Which everyday items have become more or less affordable over time?

02 July 2019 Our expectations of ‘everyday’ living are growing rapidly. As mainstream technology advances at an exponential rate, more and more items are moving from luxury to necessity in our lives. The good news is once unthinkable technologies are now readily accessible, indeed affordable for most people in the western world.

Not everything is getting cheaper, though. In fact,
some of the most fundamental parts of life are costing us more than ever. Here,
we discuss some of the key everyday items in life that have moved in both
directions.

More affordable: televisions

The humble television has been on quite the journey
since first going on sale in 1928. Naturally it began as a very exclusive item,
ask previous generations of their memories of watching the Queen’s coronation,
or even the moon landing, and you’ll hear stories of watching it at someone
else’s house because the TV was still a household rarity.

Back in the early 80s, a 26” Sony colour TV cost between £570-£800
which, inflation adjusted, equates
to roughly £1975-£2775 in today’s money
. Today, you can find 50”
Sony Smart TVs for under £400.

Less affordable: further education

Student loans are the bane of many millennials’ lives.
For many, their loan will be never be paid off, simply down to their earning
potential never matching up to their level of debt.

Up until the late 90s, higher education was virtually
free in the UK, thanks to state paid tuition fees and maintenance grants. In
1998, annual tuition fees of £1,000 were introduced. In 2006 that rose to
£3,000, before shifting to £9,000 a year in 2012.

More Affordable: air travel

Even though airfares still represent a significant
cost to travellers, things are much better than they used to be. Of course,
when plane travel first became a truly commercial matter in the 1950s, costs were
sky high. Domestic
US flights could cost comfortably over $1,000, with trips abroad consistently
in the multiple thousands
.

Typically, flights that cost thousands then only cost
hundreds or even tens nowadays. There is somewhat of a trade-off though — early
commercial flights were spacious, with plenty of free booze and food. That
certainly isn’t the case now.

Less affordable: housing

Thanks to the UK government’s Help
to Buy scheme
, hundreds of thousands of people have
managed to get on the property ladder. However, costs have continued to rise in
both the buying and rental markets.

According
to Nationwide
, the average cost of a house in the UK
sits at £212,694, as of Q1 2019. The property market fluctuates, but prices
have been consistently on the rise since the start of 2013. Back then the
average was £163,056. At the turn of the millennium, it was £77,698. Even in
inflation-adjusted terms, the cost of house prices has risen by just under
£100,000 in the last 20 years.

With the typical one-bed
home in the UK costing £600 a month
, renters aren’t faring
much better. The
BBC dubbed two thirds of the country ‘unaffordable’ for young renters
,
with a salary of £51,200 required to afford a mere one-bed in London.

Overall, there’s an interesting contrast of
expenditure facing today’s society. As technology advances and production costs
drop, we’re enjoying more affordable access to better gadgets and general
electronics than ever, as well as cheaper travel around the world. However,
where some of life’s more fundamental costs are concerned, there’s a different
story altogether.

The stark rise in key spend areas like housing and
education is a wider indictment of the rising cost of living against stagnating
wages. For those looking to make
the right financial choices
, it appears many of life’s most
important expenditures will pose the biggest challenges.

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