't within 300m of a primary school.

CustardLover · 15/08/2015 22:51

Brentford's zone 4. Everywhere in London takes a hour to get to: 'twas true when I grew up in zone 2 and true now that's live in leafy zone 3. Londoners born here just suck it up and bring a book

Livingonthenever · 15/08/2015 23:08

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MerryMarigold · 15/08/2015 23:13

(in zone 4 for example) but most jobs are in central London so that's a 90 minute commute


We are in zone 6 (recently moved). Now THAT'S a 90min commute. (But worth it).

LBOCS · 15/08/2015 23:31

We're in zone 5/6 and it's a 30 min commute... It all depends on what the travel links are like, and that's important.

FWIW, London = London postcode. Not London borough of. If it says Surrey (Croydon), or Kent (Bromley), or Essex (Romford) in your address then you're not in London.

ephemeralfairy · 15/08/2015 23:39

They (I) live in a cold damp rabbit hutch in zone four with a dodgy toilet and an even dodgier landlord.

DP has just been made redundant and we have had enough. We are getting the fuck out of London. DP has just signed contract on a really lovely one-bed flat in a buzzy northern city, for half what we pay in London. He will teach supply and I have an 18 month fixed term contract with another branch of my work. We'll give it a go. I can't see us coming back any time soon though if we can find decent permanent jobs.

Have just found out that the landlord has hiked the rent for the new tenants of our London flat by £100. Makes me want to cry.

longtimelurker101 · 16/08/2015 03:39


People said the same about Kilburn in the 70s,80s and 90s, even as close as 2005 it was not that great. Queens Park and West Hampstead were even in the 1990s, all Irish boozing holes and Caribbean take out joints, and dusty old bookshps in WH case. Same as Stoke Newington, Islington etc etc were. In fact there are too many places to mention that have been thought of as hell holes and dives. Seven Sisters is diverse, well connected, has good links with the city.

Just round the corner from where 3 bed houses will cost you upwards of 2 mil, up until a few years ago there used to be a delightful pub called Biddy Mulligans where people collected money for the support of the IRA. Blood was regularly found on the doorstep as you entered.

Also, anywhere out of zone 3 is not really London? Umm, Wembley anyone?

In fact, I'd go the opposite way. Far too many places in Zones 1-3 have become so gentrified that they don't feel like London at all. Upper St for example used to be thriving independent bars, shops and restaurants it had a feel about it. Its all estate agents now, no diversity, no buzz, feels like being in a suburb. Ditto Kensington, Maida Vale, Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Primrose Hill, Walthamstow Village, and so many other places, homogeneous enclaves of entitled middle class Mummies who say things like "anywhere outside of zone 3 isn't really London."

Also, anything outside of the square mile "isn't really" London.

Gah sorry, rant over...

Queeltie · 16/08/2015 03:48

When I lived in London, I rented a room in a shared house. I moved away because even a one bedroom flat was too expensive.

TurquoiseDress · 16/08/2015 07:16

I'm really enjoying this thread!
It has given me a few crumbs of hope that we might eventually be able to buy here & stay in London to bring up our LO and (hopefully) more babies.

We rent a 1-bed flat in SE London (Camberwell area) and have been thinking dreaming of buying our own place somewhere within SE of London.

Very interesting to read about Lewisham- I think this place has well & truly taken off already.
The only new builds available are studios and 1/2 beds for upwards of 250k

We visited some friends there recently- so much building work going on! Do people really want to live in a highrise literally on top of Lewisham station???!

Another thing that really concerns me is the lack of schools to accommodate all these new families being created. My OH and I have pretty much ruled out Lewisham or Deptford for these reasons.

Another place that we've missed the boat on is Hither Green. Lovely but circa 700k for a 2/3 bed terrace is where it's at in some of the popular roads.

I do like the opinions on this thread about compromise and not getting hysterical about the prices!!

I've got a few friends who spent 5 minutes looking and then decided to leave. But each to their own.
I don't think we could live down in Kent/Surrey and commute every day, just for a bit more space.

I think the cost of the train ticket and the actual time spent sat on a train tends to outweigh benefits.
However, it's what you're willing to compromise.

katese11 · 16/08/2015 07:27

I think this is a very pertinent discussion because while "normal people" have been able to live I central London, it's getting to a point where they won't be able to, in some areas. As my username suggests, I used to live in Kennington se11 but left because our mortgage was huge and there was nothing else we could remotely afford. They were building new homes on our council estate for 1.5 million. On a massive, brutalist council estate! ! Now there are hugely expensive new tower blocks everywhere, which are mainly empty. It's destroyed the feel of the area.

We now live in zone 4 - London postcode, London borough, on the London overground....but apparently "not London" ;)

Frowndalier · 16/08/2015 07:59

Agree that travel costs and commute times mean that living further out even on a fast train line makes it not worth it for many. I live in 'outer' london and it's doable but going further would mean shelling out £10-15k for 2 season tickets for an only slightly cheaper house and being very far from the dc during the day should an emergency occur

Alanna1 · 16/08/2015 08:12

There are pockets of London still affordable and the gentrification force is driving those areas up too. Overall I think south london is cheaper. But I don't agree with a poster earlier about seven sisters for example - I travel through SS a couple of times a week as its a fast connection from where I am. Yes I probably wouldnt travel through it alone and drunk at 1am but that's true of anywhere (even a university campus - or sloane square). There are bits near tottenham green too and the newly done up leisure centre. Some fabulous houses too, and nearer than walthamstow. Ditto other parts of Hackneyand haringey. A 3 bedroomed ex council with garden in catchment for an outstanding primary came up for 370k recently.

Capricorn76 · 16/08/2015 08:19

Longtimerlurker101. I totally agree. Although I live in one of the places you listed as now resembling a suburb I agree with all you say. Zone 1 has lost its buzz. During the day going to the parks and museums is amazing but the night time is just full of tourists trying to recapture the long dead famous London nightclub scene. Many Londoners no longer go out in Zone 1 except if they're staying for after work drinks. Londoners don't see the point in making an effort to go to Zone 1 Saturday night when it's stale compared to places like Hackney Wick which is why they're starting up the 24hr tube to encourage Londoners to actually go into central London on Saturday night.

Also restaurants are closing because they don't have sufficient clientele thanks to whole streets full of unoccupied houses bought by the non doms who even if they did live there don't understand London. What they don't understand is that what makes London London is the millions of people of all cultures and income brackets rubbing together to give it a creative buzz.

Much of Zone 2 is on its way to gentrifying itself out of existence as well. The incomers (the Sloanes/Upper middle class people who would've bought in Zone 1 but now can't afford it) successfully getting the cool places that made those areas attractive closed down.

You literally need to get to the Zone 2/3 border before you start to see the buzz, creativity and people that make London such an interesting place to live. I always smirk when I hear people say that don't consider anything past Zone 2 or whatever London as they clearly no nothing about this place and how the next cool area is formed.

I've also been advising people to buy in Tottenham but they won't. They'll say it's too rough then in 5 years time they'll be complaining that they can't afford to buy in Tottenham!

GoodbyeToAllOfThat · 16/08/2015 08:56

Much of Zone 2 is on its way to gentrifying itself out of existence as well. The incomers (the Sloanes/Upper middle class people who would've bought in Zone 1 but now can't afford it) successfully getting the cool places that made those areas attractive closed down.

This is true. I don't know if Fulham was ever considered cool (it crops up in Iris Murdoch's novels every now and again) but it is deeply uncool now and that's why I love it.

stairway · 16/08/2015 09:11

We moved out despite dh loving London ( me not so much)
If you don't own or live in a council flat it feels like a hand to mouth existence.
Unfortunately where we live now rents are rising too as people are leaving london.

MuffMuffTweetAndDave · 16/08/2015 11:13

Good luck with the move ephemeralfairy. Where are you going?

prorsum · 16/08/2015 11:15

I loved to know what cause Beaufort such alarm. Many us manage to pass through SS unscathed.

FreudiansSlipper · 16/08/2015 11:34

I am not sure we have unsafe zones in london

Maybe places you avoid walking in the middle of the night but then I would avoid walking on the Yorkshire moors in the middle of the night and would certainly avoid the Slaughtered Lamb Pub area

BeaufortBelle · 16/08/2015 11:46

I'm happy to tell you. I had a coffee in Costa where someone was asleep, dirty, possibly sleeping rough. At the side of a mainish road there were discarded mattresses, a group of youths who kicked off, a feeling of a tinderbox, extreme poverty and dirtiness. 1.30ish on a Sunday. It felt an unpleasant place to be but perhaps I was unlucky. I hopped on the tube to Highbury &Islington and felt safer and more comfortable but worried about my car still parked there. It was not a place I'd want my teenage dd to be unaccompanied in.

I lived in London from 1981 until very recently so think I know it quite well but I've never before felt quite as unsafe as I did when I visited Seven Sisters and I've been to many places with "reputations". Brixton in the 80s, Kilburn in the 90s. Many people I know are very scathing about Mitcham and West Croydon but in my experience they are cleaner and safer than Seven Sisters.

Just my opinion after one visit I appreciate.

longtimelurker101 · 16/08/2015 11:49

Agreed Capricorn. Around 5 or 6 years ago people openly laughed at friends who moved to Walthamstow, I remember it being thought of as gun crime, tatty markets full of Essex folk etc.

The same people who chuckled then can't get a house in their price range there now and whine about it.

Seven Sisters is not really that rough at all, what it is, is busy, urban, young and very ethically mixed. It may put off the twinset and pearls mob.

Sadly my beloved Kilburn has had some gentrification over the years, with flats on in demand roads now costing £500,000 up for two beds. The High Road still has the buzz though, there is still live music, still has all night shops selling everything from spices to wine. Enough people about at night to walk up it alone on a weekend at a late hour. Luckily we bought when it was a hell hole ( around ten years ago).

wifeofaspiechap · 16/08/2015 12:00

Whenever I watch "Outnumbered" I always wonder how they do it, on a teacher's salary. It appears to be set in somewhere like Chiswick where a house like that would be over a minion quid.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.