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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 02:11 GMT 03:11 UK
'I can only afford to rent'
Main street in Bala
House prices in Bala have risen dramatically
The irony is not lost on Rhiannon Dafydd - a housing officer in a town where she cannot afford to buy her own home.

Rhiannon, 27, lives just outside Bala, a rural town of about 2,000 people, where house prices had been a lot less than the national average.

But in recent years, like the rest of rural Wales, it has experienced massive rises in property prices.

According to the land registry, prices in the county of Gwynedd have risen by a third in the past year.

This has caused a great deal of disquiet among the younger people of the area, who cannot get anywhere near affording their own home.

They blame incomers for pushing the prices up.

Rhiannon was brought up in the town, which lies near the Snowdonia national park in north Wales. She returned after finishing her studies at Aberystwyth University.

She is a housing officer with Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd (the Clwyd Housing Association), but she says the cost puts buying a home there out of her reach.

I earn 20,000 a year, which is a good salary for a 27-year-old in Bala.

I'm renting in a village called Llanycil about a mile from here, and the house I'm in has just gone on the market for 150,000.

Rhiannon Dafydd
We're going to lose my generation of people from this area if things continue like this
Rhiannon Dafydd

Obviously I want to buy it - but there's no way I can afford to. My family can help me but even then there's no way.

It's been a nightmare and going back a month it was even worse.

There was nothing on the market for under 150,000 so as a single person you haven't got a hope in hell.

On my salary I could afford a mortgage of around 70,000 - but that's no good around here.

What I want to know is, how in the world can people on less money, maybe working in the factories around here, afford to buy? It's ridiculous.

People are moving into the area and pushing the prices up.

All the people so far who've come to look at the house where I'm renting have been from over the border, and lots of them are looking at buying it to rent it.

It makes me mad.
How some people are being driven out of the countryside

When people want to buy my property and then let it, it's frustrating. Where am I supposed to go?

We're not being encouraged to stay in our communities because of the situation - so how can they thrive?

We need fresh blood - and people who come here to retire, for example, don't sustain the community.

No disrespect to them, of course, but they're not going to have children to keep the schools open.

And if there are no younger people, who can then train up to be nurses or care workers to look after them?

I get disheartened and frustrated. We need more affordable housing, more houses to buy.

Some of my friends have come back and lived with their parents because they haven't got another option.

I have thought of going but I want to stay in the community.

I'm one of eight and we've all decided to come back home to live - but this situation is so frustrating.

We're going to lose my generation of people from this area if things continue like this.

Teacher Claire Atkinson
describes the difficulties of buying her first home in Cumbria


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