The town Victoria Beckham calls home is Essex's least affordable place to live

Aerial image of part of Mark Hall North conservation area in Harlow
Aerial image of part of Mark Hall North conservation area in Harlow -Credit:Harlow Council

An Essex area called home by Pete Wicks and Victoria Beckham has been identified as the county's least affordable place to live. Renting in Harlow costs more than 60 per cent of the typical take-home pay according to new figures.

ONS figures state it cost £1,295 a month on average to rent a home in Harlow in the year to March 2024. That’s up by nearly half (45.0%) from £893 in March 2015.

The average full-time worker in the area earned an estimated £25,659 after tax last year, an increase of around 20 per cent from 2014. The average rent in the area is now 60.6 per cent of the typical take-home pay, up from 50.1 per cent in 2015 - making Harlow the most unaffordable place to rent a home in Essex.

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Harlow was the birthplace of former Spice Girls star Victoria Beckham and TV star Pete Wicks during the 1970s and 80s. Rather disappointingly, however, Victoria is keen to forget her Essex roots. The music star reportedly quipped in 2015: "I'd like to forget the Essex bit. It's not a very nice place."

Pete Wicks, meanwhile, has stayed true to his roots and regularly enjoys a meal out at celeb hotspot Sheesh in Chigwell. People in Great Britain spend more than half of their take-home pay on rent, as wages fail to keep up with soaring prices. It cost £1,246 a month on average to rent a home in Britain in the year to March 2024.

That’s up by 9.1% compared to the same time last year, and by 34.8% since March 2015, when the average home cost £924 a month to rent. Meanwhile, the average full-time employee earned an estimated £27,825 last year after tax and national insurance were deducted.

That’s up by 23.1% from 2014, when the average take-home pay was £22,597 for full-time workers. That’s almost 12 percentage points less than rents have increased by in that time.

It means that renting the average British home now costs 53.7% of the typical take-home pay, up from 49.1% back in 2015. The figures come from exclusive analysis of official earnings and rent price data by the Reach Data Unit.

Take-home pay has been calculated by deducting income tax and national insurance from the median salary in each local authority, for each year from 2014 to 2023.

Dan Wilson Craw, Deputy Chief Executive of Generation Rent, said: “Something has gone very wrong in this country when a home – one of the most basic things we need for a decent life – is becoming more expensive in relation to what we earn. Rent is our biggest cost and if living standards are going to improve it needs to come down.

"That means building more homes where people want to live, including social housing so that everyone can put a roof over their heads."