Hundreds Of Women Tell Us How Much Of Their Salary Goes On Rent

Photographed by Meg O'Donnell.
How much of your monthly income do you spend on rent? According to Hamptons International, tenants in their 20s spend an average of 34% of their pre-tax income on a place to live, and this figure is rising. In the past year, rents have increased by 1.3% in the UK and are predicted to continue to rise by up to 15% over the next four years. Meanwhile a 2018 report by Shelter found that rents have been outpacing wages since 2011. All of this to say, we're spending more of our hard-earned money than ever to live where we do.
However, two main questions remain unasked. How do people feel about spending that much, and how does it impact their ability to save? Your rent may swallow a huge chunk of your take-home pay but if your cost of living is otherwise very low and you have the job of your dreams, that's far less impactful than living with relatively cheap rent in a place where monthly travel costs are extortionate. Those factors, as well as lifestyle choices, have a huge weight on whether or not people feel able to set any money aside.
One of the most popular ways of budgeting is the 50/30/20 rule, where you divide your take-home pay into needs, wants and then save the rest. Needs cover all essential costs like rent, tax, bills, food and travel, but don't include subscriptions or phone bills. The theory is that your needs shouldn't exceed more than 50% of your take-home pay. But that just isn't realistic for many, especially in cities like London and Oxford. The knock-on effect is that saving in any form becomes harder, and the price of a deposit in more expensive places is far out of our reach anyway. If 50% of your take-home pay goes on rent alone, what are you meant to do? As Daisy, 23, from Oxford says of spending 42.3% of her paycheque on rent alone: "I essentially can’t save. By the time I pay for food, bills, and other things I need, there is no money to save. I’m looking at doing extra shifts on top of the 45+ I do a week, or freelance work in order to save and get back into education or even go on a small holiday to relax."
To find out more, we asked our UK Money Diaries group how much they spend on their rent, where they spend it and whether they think it is worth it for the location, number of flatmates, etc. We received a total of 446 responses from all over the UK, with percentages ranging from as low as 11% in Manchester to highs of 63% in London.
We narrowed down 15 major areas featured in the responses and selected three random answers from each place to try and give a thorough overview. We've also averaged the response for each area. How does this compare to your spending?

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