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Are you Middle Class?


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My wife was sent this article today. As there have been some recent discussions on Sikhi and "class" affects, it would be somewhat humerous and insightful to share this with you.

I personally know quite a few people form Sikh backgrounds who fit this description perfectly, interestingly enough, maintaining this lifestyle has taken priority over maintaining their interest in Sikhi, they even have "real" posh public school accents and can speak at least 2 other European languages (wow). I knew someone "Sikh", completing their BAR, who when asked by a very interested senior Judge at one of their fancy year-end dinners, "what is the significance of a Sikhs untouched hair", was stumped...

I even know a bajurg Singh who is in his mid-late 70's, who has bought a house in a "British" south Spain coastal town, who lives there for half of each year, lapping up all the attention he gets from like aged British Gentlemen who think it's cool to have this charming, round buying Sikh as a friend. Poor Bibi just sits at home (Spanish) bored! Not to mention his grand kids missng out on an important grand-parent relationship...

Sorry to dampen the mood, enjoy..

Can you afford to be middle class anymore?

By Naomi Caine

May 11 2007

I describe myself as middle class. But for how much longer? Lately, I have begun to wonder if I can afford to live the dream.

Everybody these days has a flash car, a mobile phone, computer kit and goes on holiday at least once a year. So if you want to stand out from the working-class crowd, you have to aim a bit higher.

So what exactly defines someone as middle class nowadays? And how much does it cost to be a member of the bourgeoisie?

•

Red brick, not Oxbridge

You have to go to university for a start. And that’s expensive. The shift in the balance of funding from grants to loans means that student life can cost £8,000 a year, or £24,000 over a typical three-year course. Then there’s tuition fees of as much as £3,000 a year, or £9,000 in total. So that comes to £33,000.

By the way, if you want to be middle class, you should choose your university – and your course – with care.

Bristol, Durham or London are ideal. Oxford and Cambridge are dodgy. You will either be branded a toff, or will be judged to have won your place through social engineering and the sympathy vote. Don’t study anything airy-fairy, such as politics, philosophy or Greek. You should read economics, law or languages – possibly medicine.

Don’t be a barrow boy

The years of study should mean you can get a job in a nice middle-class profession, such as the civil service or the media.

The City is an alternative, but try to stick with the blue-blood firms, such as stockbrokers, merchant banks and possibly hedge-fund managers. There are still a few barrow boys in the City, and you should avoid any contact.

A house not a home

Next you have to buy a suitable home. You can get away with a flat in London or a chi-chi city such as Bath or Brighton; anywhere else and you really need a house.

The average house price has climbed 11% over the past year to £194,362, according to the latest Halifax figures. But if you look at the Prime Country index, the figures are rather different: the average price of a plush home in the country has topped £500,000 for the first time.

If you can put down a 10% deposit, you would be left with a mortgage of £450,000. The monthly payments at today’s rates would be about £2,800, or £33,600 a year.

Nursery space for Kitty and Freddy

A family is a must. How would anyone really know you were middle-class if you couldn’t call your child Kitty or Freddy and talk loudly about violin lessons and horse riding?

But children are expensive. A survey by Legal & General reckons they cost about £100 a week. But if you employ a nanny to help out, she won’t get out of bed for less than about £20,000 a year.

State school? How terribly common…

Of course, the children have to go to a good school – and they are harder to find in the state sector.

So expect to fork out £9,000 a year in fees for a private education. If you’ve got two of the little darlings – or you’ve popped out a more fashionable three – then you are looking at £27,000 a year.

•

A nice villa in Sardinia…

Children at private school get longer holidays than children in state schools – and there’s your next expense.

You can fly with a low-cost airline only if you have a property abroad; otherwise it’s a no-no. If you’re lucky, your job will involve travel so you can collect Air Miles. If not, you will probably have to dig deep to pay for a BA flight, or an upgrade on another airline.

Middle-class parents tend to favour upmarket holiday resorts with childcare facilities. The Forte Village in Sardinia is a popular choice. But a summer holiday for a family of four could easily run up a bill of £10,000. Or what about the uber middle-class Scott Dunn? You could get a nice villa in the Med, complete with a cook and a nanny, for about £6,000.

Your life would not be complete without the annual skiing trip, which bumps up your annual holiday budget by another £10,000

… and a second home in the country

If you are serious about your status, you also need a house in the country – think Norfolk, Suffolk, Devon or Cornwall.

It can’t be too small: where would your friends stay? If you plump for Devon, you will pay a high price.

The market in the south-west of England has outstripped the national average, with house prices rising 14% over the past 12 months. The average property now costs more than £200,000, so your monthly mortgage payments would be about £1,300, or £15,600 a year.

More wine, anyone?

What else? You have to entertain a lot so that you can show off your Farrow & Ball colour scheme and let you children stay up really late and annoy your guests.

The budget for entertaining will also be high because you can’t serve supermarket plonk – Oddbins or Nicolas are best, though you could get away with Majestic.

Your meat must be farmed locally and your vegetables organic, and preferably delivered to your door through one of those box schemes. You can buy your basics in a supermarket, but only if it’s Waitrose. M&S will also pass muster in some circles.

I reckon that an authentic member of the middle classes would spend at least £200 a week on food and entertaining, which adds up to about £10,000 a year.

Primark? Do I look like a chav?

Talking of shopping, clothes can be a status giveaway.

It’s tempting to buy your clothes in Primark or Tesco, but you should think very carefully. You might get away with a cheap T-shirt, as long as you regard it as some sort of social experiment, or a chance to show off your youthful figure and outlook. But on the whole, it’s best to eschew the “value†retailers.

Boden is more of a social than a fashion statement and will confirm your status as middle-class. You can also shop in Whistles, Jigsaw and Hobbs. I would risk Gap and Monsoon, but would not cross the threshold of any other high-street chain.

It would cost about £10,000 a year to kit out the typical middle-class family. You can add another £1,000 for school uniforms and sports equipment. Have you seen the price of ballet shoes?

The true cost of being middle-class

The total comes to about £150,000 a year. But I haven’t included cars, or any other incidentals, such as theatre tickets, birthdays and Christmas.

So we should increase our budget by at least another £20,000 to cover these extra costs. The total is now creeping up towards £200,000 – and that’s net income.

The average family would therefore need to earn at least £250,000 a year. And that’s well above the typical salary of most professionals, unless I am seriously underpaid.

What can we do? I think we need to reclaim the middle class ground. Let’s leave catch-up consumerism to the chavtastics and let’s make thrift the true hallmark of the middle class. Second-hand Boden clothes anyone?

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