What caught my eye this week.

Perhaps the most fanciful of the many ultimately costly reasons I found for not buying my own place in London for decades – missing the entire boom, before finally doing the deed after it ended – was self-driving cars.

Yes really.

My thinking was that when AI can drive us about everywhere, there will be less of a premium on living near the action.

Instead you could fall asleep drunk in a cheap robot taxi that drives you back to your home anywhere. You could live up a mountain, miles from public transport. You could commute in a bed-car.

Location would still be important, but that would be re-calibrated. Maybe views would be at a premium, or peace and quiet, or being a drive away from several social hubs rather than being at the heart of any one of them.

I didn’t know exactly how London’s pricey postcodes would be affected. But I was wary of placing a bet.

Needless to say, while we now have chatbots that can bluster as convincingly as any sixth-former who didn’t do their homework, we’re still waiting to be ignored by a passing autonomous black cab.

So much for that great reckoning!

More recently the pandemic – and working from home  – was touted as doing something similar.

Remember the countless stories about people moving out from the cities in 2020?

Yeah, well lots of them moved back. Or perhaps found they couldn’t afford to do so, because others had rushed in to fill the spaces they’d left behind.

Bonnie’n Inverclyde

And so the UK remains a country divided by house price to average earnings ratios as much as by absolute house prices. Higher-earning bidders pay relatively higher prices for already pricey property.

Indeed this week we learned that the most affordable place to live on the basis of such ratios is Inverclyde.

No, me neither. According to The Guardian:

Inverclyde, which boasts a saltwater Lido looking out over estuary, has an income ratio score of just 2.9, compared with central London’s score of 16, the research shows.

It is closely followed for affordability by Dumfries and Galloway (3.2) and East Ayrshire (3.3).

And here’s a comparison in table form, again from The Guardian:

The salaries behind the ratios are regional. Which means that while they don’t have the granularity of the local authority house price data, we’re at least not seeing those Scottish house prices made comparatively cheaper by being set off against bankers’ bonuses in Canary Wharf.

Of course it has been like this to some extent forever. But the ratios really do look extreme now.

If you live in Hull and I live in Islington, can we even have a mutually intelligible conversation about the price of a first-time home?

How does it end? More of the same?

Perhaps tribes of highly-skilled tech workers who can work remotely could get together to set themselves up in luxury in Scotland – creating a critical mass to bring sufficient baristas and craft beer breweries in their wake.

Perhaps not. As one blogger put it during the pandemic:

The more people can be anywhere, the more they will want to be somewhere.

And with no offence to those living far from the madding crowd – hey, it’ll be me someday – I expect for most such bright young people, London will continue to be the UK’s centre of gravity.

Whatever the ratios say.

Another membership housekeeping note

Last week’s site housekeeping note flushed out a new issue, which is that a tiny handful of Monevator members hadn’t been getting any premium emails at all.

Which is distressing. Because we’re grateful for the support of every one of our members!

The issue seems to be that if you’ve ever unsubscribed from Monevator emails, then when you sign-up for membership the system assumes you still don’t want them.

Blame GDPR and all that malarkey.

The solution is to resubscribe to our free emails. This should ensure that as a member you get all our emails – including your special member content.

I know there are some people who are better than me who like to keep pristine inboxes. If that’s you, I suggest reading the Mavens and Moguls articles by logging in on the Monevator website.

(Remember you must allow third-party cookies to log-in. But there are no ads as a member, at least).

Have a great weekend all!

From Monevator

Where to invest a low amount of money – Monevator

The investor sentiment cycle – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Why your house is an investment, and an asset – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view click through to read the article. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing to sites you visit a lot.

Average property asking price down by £7,000… – This Is Money

…and house viewings have fallen off a cliff – This Is Money

UK poised to confirm fifth delay to post-Brexit checks on imports – Guardian

How much could the UK state pension pay in 2024? – Which

Taylor Swift is fuelling a 2024 booking boom for Travelodge – This Is Money

Ex-Vanguard CEO joins VC to guide investments in advisor fintech – Investment News

OnlyFans owner paid £268m in dividends as profits surge – Sky News

Ofgem energy price cap falls back below £2,000 – Guardian

Products and services

Annuity sales jump on high interest rates [Search result]FT

NS&I launches Green Bond paying 5.7% – Which

Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and claim £100 to £3,000 cashback. Terms apply – Interactive Investor

What’s happening to the cost of renting? – Which

Beware this new parking app scam – Which

Open an account with low-cost platform InvestEngine via our link and get £25 when you invest at least £100 (T&Cs apply. Capital at risk) – InvestEngine

What happens if you can’t pay your energy bill? – Be Clever With Your Cash

Jim Cramer ETF to close, attracted just $1.3m [US but quirky]Investment News

Why mobile phone signal is still so scarce at music festivals – Guardian

Homes for sale with uplifting views, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

The cake/fruit salad theory of asset allocation – Oblivious Investor

The journey is everything when you invest in bonds – Fortunes & Frictions

Financial superpowers – Humble Dollar

Everything and everyone underperforms eventually – AWOCS

How you feel about money changes over time – The Irrelevant Investor

Naughty corner: Active antics

One investing trait to rule them all – Flyover Stocks

If the UK stock market is cheap, why doesn’t it go up? [Search result]FT

Investing is the study of human decision making – The Big Picture

A mid-year review of a dividend stock portfolio – UK Dividend Stocks

Across the multimanagerverse [Search result]FT

Venture capital mini-special

Venture capital funds are mostly just wasting their time and your money [Search result]FT

SPACs were the result of VCs opting to get rich quick – Newcomer

The state of the faded investment unicorns mania – Morningstar

Kindle book bargains

Tribe of Mentors: Advice From the Best in the World by Tim Ferris – £1.99 on Kindle

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong by Hans Rosling – £0.99 on Kindle

Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth – £0.99 on Kindle

Trillions [Inventing the Index Fund] by Robin Wigglesworth – £0.99 on Kindle

Environmental factors

How to plan a green funeral – BBC

Reefs made from dead trees could help biodiversity – Guardian

Farmers unsure what to plant as post-Brexit payments delayed – Guardian

Does the ocean floor hold the key to the energy transition? – Noema

Dredging threatens shipwrecks as well as marine life – Hakai

Up close and personal with bluefin tuna – Inside Hook

Robot overlord roundup

The authors whose pirated books power generative AI – The Atlantic via MSN

Off our beat

Intelligent versus smart – Morgan Housel

The story of Subway, which was just sold for $9.6bn – Sky News

Believing myths about ageing makes growing old worse – Time

Love advice from a divorce lawyer [Podcast]Art of Manliness

Here’s how the new weight loss drugs could change everything [Podcast]Odd Lots

Inside Michael Lewis’ hero factory – Semafor

Meditation is more than either stress relief or enlightenment – Vox

Why would you rent a flat again after buying your own house? – Dwell

And finally…

“Some have observed that naming a sports arena is a good way to identify short-sale candidates.”
– David Einhorn, Fooling Some Of The People All of the Time

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday. Note this article includes affiliate links, such as from Amazon and Interactive Investor.

The post Weekend reading: is UK property cheap or is it expensive? It depends which UK… appeared first on Monevator.

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