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.
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.
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 that 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.
(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!
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
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
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
“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