Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Crazy London Rents
The New York Times -- which, echoing the conversational preferences of all New Yorkers, is obsessed with urban rents, apartments and real estate -- has realized that rents in London are even crazier than those in the Big Apple.
"The cost of living in London is now so high that it takes nine-tenths of an average person’s income just to cover the rent for an average apartment, never mind luxuries like, say, food or clothing or taxes," wrote Dan Bilefsky in a recent "What in the World" column. London's residential rents are the highest in the world, Bilefsky reports, citing global real estate firm CBRE. The average rent for a "typical" two-bedroom apartment is £2,083 a month (about $3,020).
When you put it like that, it does sound insane, doesn't it?
But when you're part of the urban economy, everything is ramped up to another level. It all costs more, but ideally, employees are also paid more. I haven't worked out what percentage of our income goes to rent but it's substantial. We pay slightly more than that average cited above, because of our neighborhood and our biggish garden. But it's certainly no crazier than when I lived in New York and paid something like $1,500 a month (I think -- I can't really remember now) for 400 badly-lit square feet.
It's just the way of the city.
What frustrates me, both in London and New York, is the propensity for foreign investors to buy residential units that they're never going to rent or live in. They just want a place to park their money, and so lots of units -- especially in newer buildings -- wind up dark and empty. This distorts the housing market in crazy ways, leaving people who actually have to live here competing for fewer flats.
There oughta be a law!
(Photo: A cafe in Shoreditch, East London, last month, with artwork by Thierry Noir.)