'Windowless rooms, a disused care home, old industrial kitchens - these are Londoners' housing options'

"Most people tell me to save my money rather than renting and to buy a home, but this feels so far off," writes Lilly Croucher.
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For me and most of my friends, being a student or young person in London today means deciding whether to pay thousands of pounds for a box room in zone 4 or to move halfway across the world to a new country with the promise of a better life, and maybe a tan.

I know of at least four people who have moved to places such as Australia as they feel wages in the UK are too low and renting in London is so pricey.

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A YouGov poll in 2023 found that 43% of young people in Britain believe they would have a better life if they moved abroad with only 12% thinking they will do better in the UK.

It’s an option I have also considered myself, but my work, friends and family are all in London and it doesn’t feel like the right time.

Living in London, most of us have grown up with the idea that we will never be better off than our parents.

It feels pessimistic to say that but after growing up in a recession, watching house prices increase and seeing the effects of soaring inflation and the cost living crisis, it’s hard not to fall into that mindset.

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Like a lot of people at 25, I still live at home with my parents in Bromley, something for which I am grateful, but I feel stuck.

By comparison, to my mum at the same age, she was married, working in the city, and had built her first house with my dad, something I could only dream of at this point.

I would love to eventually move out with my partner but rent prices in London are ridiculously expensive with the average price for a two-bed flat being around £1,500 per month.

I have friends who have paid £800 per month each, not including bills, for a room in London without the “luxury” of a window. They have both since moved back in with their parents after their rent was increased by almost a third last year.

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I’ve also had friends who considered living in an industrial kitchen converted into a flat and others who are living in a disused care home as part of a guardianship.

Most people tell me to save my money rather than renting and to buy a home, but this too feels so far off after seeing how house price increases have outstripped wage growth.

London is the most expensive city to buy a home in the country, with the current average house price at £528,000 compared to £232,000 in 2005, yet the average wage has not changed in nearly 20 years.

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Lilly Croucher.Lilly Croucher.
Lilly Croucher.

For a lot of young people, becoming a homeowner is completely out of reach unless they have help from parents with a deposit or they move out of London completely.

For me, I feel sad that I will probably be priced out of the city I grew up in, but this is the reality for a lot of my friends.

More needs to be done by the government to help young people get on the property ladder, as well as introducing rent freezes and investing in more opportunities for graduates.

Lilly Croucher is an MA Television Journalism student at City, University of London.

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Project Peter Pan - launched by National World as the UK heads toward a general election in 2024 - aims to use our collective media power to give a voice to those in their 20s and 30s who have negotiated a pandemic, work hard and are ambitious, yet are lost. Frozen out of the housing ladder and stuck in a rental cycle often in substandard accommodation, many are in debt and facing impossible decisions.

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