I am currently taking a healthy interest in property prices. To be more precise, the impractical, sky-high price of London property, coupled with our need to upsize in the next year or so. Watching all the property programmes? Constantly looking at Rightmove? Yep, that’s me…it’s fair to say it’s something that’s on my mind a lot.
So it was pretty timely when Shelter dropped me a line last night about its latest research conducted to highlight the extent of the UK’s dysfunctional housing market. Shelter analysed the cost of a typical weekly shop for a family of four based on house price inflation since 1971 and found that the average family’s weekly food shop would cost a pretty shocking £453 if food had risen in line with house prices over the last 40 years.
Back then the weekly shop cost £10.40, and the average home £5,632; can you imagine? You could put that on a credit card now. By 2011 the price of the average home had shot up to £245,319 – over 43 times more expensive. The research highlights one of the many challenges faced by modern families in Britain today, with more and more people renting across the capital due to being locked out of the housing market. Shelter is warning that home ownership is becoming unaffordable for millions of young people and families who, despite working hard and saving up, still can’t get their foot on the ladder.
I can well believe it; we are incredibly lucky that we are already on the property ladder, having been able to buy a flat a while ago, but know lots of people that can’t and won’t even consider anything other than renting at the moment.
But we’re close to outgrowing where we live, lovely as it is, and while living on the top floor of a building with no lift has been annoying but passable with one baby, it would be impossible with two. So we’re currently facing the London conundrum of potentially being priced out of the property market; prices for a flat with just one more bedroom in this area, or child-friendly areas around here, are a whole lot more. And a house? Forget it. And it’s not exactly much cheaper further out, and then further out again we’re approaching the commuter belt where prices are exactly the same as London anyway.
And while we could borrow more money, we don’t want to be in a precarious and potentially risky financial position where we’re crippled forever-after by huge mortgage repayments. Especially as I’m now only working part-time so I can be with Eliza as much as I can.
We will never see the kind of financial benefit the previous generation did with property, and it really irks me that elsewhere in the country, we could buy a 3-4 bedroom house with garden for what we paid for our flat.
I know you could say that we chose to live in London (true, but we’re tied close to here with work, don’t want to spend hours and hours commuting, and it’s where our lives and all our friends are) or that having good jobs and London salary weighting means we get more money to compensate (but we’re already dealing with nursery fees that are higher than the rest of the country, and unless you work in working in banking-type jobs you’ll never be able to afford houses priced for banking-type wages).
I also know we’re all lucky to even have somewhere to live as lots of people Shelter support don’t, but the report makes for fairly grim reading. So what’s the answer? I have no idea, but will gladly listen if anyone does. Or if anyone can tell us nice, child-friendly areas to buy reasonably priced houses in or within easy reach of London then that would be great…
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