September 16, 2016

Forty per cent of households earning £100,000 or more say they are struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising rents and mortgage costs and an increase in school fees and living expenses.

According to research from Lloyds Bank, which questioned 2,500 people, just 2 per cent of those earning an annual household income stretching into triple figures say they actually feel wealthy.

The findings come in the wake of a claim by Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, that he does not consider himself wealthy even though he earns almost £138,000 a year and lives in a home worth £600,000.

In May, an FT Money article about a couple who claimed they were struggling on £200,000 a year provoked huge debate.

People living in the south-east, contending with expensive housing and rising school fees, said they were struggling the most with a fifth claiming their living expenses outstripped their monthly income.

“£100,000 feels like a really large household income and you would expect people to feel wealthy,” said Sarah Deaves, private banking director at Lloyds. “But with rising costs, there are many who are earning significant amounts and yet they’re still feeling like they’re struggling to meet their monthly outgoings each month.”

Prices of family homes within the M25 have rocketed. According to JLL, the global property advisory group, the price of a family home in the Greater London area over the past 10 years has risen by 86 per cent to an average of £550,000. Over 30 years, it has shot up by 475 per cent.

A recent survey by the Association of Residential Letting Agents concluded that more than a fifth of people renting in London have given up on the idea of ever being able to afford to buy in the capital.

Yet renting is not always the answer. Property group CBRE estimates the monthly rent on a two-bedroom flat in London costs more than twice what it would in Paris.

One solution therefore, suggests Michael Lavin, a financial adviser with Expat Wealth Advice, is to leave not just London — but also the UK.

“A couple living on a lower income in another European city may often have a higher level of disposable income and be better off in real terms,” he said. “Their costs of living are often far lower.”

But for those for whom leaving is not an option, the question many now face is just how much they need to earn — or accumulate — to feel truly wealthy.

Hugh Wade-Jones, managing director of Enness Private Clients, a mortgage broker for the super-rich, suggests the tipping point is £16m.

“You’d start off with a property worth about £4m — and you’d have two or three of those — and then £4m in the bank,” he said. “That is where I think you start to get comfortable.”

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