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Cost of living crisis: Women hit harder by rents than men

As the cost of living increases, SpareRoom says over 85% of women are spending 30% or more of their income on rent, compared to 75% of men. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
As the cost of living increases, SpareRoom says over 85% of women are spending 30% or more of their income on rent, compared to 75% of men. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Women have been the hardest hit by the cost of living squeeze as soaring inflation grips the nation.

New data by SpareRoom shows women are most likely to feel the pinch with increased energy bills and looming national insurance tax hike.

The flatshare site says over 85% of women are spending 30% or more of their income on rent, compared to 75% of men, highlighting the affordability gap between men and women.

Traditionally, people spending over 30% of their household income on rent are deemed to be "rent burdened", while those who spend more than 50% are considered "severely rent burdened".

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Over 80% of renters are spending more than 30% of their take home pay on rent, and almost one in three (29%) are handing over more than 50% of their pay.

SpareRoom's figures show that the majority of renters are currently rent burdened. This means many are already struggling to afford necessities such as food, transport and medical care on top of rent.

"Although wages are rising, they aren’t growing fast enough to make up for cost of living increases that are rising at their fastest pace for 30 years," said SpareRoom director Matt Hutchinson. "This doesn’t just affect renters, it also makes life difficult for the huge numbers of young people who moved back home to their family over the course of the pandemic, not to mention those who were already there."

Survey conducted by SpareRoom in January 2022 with 11,130 respondents showing % of monthly take home pay respondents pay towards rent. Image: SpareRoom
Survey conducted by SpareRoom showing % of monthly take home pay respondents pay towards rent. Image: SpareRoom

Of the 11,130 respondents surveyed in January this year, 59% said their rent was not affordable.

People in London, the South East and South West of England are spending a higher percentage of their salary on rent than in other areas.

The pandemic saw rents drop in London and increase everywhere else, but recent data from SpareRoom’s Rental Index now shows the capital’s rents are back on the up, which will no doubt cause more of an affordability issue for Londoners.

Read more: UK rents rise to 13-year high 

A separate report showed UK rent prices are at a 13-year high putting a squeeze on disposable household income as cost of living rises.

Figures from Zoopla show rents have gone up above pandemic levels, rising 8.3% in a year to £969 ($1,317) per month. This is £62 more per month than at the start of the pandemic.

This means that households who agree new lets will pay an additional average annual cost of £744, compared to the start of the pandemic (March 2020).

According to Zoopla, the average rent now accounts for 37% of gross income for a single earner. While this is broadly in line with the 10-year average of 36%, it is up from a dip of 34% during most of 2021.

Overall, average rents are up nearly 12% over the last five years due to a decline seen in some areas of the country during the pandemic, the real estate firm said.

Watch: Am I wasting my money by renting?