I’ve just got home from a four day break in London. My brother and sister-in-law are leaving as my brother’s company is transferring him abroad.
I had a lovely time, filled with friends and fun.
But I also became acutely aware that I could never live there as a teacher, most certainly not as a supply teacher.
I just don’t earn enough.
Many of the friends I saw work in sectors where the starting pay far outstrips that of a teacher. By the time they have been qualified 6 or 10 years, they’ll be earning about 5 times that of teacher at the top of the main payscale. Some of them are still renting, finding that even with a good salary, buying in London is all but impossible.
I’ve looked at the prices of studios, one and two-bed flats in Zone 2 only – I know Zone 1 is out of the question! Prices range from £999 pcm for a studio in Kensal Rise, to £1500 pcm for a one-bed flat in Vauxhall. Two bedroom flats (well, we all like a bit of space, don’t we?) start at £1199 pcm in New Cross. None of these prices include either council tax or services. And they’re all the lowest prices I could find, ignoring beds-in-sheds and buildings that look as though they ought to be condemned.
Figures for percentage of income spent on rent vary from 25% to 59%, depending on which source you look at, and where the rental property is located. Taking this as a source, simply because it gives a spread of UK data, I worked out the average salary a renter would need to be on.
In order to pay the prices I listed above, which have to come out of net income, and taking a percentage of that net income being spent on rent as 26.2% (from This Is Money article, 2011 figures), a renter would need to have:
- A monthly net income of £3,812.98, which equates to an annual gross income of £66,576.79 for the Kensal Rise studio.
- A monthly net income of £5,725.19, equating to an annual gross salary of £109,371.20 for the 1-bed flat in Vauxhall.
- A monthly net income of £4,576.34, equating to an annual gross salary of £82,370.44 for the 2-bed flat in New Cross.
Clearly this is absurd. The 2013 figure given by shelter of 59% of net salary spent on rent is far more realistic. Even so, that gives:
- A monthly net income of £1,693.22, which equates to an annual gross income of £25,535.17 for the Kensal Rise studio.
- A monthly net income of £2,542.37, equating to an annual gross salary of £40,520.17 for the 1-bed flat in Vauxhall.
- A monthly net income of £2,032.20, equating to an annual gross salary of £31,517.17 for the 2-bed flat in New Cross.
In comparison, the monthly rents as a percentage of a teacher’s net salary are as follows:
Kensal Rise: 55.29% at M1, 42.52% at M6
Vauxhall: 83.01% at M1, 63.84% at M6
New Cross: 66.36% at M1, 51.03% at M6.
I’ve used the website The Salary Calculator to help work these out. I’ve also used the current upper (M6) and lower (M1) limits of mainscale pay (2014-2015) at Inner London rate to calculate the percentages of income. For the purposes of simplicity, I haven’t included either pension contributions or student loan repayments in the deductions. Factor those in, and the available net income falls even lower.
Unless you’re on the Upper Pay Scale, take on lots of extra responsibility or live far further out than Zone 2 (not helpful if you work in Zones 1 or 2), a teacher is simply not going to be able to afford to live in London on their own. The only way round this is to flat-share.
But even that doesn’t come cheap. A double room in Mile End is advertised for £642 pcm, excluding council tax and utilities.
How do teachers in London manage? Are they mostly in house-shares?
London is a great place to live, I can see why it attracts so many people every year. I can see why bankers, barristers and media people love living there.
I can’t see how public sector workers are expected to do so.
And don’t even get me started on the cost of public transport in London …!
Room available to rent in Wimbledon!