Housing crisis

Young people from Kent explain their thoughts on the UK housing crisis

Around 60% of young people hope to have their own place in five years, but less than half believe this is a reality, according to a new study.

As most people in their early 20s still live with their parents, we asked young adults in Kent what keeps them from climbing the homeownership ladder.

Left to right: Luke, Emma and Kevin Eagle in front of their home in Northfleet

“I didn’t think about moving because of the hardship,” said Luke Eagle, who still lives in his childhood home in Northfleet after moving back there after college.

The 22-year-old is now the same age as his parents when they were saving up and thinking about buying their first home, but says he has no plans to do the same.

He said: “It was just so much easier for them. I didn’t think about moving. I didn’t have a lot of money to save for a deposit and renting just wastes money. .

“It’s a lot less common these days and mum and dad started working at 16. They were at a different stage in their lives.

“They’ve had a few years to save and think about settling down whereas at our age now you have to stay in school until you’re 18. You don’t really have a chance to start saving.

“It’s definitely more difficult. These are just facts, we all know that’s the case.”

Kevin and Emma's first home in Bradenham Avenue, Welling.  Photo: Google Maps
Kevin and Emma’s first home in Bradenham Avenue, Welling. Photo: Google Maps

His parents, Kevin and Emma Eagle, bought their first home in Bradenham Avenue, Welling, aged 26 for £93,000 and put down a down payment of £8,000.

The twin-bed semi-detached is now said to cost around £376,000 according to Rightmove and Zoopla – a 304% increase since 1998.

According to national statistics for June 2022, the average house price in the UK was £286,000, which is £20,000 more than the same period last year. In England, this amount rose to £305,000.

Emma and Kevin Eagle when they were younger
Emma and Kevin Eagle when they were younger

Speaking about how things have changed, Kevin, 49, said: “The deposit wasn’t killing you like it does now. You can save, but getting more than that is going to be very, very difficult.

“I think the problem is that the value of the price of a house has gone up much faster than your salary plus the cost of living. It’s not easy for those who are starting out on their own.”

Emma, ​​49, operations manager, added: “It was just a lot easier, especially for first-time buyers. We went straight to work at 16. Now you have to continue your education for another two years, then a lot of people go off to college which delays your savings for five years.

“If you went to college like Luke did, you have the experience where you moved, but most go back to their parents while looking for a job.”

Lucy, 22, said he was
Lucy, 22, said it was ‘disheartening’ that moving was not financially feasible

And the Eagles’ living situation is not unique. Lucy Streatfield, 22, has lived with her parents in their home in Swanscombe since she graduated from university earlier this year and does not know when she will be able to move out.

She said: “Coming out of college, even with my degree, I knew I would struggle to find a job that paid enough. I had to adjust my expectations to move. It will probably take me a year or so. two to save enough to rent an apartment comfortably, so owning a house is like a dream for the future.

“It’s actually disheartening knowing that I have to put my plans on hold because it’s not financially feasible. After being freelance in college and renting somewhere last year, having to come home and living with my parents indefinitely is difficult.

“Of course, that has its advantages, because I can get meals prepared and lifts to work, but I don’t have personal space and I’ve lost that independence.”

Her parents bought their first home, at 34 Armstrong Close in Dagenham, for £80,000 in 1999, when her father was 23 and her mother 26, and they had Lucy in March the following year.

34 Armstrong Close (middle), Lucy's parents' first home which they bought for £80,000 in 1999 Photo: Google Images
34 Armstrong Close (middle), Lucy’s parents’ first home which they bought for £80,000 in 1999 Photo: Google Images

The two-bed terraced house is now said to cost around £397,000 according to Zoopla – a 358% increase since her parents bought the house.

Lucy said: “At that age my dad had a house, a stable job and even had me soon after. I won’t even be 26 with a flat. It’s really crazy.

“He had just become a newly graduated teacher and got his first teaching job. He was at the start of his 23-year career, and he and my mom were able to buy a house.

“Even renting is too expensive right now, not to mention the cost of living and things like insurance, energy, food and maintenance.

“It’s hard to consider owning a home, even with financial aid, because my college education was so expensive for my parents. Even mom and dad’s bank can’t help us these days. .”

Lucy and her parents, who bought their first home at 23 and 26
Lucy and her parents, who bought their first home at 23 and 26

Nicola Shelley, 22, is in a similar situation. She has lived with her parents in their home in Bexley since she finished university last year.

Nicola’s parents bought their first home in Downbank Avenue, Belvedere, Bexleyheath, in April 1989 for £53,000 with their own savings.

At the time, her mother, an accounting assistant, was 22 and her father, a graphic designer, was 23. The couple previously both lived with their parents, then moved straight into their own home.

Nicola has worked for more than a year in the marketing team of a charity in London. She said: “I expect to live at home for a few more months at least. I was hoping to move out to rent with friends in January, but with the cost of living crisis at the moment, we might be waiting a bit. longer to save money.

“I think I will have to wait at least a few more years, maybe 10, before I can buy my own house. My partner and I are both saving, but we think it will be easier financially to rent a little before moving into the house where we plan to settle.

Nicola, 22, says she may have to wait up to 10 years to be able to buy her own house
Nicola, 22, says she may have to wait up to 10 years to be able to buy her own house

“I think it’s worse now because there’s a price increase in all areas – houses, bills, maintenance – but our salaries haven’t risen dramatically to match that. So we’ve had to hard to find the money to afford to buy a house, and mortgages can be difficult to obtain.

“I worry a lot about money. I feel like I have to save a lot of my income and sometimes I think I limit what I do to make sure I save enough this month. .”

KentOnline reporter James Pallant faced similar problems when trying to find decent accommodation to rent in Canterbury, within budget.

To find out more about the housing crisis facing young people in Kent, we spoke to estate agent Chris Fox, CEO of Fox Estates in Dartford, who said the property market is changing.

“Young people need more time to save for a deposit and the amount requested increases, he explained. “I bought my first property when I was 22.

Nicola's parents bought their first house in Downbank Avenue, Barnehurst when they were 22 and 23 Photo: Google Images
Nicola’s parents bought their first house in Downbank Avenue, Barnehurst when they were 22 and 23 Photo: Google Images

“When I bought the mortgage it was two and a half times your annual salary, but now it’s increased to around seven times. It’s much more difficult.

“I’ve read that experts think prices will fall 7% over the next two years, but they’re still up 11% from last year. The price of property is only going up increase.

“It’s all about money and jobs. Now there are zero-hour contracts, which makes it difficult to budget let alone buy a house. It’s really understood that people are getting on the job. property scale.”

A study by Metropolitan Thames Valley – which provides affordable housing for people in the South East – found that affordability is the biggest barrier to owning a home for young people.

Real estate agent Chris Fox says it's harder for young people to get on the property ladder
Real estate agent Chris Fox says it’s harder for young people to get on the property ladder

The February 2022 report adds that 60% of young people hope to own their own home in 5 years, but less than half think they will.

As for those still living at home with their family, 55% said they are because they cannot afford to move, which is similar to Luke’s situation.

The cost of a house relative to the average annual salary has exploded since 1970
The cost of a house relative to the average annual salary has exploded since 1970

Despite the housing crisis, he remains optimistic. Luke added: “I think that first step on the ladder will be tough, but I’m confident I’ll get there one day, but I don’t know when that will be.

“I’ve started to think about my credit rating and I’m taking steps to get a better one when it comes time to get a mortgage.”

Additional reporting by Amy Tregenna.