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As Property Prices Increase, London Is No Longer The UK’s Most Expensive City

High-priced real estate and low wage increases make the UK among the most unaffordable cities to live in Europe.

By Jeff Vasishta February 28, 2017
Editorial credit: JJFarq / Shutterstock.com

So much for Brexit killing Britain’s property market. Prices in the UK continue to rise as if the vote to leave the EU never happened. In fact, London isn’t even the UK’s most expensive place to live, according to Lloyd’s Bank’s annual housing affordability analysis, which compares the cost of buying a home in an area with its average regional pay.

That honor goes to coveted university city of Oxford. It has an average house price of £385,37, which is 10.7 times the average annual gross earnings in the city—£36,033. But Oxonians’ need not think they can trade their leafy cottages retreats for fancy condos in London because the capital house prices are actually still more expensive. The same study saw Greater London named the second least affordable UK city, with the average house price 10.5 times higher than average earnings.

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In fact, Britain’s home affordability is the worst it’s been in eight years. London also had the highest house price growth over the last five years, with average prices up by 57 percent. And let’s not forget that Londoners earn a lot more, on average, than the rest of the country, Oxford included. Overall, if you want a cheap place to live, The UK isn’t it. Cambridge, Britain’s other equally famous university city, also made the top three of most expensive cities as UK property prices continued to rise throughout 2016.

The one two punch of rising house prices and slow wage increases have put more and more Brits on a financial knife edge. In fact, research by Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds 668,000 households unable to afford essentials such as food, heating, and clothes, which underline the precarious nature of work in Britain.

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One section of British society not complaining too much about the house price increase are those employed in the real estate industry, in particular, professionals such as surveyors whose pay has increased by 7.2 percent according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. That figure exactly matches the rise in house price in 2016, as measured by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, a more telling indication of the economy as a whole in the UK can be seen by the income of realtors, which actually fell by 21 percent during 2016, despite UK wages inching up last year by 2.6 percent. Compared to the increase in property prices, and rents, which are the highest in Europe, though, Britain is not a place to save money. Another reason so many Brits are praying that Brexit doesn’t actually come to fruition.

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.
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