Here’s Why Millennial Women Find It Harder To Afford A Flat

Photo: Meg O'Donnell
Even when we confront the gender pay gap, we rarely talk about its knock-on effects. One of the most disappointing – and damaging to people's everyday lives – is the so-called "gender rent gap". Because millennial women generally earn less than millennial men, a higher proportion of their salary tends to go on rent.
In fact, according to a new study of 6,000 British flat-sharers by SpareRoom, 27% of millennial women are spending more than half of their salary on rent – compared to just 17% of millennial men.
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Unsurprisingly, this means fewer millennial women can afford to live alone if they want to. Whereas 56% of millennial men in flat-shares said they'd be able to pay their rent by themselves, just 39% of millennial women came to the same conclusion.
As well as being less able to rent a place of their own, millennial women are less likely to be in a position to buy a home. Whereas 47% of millennial women said they’d only be able to afford a flat deposit if they teamed up with a partner, a smaller proportion of millennial men – 37% –said the same thing.
Miriam Tierney of SpareRoom said in response to the results: “This research shows just how far the consequences of the gender pay gap extend. It’s not just about how much you earn, it’s about how that affects the fundamental things in life. In simple terms, it’s relatively more expensive to rent in the UK if you’re female."
It's simple, and very dispiriting. As Tierney went on to point out, "the one thing at the heart of all our lives – having a secure, affordable home – is harder for some people simply because of their gender.”
SpareRoom's study chimes with recent research by Refinery29, which found that women in some parts of the UK are spending a hefty wedge of their monthly income on rent.
LJ, a 30-year-old charity project manager from London, told us that she spends more than half (£1,100) of her £2,150 salary on a one-bed flat where she lives alone. "I basically can't save," she admitted, "even though I'm earning £44k a year!"
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Daisy, a 23-year-old healthcare assistant from Oxford, said she spends more than 42% (£550) of her £1,300 salary on a room in a house with three others. "It costs a fortune," she admitted. "I end up spending a significant amount of my wage on rent, and living costs are similar to London without the extra allowance in wages for London."
Meanwhile, research by the Resolution Foundation has found that more young people are avoiding living in big cities – where there are often greater job prospects and larger salaries – because of prohibitively high rents.
It's little wonder that more than a quarter of first-time buyers are getting help from the the bank of mum and dad if they're lucky enough to have relatively wealthy parents.
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