back to top

12 Charts That Explain Why You'll Never, Ever Be Able To Afford A Home

Even if you're willing to live on a goddamn houseboat.

Posted on

In London, it says say, there are only 43 properties that are affordable for a typical young family buying their first home. Forty-three!

In 1997, the average house cost about £96,000 in today's money. Now it's more than £190,000.


The typical London house price in 1997 was the equivalent of £137,203 today. Now it's £382,650. Meanwhile, the average salary in inner London stands at £34,473, meaning you'd have to save every penny for a decade to afford the average property.


Shelter's chart (which you can see a larger version of here) shows that as the number of houses being built has declined since the Second World War, the average house price (adjusted for inflation) has gone up. The contrast has been particularly dramatic in the last few years.

"Each year, we build at least 100,000 fewer homes than we need and the extent of the housing shortage only increases," says the charity.


This has a simple and obvious outcome:

The proportion of those aged between 25 and 34 who own their own home has dropped to barely a third of the level in 2003–4. That means the percentage who have to rent has skyrocketed – hence all the talk about "Generation Rent".

9. That has knock-on problems of its own, because private rental (from landlords) is much more expensive than social (from housing associations or local government).


According to the English Housing Survey, private rental is increasing each year, while the proportion of people in social rented accommodation has remained steady for over a decade at roughly 17% of the population.

For those lucky enough to be able to buy in London, the amount of space per person is actually going up. But for those renting, it's going down – because there's too much competition for decent-sized properties.


Yes, that's a houseboat on sale for nearly five times what the average Londoner earns in a year.

Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Tom Chivers at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.