RUNAWAY house prices in the south of the county are 15 times the average wage, making it one of the least affordable spots in the UK.
The average cost of a home in South Oxfordshire has reached £372,632, against an average wage of £24,107, according to the National Housing Federation.
It says the countryside is more expensive to live in than many towns, and workers in some rural areas would need to see pay packets rise by 150 per cent to afford a home.
James Edwards, 24, is a software engineer at Culham Science Centre, near Abingdon.
Despite earning £25,000-£30,000 he cannot afford to buy in the area and pays £330 a month to share a rented house with four others in Abingdon.
He said: “A few months ago I started looking at properties but the prices are extremely high and it seems a bit mad.
“Houses under £250,000 either needed a lot of work doing or were so tiny you could hardly swing a cat, and for a semi-detached you were looking at £300,000.
“In terms of prices compared to wages, South Oxfordshire is worse than London for cost, which is because Oxfordshire is easy for commuting to London.
“I know quite a few others who want to buy but can’t because they haven’t got enough cash.”
James Hellem solved the problem of not being able to afford a place of his own by using a shared ownership scheme.
He moved into a two-bedroom terraced house in Chilton Dene, near Didcot, in April last year.
Under the scheme he bought a half-share of the £230,000 home, while the remainder is still owned by housing association Soha Housing.
Repayments on a mortgage of just under £100,000 are £480, and he pays £300 to rent the share of the house belonging to the housing association.
That adds up to £750-800 per month, but he has a lodger in his second bedroom to help meet the cost.
The 30-year old physicist said: “I hadn’t been able to save much money but my dad helped with the £16,000 deposit. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy without this scheme and am probably paying less now than some renting.”
Fran Ryan, co-chairwoman of Oxfordshire Community Land Trust, which wants to build more affordable housing, said: “This is not good news for people who need to live in this area.
“If every village had a community land trust to build a few permanently affordable homes like this, what a difference it would make.”
David Orr, National Housing Federation chief executive, said: “The traditional picture of the English countryside is fast becoming extinct. We know how difficult many under-40s find it to buy in towns and cities but it’s becoming impossible to put down roots in our villages and market towns.”
IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
The most expensive rural area to live in the country is South Buckinghamshire. The average house price there is £563,032 and average earnings are £27,903.
Above South Oxfordshire in the 10 least affordable areas are the Cotswolds, Chicester in West Sussex, Waverley in Surrey, Sevenoaks in Kent and Tandridge in Surrey.
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