26 May 2022

North-South divide.

Much has been said over the decades about the great North-South divide in this country. Most of its proponents from the North argue that Southerners have it all too easy, have the best jobs, houses, standard of living etc and those in the North are hard done by. Some Northerners carry their bitterness to the extreme. My daughter was bullied terribly in her first year at a university in the North by a Liverpudlian flatmate who saw it as her life's aim to reduce my daughter to a terrified wreck and completely ruined her university experience, purely because my daughter came from down south and had a London accent.

I would go as far as to say us Southerners don't have it all and are in many cases worse off for living in the South. Yes, there are plenty of jobs and plenty of housing, but our standard of living is not great.  I don't dispute there there is higher unemployment in the North, but I am merely comparing like-professionals with like-housing and travel costs. 

Rental property in the south is astronomical compared to that in the north. On the left of the two photos below,  look at this TWO-bedroom flat on the ground floor of an old house in Newcastle for £700 per month . Compare that with a similar property in London  (photo on the right) where you can  only get a ONE-bedroom ground floor flat for a massive £1250 a month The further into the centre of London you look, they are even more expensive. The one shown is in the suburbs. A similar ONE-bedroom flat closer to the centre is £1550 per month.


Kay and her partner Darcy are having to move to London, as their jobs now dictate a career move about which they have no choice,  as it is part of their training programme.  Up to now they have been renting a one-bedroom flat in a crumbling Victorian house in Surrey for £1000 per month, but want to get onto the ownership ladder, as they are both now in their 30s. 

A lot of Kay's uni friends in the North have settled with their partners or husbands and bought their first properties. They can typically afford detached or semi-detached houses with a fair amount of garden in Yorkshire or Lancashire, such as this one below left at a bargain £240,000  Kay will be lucky to get a one-bedroom flat in a run-down area of London for that price. Compare that northern house price with the one in the photo on on the right to give you an idea what Kay would have to pay in London or anywhere in the Southern region for a whopping £650,000

Furthermore, If she wants to furnish it with nice things or decorate it, she will need to find the money over years and years, compared with her friends who have saved money on the house price and therefore can have it all at once and now.

The cost of travel and commuting around London and the South East doesn't come cheap either. With congestion charges of £15 to enter into the city centre or extortionate commuter train and bus fares  to get about the vast expanse of London and the SouthEast, it does not even get covered by the paltry London Weighting, which in no way makes up for the disparity of prices.

I have always argued that someone who is doing a similar job in the North to someone in the South is far better off. A teacher or civil servant or other professional will earn a similar salary, wherever they are,  but the one in the North will have their standard of living for a third of the price the southerner has to pay. They can therefore afford nicer cars, more exotic holidays, new furniture, kitchens and whatever they want to spend their spare cash on. The Southerner will have to make compromises or do without, as they have no spare cash.

The disparity does not stop there.  When buying a house, stamp duty rises according to house prices, so the southerner will always pay hefty stamp duty for a more modest house compared to their northern counterpart who, on the above examples, will pay very little stamp duty.  Even in death, if the house is passed to a southerner's children, they will be clobbered for 40% inheritance tax when they inherit a modest property, whereas the northern property (although far grander, but of far less value) will attract no inheritance tax at all.

It just aint fair. Incidentally, all of those photos shown above can be looked at in detail on Rightmove by clicking on the price tag links. 


Pam said...

Yes, I quite agree (I live in Edinburgh but one of our daughters lives in London). For that reason, it's hard to understand why people want to live in London (unless they are forced to, like your daughter and indeed mine - who's married to an actor). It takes so long to get anywhere, your friends probably don't live near and, as you say, the prices are extortionate. But people seem to want to. If your family is there, then that's understandable. But otherwise, it's beyond me. There are so many other nice places to live where houses are cheaper and life is much easier.

Will said...

As someone who has lived in the North, but with family living in the South it is not so straightforward. Yes, property is now horrendously expensive in the South-East, however if you had the good fortune to have bought prior to the 1980s/1990s then you are in a position to cash in and move to a much larger property in the North, whereas I would find it impossible to move closer to family now in the South. We have seen this with friends who, for family reasons, moved from Kelso in the Borders to Cheltenham, and had to compromise on a much smaller property in a not particularly desirable area - a major come-down from their previous 5 bedroom property.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I have read and digested this blogpost but diplomatically I have decided not to say anything in response.

Anonymous said...

Would you not consider downsizing and letting them have your place or some of the equity. You strike me as someone who is sensible enough to help them on their chosen path.