Of all the lessons lockdown has taught Londoners, the fact that flatmates can be hell is surely high on the list.
Social media is awash with complaints from young renters stuck in spaces far too small to live and work from, with flatmates who refused to socially distance, creating a generally fraught and stressful atmosphere.
New research by the London School of Economics finds that well over a third of people surveyed, or 37 per cent, worked from their bedrooms during lockdown and almost half — 46 per cent — said they didn’t have a suitable place to work from home.
The study also reported that four in 10 had suffered from noise and a lack of privacy.
How much does it cost to buy a home on your own?
A study by communications company Motiv suggests the starting price for total privacy is £225,000, although in parts of the capital this skyrockets to an average £470,000.
Motiv pinpointed not only the average cost of a one-bedroom starter home in every London borough, but also how much you would need to earn to live there. The study assumes borrowing of up to four-and-a-half times annual salary, and that buyers have already saved a deposit.
Most affordable choices are in outer east London where a salary of £45,000 is enough to get on the ladder in Redbridge. In neighbouring Barking & Dagenham £46,000 is enough to pay the mortgage on a modest home. Bexley, on the fringes of Kent, is accessible to those earning £48,000.
Five London boroughs where you can buy a home with a salary of under £50,000
|London borough||Average price of a first home||Required salary to pay mortgage|
|Barking and Dagenham||£230,000||£46,000|
At the other end of the scale, a Kensington & Chelsea address requires earnings of £94,000, while living in Westminster is limited to those earning £92,000. And with average starter home prices in these boroughs close to £500,000, buyers will also need a deposit of around £50,000.
Mark Ruffell, head of sales and lettings for Knight Frank in Woolwich, said prices for a one-bedroom flat vary widely.
You could pick up a modest purpose-built flat for around £300,000, requiring earnings of about £60,000, or, if your salary is into six figures, spend around £500,000 on a smart new home in the waterfront Royal Arsenal Riverside development.
If this is beyond your means you could buy a “micro flat” or studio apartment. But Ruffell has his doubts about the wisdom of this strategy.
“There is definitely much more of a market for what is called a “studio suite” with a defined, separate sleeping area,” he said. This kind of property tends to measure around 400sq ft and, in Woolwich, would cost from £275,000.
A smaller studio, of say 300 to 350sq ft might be fine for you, but Ruffell says that getting one sold once you have outgrown the space can be “tricky”.
On the other side of London, Julian Kroll, a director of Dexters estate agents in Acton, says first-time buyers could bag a second-hand purpose-built one-bedroom flat for £250,000 to £300,000, or a more glam new-build flat in a scheme such as Acton Gardens from £440,000.
Kroll says first timers often use Help to Buy to unlock new homes, as it cuts the deposit down to five per cent. The stamp duty holiday is another cut to entry prices.
Share ownership, but don’t share your home
The other main option to those priced out of the market by their single status is to opt for shared ownership, buying from 25 to 40 per cent of a new-build home with the rest usually owned by a housing association.
To qualify in London, you must earn less than £90,000.
If you were buying 25 per cent of a flat worth £600,000 you would need a 10 per cent deposit of £15,000 and an income of around £30,000 to acquire a mortgage.
Each month, as well as mortgage repayments and service charge, you pay rent to the housing association to cover the portion of the property you don’t own.
Some buyers shy away from the idea of owning a home yet still paying rent, but the rents are set to ensure buying is not more expensive than renting something similar in the same area. And, of course, nobody is going to raid your shelf in the fridge.
How Help to Buy can assist
David McMillan, 36 moved into his first home, a £465,000, two-bedroom flat at Trinity Walk by Lovell Homes in Woolwich, last October.
He managed it with a blend of Help to Buy, self-control and an above-average income.
David, general manager at an industrial cleaning firm, led a “monastic” lifestyle to save up, cooking at home and cutting out drinking, holidays and new clothes. “It was so boring,” he says.
Within a year, with a few thousand pounds he had saved in an ISA, he’d raised £27k deposit.
His Help to Buy Government equity loan covered 40 per cent of the purchase cost and his mortgage is £250,000 — five times his salary but, with low outgoings and a good work history, it was easy to get a loan.
David’s aim was independence but a lodger could help cover his £800 monthly.