How much should you spend on rent? While it's very much a personal decision that depends on your individual situation, the average English household who rents privately spends 32.6% of their income on housing. However, that figure changes across income levels, geography and age.
Using nationwide stats on rent spending, we calculated the rent you can afford based on your income. See how much other people spend, and calculate what you might be able to afford based on these stats.
Housing Costs and Affordability
The average English household that rents privately spends 32.8% of their collective income on rental payments each month (an average rent of £868 per month). However, this number ranges from less than 20% to 52% or more for some people. For example, young people aged 16-24 spend a whopping 46.8% of their gross income (i.e., pre tax income) on rent. Let's look at how much people spend on rent across the UK, as well as by age and for different types of households.
Rent Affordability by UK Region
Renters in Yorkshire and the Humber spend the smallest proportion of their income on rental payments each month—26.6%, which is 6 percentage points less than the average in England.
In contrast, renters in London spend the highest proportion of their income on rental payments each month—40.2%, which is nearly 8 percentage points more than the average in England.
|What Proportion of Income Do Renters Spend on Rent? (by UK region)|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||26.6%|
When calculating your budget, also factor in the cost of rent fees and the cost of contents insurance, which is important for protecting your belongings against perils like fire, flood and theft (as these aren't covered by your landlord's insurance policy).
Rent Affordability by Income Level
Households earning lower incomes tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on rent. For example, households earning under £16,744 of gross (pre-tax) income spend an average of 52.7% of their income on rent. On the other hand, average highest earners spend under 20% of their income on rent.
|What Proportion of Income Do Renters Spend on Rent? (by gross income)|
|Quintile 1 (under £16,744)||52.7%|
|Quintile 2 (£16,744 - £28,495)||37.7%|
|Quintile 3 (£28,496 to £42,223)||28.3%|
|Quintile 4 (£42,225 - £65,103)||22.8%|
|Quintile 5 (over £65,103)||19.7%|
Rent Affordability by Age
Not surprisingly, young adults earning entry-level wages spend the highest proportion of their earnings on rent payments. Renters in the 16- to 24-year-old age bracket allocate an average of 46.8% of their gross income each month to rent—households in this age group also pay the highest rental prices. The age group spending the smallest proportion of their earnings on rent is 25 to 34 year olds, who spend 28.2% of income on rent.
|What Proportion of Income Do Renters Spend on Rent? (by age)|
|65 or over||39.2%|
How Much Should You Spend on Rent?
How does this apply to you? Each household is unique in terms of income levels and the amount of that income they allocate towards rent. To help you quickly see what different income/rent allocations mean for you (in terms of how much monthly rent you can afford), we ran the figures across a range of income levels and rent/income proportions. Look up your household income or salary in the table and chart below to see what different monthly rents mean in terms of affordability.
|Rent Affordability Calculator||Rent/Income = 25%||Rent/Income = 30%||Rent/Income = 35%||Rent/Income = 40%||Rent/Income = 45%|
|£20,000 Gross Income||£333||£417||£500||£583||£667|
|£30,000 Gross Income||£500||£625||£750||£875||£1,000|
|£40,000 Gross Income||£667||£833||£1,000||£1,167||£1,333|
|£50,000 Gross Income||£833||£1,042||£1,250||£1,458||£1,667|
|£60,000 Gross Income||£1,000||£1,250||£1,500||£1,750||£2,000|
|£70,000 Gross Income||£1,167||£1,458||£1,750||£2,042||£2,333|
|£80,000 Gross Income||£1,333||£1,667||£2,000||£2,333||£2,667|
|£90,000 Gross Income||£1,500||£1,875||£2,250||£2,625||£3,000|
|£100,000 Gross Income||£1,667||£2,083||£2,500||£2,917||£3,333|
These figures can be a useful quick guide when determining how much you should spend on rent, in addition to working through a more in-depth rent affordability calculator that factors in your other monthly spending.
Should You Spend 30% of Your Income on Rent?
It depends. While the average privately-renting household spends 32.8% of their total income on rent, you might spend more or less depending on your circumstances. For example, younger adults who are at the lower-end of the pay scale are likely to see a higher proportion of their income go towards housing costs. Even your region makes a difference—in an area like London where real estate is so expensive, higher rental prices mean renters spend a larger proportion of their income on rent.
Factors like age, income level and region can therefore all have a bearing on rental affordability for you. It's certainly good to have an idea of the percentage of income you spend on rent and how that compares to others in your situation. And to keep these figures in mind before signing up to a new lease. The higher the percentage, the less affordable your rent is—and the less money you have to pay for other household budget items like food and transportation.
To arrive at the figures in this study on rental afforability, we analysed data from the English Housing Survey 2018-19 from Gov.uk.