The Household Budget

What was the income of families in late-Victorian London? What was their household budget? Did they buy or rent their home? How did they furnish it and what were their other expenses?

Less well paid professionals might have earned £350 per annum. Their home would cost £500 to buy or could be rented for £40 to £60 per annum. It would have seven or eight rooms, and the family would employ one or two servants. For example, the household budget for a lawyer's wife early in her married life was 30 shillings per week plus the cost of coal and the wages of an 18-year old maid of all work.

A typical lower clerk or shopkeeper earned £200 per annum. They would have lived in a £200-£300 house which cost £24 to £45 to rent. There would have been six or seven rooms, serviced by one servant, typically a young maid who was paid £20. Once the income reached £250, staff would be more affordable.

The lowest-paid clerks and skilled manual workers earned £100 to £150 and would have rented a house selling at between £120 and £200 for £12 to £30 per annum. Such a house would have had five or six rooms but no separate scullery. They could not afford a servant but perhaps had occasional help. £90 per annum would rent an old house with two bedrooms, or new 'half house' i.e. a flat in a terraced house.

To Buy or Rent?

Mortgages for lower salaried people were available only from 1904. Thus, 90% of homes were rented, typically at 10% of the purchase price which was in turn 110% of the building price. The landlord was often the builder. The cost of the land typically accounted for less than 20% of the building cost.

Furnishing the Home

Furnishing a dining room could range from £8 for the cheapest furniture and carpets to £20 for items of good quality, to £95 for those of the best standard.

Other Expenses

Other expenses were train tickets costing £10 per annum, rates and water £5 each year, gas £4 to £8 and, if it was available, electricity £3.