Is rent affordable?

SpareRoom have just conducted an investigation into the amount of rent paid.

The findings can be found here, and starts with the premise that rent should cost around 30% of monthly salary.  Their article states:

We hear the phrase ‘affordable rent’ all the time. But what does it actually mean? Is your rent affordable (and more importantly, does it feel affordable)? To find out, we asked over 11,000 renters around the UK. The general rule of thumb is that rent should cost around 30% of your monthly salary – let’s see how many people fit into that bracket.

The simple answer is, not many. 80% of you said your rent cost more than 30% of your monthly pay. Unsurprisingly, renters in London were worse off, with 84% spending more than that. Renters in Northern Ireland had it easier, with only 52% saying their rent was more than 30% of their pay. Having said that, that still means over half of them don’t have rent you’d traditionally considered affordable.

Here’s the picture across the UK:

Region Over 30% of salary on rent
East Anglia 80%
East Midlands 73%
North East 65%
North West 74%
Northern Ireland 52%
Scotland 73%
South East 83%
South West 82%
Wales 75%
West Midlands 73%
Yorkshire and Humberside 69%
London 84%
UK Average 80%


But the really shocking thing was just how many people spend way more than that. 29% of you said you spend more than half your salary on rent. As a result, it’s hardly surprising only 41% of people said they thought their rent was affordable.

What’s more, women are hit the hardest, with one in three women spending more than half of their income on rent, compared to one in four men.

The truth is, that definition was already outdated before the pandemic hit. Although rents in London fell over the past two years, current data shows they’re climbing again. Rents across the rest of the UK stayed pretty strong so, as energy bills rise over the coming months and the cost of living squeeze hits home, the question is, does ‘affordable’ rent actually exist in 2022?

To find out which UK towns and cities have the most (and least) affordable rents. Check out our league table of UK rents.




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