There can be little doubt that Cambridge is one of the economic bright spots in the nation, accommodating many of the world’s brainiest and most entrepreneurial individuals ready to make the next world-changing technological breakthrough. For this reason, Cambridge is a magnet for many highly skilled workers from across the country, and indeed, across the world.
However, the state of Cambridge’s housing market is not such a pretty picture, especially from the eyes of the younger generation who are in the early stages of their career. In October, ‘Cambridge News’ reported that average house prices have hit a woeful £367,510; 47% higher than the national average of £250,000. Cambridge now is third least affordable place to live in the UK, being beaten by only London and Oxford. The inflation of house prices may very well be due to the fact that such high numbers of wealthy and highly skilled individuals are moving here with the ability to pay colossal amounts of money for their own homes, leaving everybody else behind.
However, the problem with Cambridge’s housing market is not exclusively one of high demand; Cambridge is a very small city in comparison to most others in the UK, and there simply isn’t the space to accommodate this economic euphoria. The little space that was available in the city centre has been snatched up developers to be turned into luxury apartments, often costing as much as £1 million. More often than not however, newly developed accommodation is only available to rent; this is hardly of much remedy to the thousands of budding homebuyers in the city.
The inaccessibility of Cambridge’s housing market to the younger generation may cause greater problems than stress and depression to individuals; if house prices in Cambridge don’t steady soon, then bright, young individuals who can’t afford a mortgage will be deterred from working here. In the long term, a reduced flow of professionals into the city could significantly hinder future prospects of growth and innovation, potentially dragging down the entire local economy with it. Already, I have observed that fewer teachers want to work in Cambridge because the cost of living is too high, along with scientists and healthcare workers.
Those forced to rent privately in the city often have to spend over a third of their income on rent, the level of spending internationally recognised as unaffordable. This cripples their ability to scrape enough together for a mortgage deposit, this problem is therefore not going away soon. Until somebody exercises an effective policy to reverse this dreadful housing problem, solemn faces staring through estate agent’s windows will continue to be a common sight on Cambridgeshire streets.