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Difference between house prices and average annual wage in Kent has doubled since the year 2000


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A Thanet midwife put off having a family to buy a house but is stuck with only owning 40% of her family home.

Jessica Mills, 26, finished her degree and hoped her £33,000 wage from working as a midwife would be respectable enough to be allowed to buy a house.

Jessica Mills, midwife from Thanet
Jessica Mills, midwife from Thanet

However, she was shocked by the reality of the housing market.

Recent Office for National Statistics data shows eight of Kent's 13 areas have an average house price 10 times higher than the average wage.

The bank would not allow Jessica a mortgage over £150,000 on her wage, so her only option for buying a two bedroomed property in Thanet was shared ownership of a newly built house.

After an affordability assessment, she was allowed to buy 40% of a property and pay rent on the other 60%, paying £94,000 towards a £235,000 Cliftonville house.

This makes her monthly mortgage £420 and rent £360, but in the previous house she rented Jessica was paying £1,000 a month.

She can take the affordability assessment only three times, which means if on the third try she is not allowed 100% of the house, it will never fully be her family home.

Jessica said: "I got really frustrated. If I can afford rent of £1,000 a month, I can most certainly afford the full mortgage. I have to pay half and half, which feels such a waste of money.

"People want that family home and the garden. I just think it's absolutely been ripped away from people who have worked really hard."

When she spoke to mortgage advisors, she was told the maximum house price people are offered is 4.5 times their annual salary.

But recent data from the Office for National statistics shows most house prices are far above this level for the average salary.

Most areas average house prices are 10 times the average salary
Most areas average house prices are 10 times the average salary

Eight areas in the county, including Thanet, have an average house price that is more than 10 times above the average annual wage.

Whereas in 2000, the largest ratio was seen in Sevenoaks, where house prices were 6.98 times above the annual wage.

Dover's average house price in 2020 was 7.03 times higher than the average wage, which despite being the slimmest 2020 ratio, it is still higher than Sevenoaks 20 years ago.

The largest difference seen in 2020 was in Tunbridge Wells where house prices were 13.27 higher than the average annual wage.

After spending years studying towards a career, holding off on having a family and saving with a previous partner, she was frustrated to find how much more impossible owning a house had become.

Jessica added: "I did everything the right way - not that there's a wrong way - but I've done it the way that most people say that you should. If I still can't seem to win, then there's no right way of doing anything.

"It feels like you're forced to have to be with somebody in a relationship in order to have a house. In a way, that's trying to say that only people that are in relationships deserve or have the right to buy their own house.

"But it shouldn't be that way. It should be, if you work hard and you've got a decent wage, I should be able to buy a house."

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