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The Best (And Worst) Places to Buy a House in the UK Revealed

It’s no secret that house prices vary wildly across the UK. The price of a studio flat in London could get you a four-bed detached in other parts of...

16 May 2022

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It’s no secret that house prices vary wildly across the UK. The price of a studio flat in London could get you a four-bed detached in other parts of the country.

For buyers, these value disparities are a major decider in where they choose to put down roots. Because when you can get triple the bricks and mortar for your money a few miles down the road, you might second-guess your priorities.

So, with all that said, where in the UK is the best and worst place to buy a house in 2022?

To find out, we compared house price per square foot against other lifestyle factors in each area of the UK to reveal the best places to buy a house in overall.

Weighing price per square foot against average salary, crime rate and life satisfaction, we assigned each area a House Buying Score (/100 points) to produce full rankings for the best places to buy in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.

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Key Findings

  • Cumbria (71/100 Score) ranked as the best English county to buy a house in, based on avg. price per square foot, average salary, crime rate and life satisfaction – whereas Kent (22/100) ranked as the worst.
  • Regionally, the North East is the best part of England to buy in, whereas London (24/100 avg.) and the South East (35/100 avg.) rank as the worst.
  • For Scotland, Falkirk (71/100) is the best council area to buy in – while Edinburgh is the worst (31/100).
  • In Wales, Dyfed (89/100) came out as the best county to buy in – with South Glamorgan (23) rated as the worst.
  • For Northern Ireland, Fermanagh and Omagh (83) was revealed as the top area to buy overall – while Ards and North Down is the worst.
  • Surrey has the UK’s largest average house size (1,321 sq. ft), while South Yorkshire has the smallest (973 sq. ft)
  • Based on house price per square foot, the least expensive areas for houses are in South Western Scotland, while the most expensive areas are in South East England.
  • Comparing house price versus salary to calculate affordability, West Dunbartonshire is the most affordable place for residents to buy in (affordability ratio 4.3), while Surrey is the most expensive place for residents (affordability ratio 20.7) – 2.3 times higher than the UK average.

The Best and Worst Places in England to Buy a House

Infamous for its north-south divide, England is the most expensive place to buy a house in the UK. But which regions offer the best value for money, and which should you avoid? Let’s find out.

 

Rainy as it is, the north of England was the clear victor in our house-buying study, with seven northern regions appearing in the top 10. First-place Cumbria (71/100 Score) clinched the top spot for its healthy price-to-size ratio and low crime rates, giving it one of the strongest house-buying scores of any UK region. This was closely followed by East Riding (69) and Lancashire (69).

Not looking to live up north? South of ‘the divide’, Staffordshire (67/100), Derbyshire (60/100) and Herefordshire (60/100) snuck into the top 10, though houses here are decidedly pricier than their northern counterparts.

The south of England took a hammering in our house-buying study, accounting for all spots in the top 10 worst places to buy a house in England. And there was one clear defining influencer in all this: sky-high prices.

What is surprising, however, is Kent (22/100) ranking above Greater London (24/100) as the worst place to buy a house in England. This is despite its average price per square foot being over 40% cheaper than London.

So, why is the so-called “garden of England” such a bad place to buy a property? For starters, average salaries in Kent are £9,000 lower than London, meaning reduced buying power. Add to that a comparable crime rate to the capital, and Kent’s fate is sealed.

Breaking down results by region, the North East (61/100 avg.) was the best region to buy in overall. From Northumberland to Tyne and Wear, affordable house prices and decent life satisfaction scores combined to make this one of the standout places to buy a home in the UK. On the other side of the scale, London (24/100 avg.) and the South East (35/100 avg.) are the worst regions to buy in based on these factors.

The Best and Worst Places in Scotland to Buy a House

Beautiful countryside and historic cities make Scotland an enduringly popular place to buy a home. But where’s best to buy north of the border? Take a look at our research below to find out.

 

Located in the Forth Valley in the Central Lowlands, Falkirk (71/100 Score) was ranked the best place to buy a house in Scotland. And there are several reasons for its success, from its low crime rate and low property prices, to its attractive position equidistant from two of Scotland’s most popular cities, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.

Elsewhere, West Dunbartonshire (71/100) proved a similarly impressive location for house buying. Covering the outskirts of Glasgow, this area scored well for its property value and average salaries, particularly in comparison to the city itself.

Ever dreamt of owning a home in Scotland’s remote Highlands? Northern Scottish regions like Moray (67/100), Orkney (64/100) and Highlands (61/100) all made the top 10 list of the best places to buy a house in the country.

So, you know where you should buy a house in Scotland – but where shouldn’t you? With its incredible heritage and architecture, Edinburgh may be the jewel of Scotland’s tourist trail, but buying a house here? That’s a different story. Edinburgh (31/100) ranked as the worst place in the country to buy a home, owing mostly to its exorbitant average property prices, which came in at 80% more expensive than Falkirk – a town just 23 miles away.

Generally, Scotland’s cities didn’t fare well in our house-buying study, with Glasgow (43/100) and Dundee (49/100) also appearing in the top 10 worst places to buy list. Interestingly, East Dunbartonshire also made the shortlist, in direct contrast to its western counterpart.

Still, compared to England, Scotland is generally a better place to buy a home – particularly when compared to southern England. Taking London and Edinburgh as examples, prices are almost 75% higher in the English capital than the Scottish. Add to that the fact that Edinburgh’s crime and life satisfaction rates are both better than London, and you may want to swap one capital for another when it comes to your next property.

The Best and Worst Places to Buy in Wales and Northern Ireland

In Wales, Dyfed (89/100 Score), West Glamorgan (67/100), and Gwynedd (64/100) ranked as the best counties to buy a house in, while South Glamorgan (23/100), Gwent (28/100) and Mid Glamorgan (39/100) came out as the worst.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, Fermanagh and Omagh (83/100), Mid Ulster (83/100) and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (81/100) were revealed as the top areas to buy overall, while Ards and North Down (48/100), Causeway Coast and Glens (49/100), and Lisburn and Castlereagh (53/100) were ranked the worst.

Explore the full details for Welsh and Northern Irish counties – along with in-depth information on different scoring criteria – in our interactive index below.

Explore Our Full Rankings by Country

Curious to know where your area placed in our research? Find full rankings below for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with scoring based on our different data points.

House Price vs Size: Where Offers the Most House for Your Money?

Putting aside lifestyle factors such as crime stats and local culture, which areas around the UK offer the most value for money in terms of physical real estate? To find out, we compared the average price of properties in all four UK nations, giving us a good idea of the areas that offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to overall property size.

UK House Prices Per Square Foot Mapped-8

If you want a big house for not very much money, Scotland may be your best bet. Six of the 10 least expensive areas to buy a house (price per square foot) are in southwest Scotland, including Falkirk, North Lanarkshire, and Inverclyde.

By contrast, and if money is no object, southeast England is far and away the priciest region for house buyers, with an average price square foot of £403. That’s 108% more expensive than the average price per square foot of properties in southwest Scotland.

UK House Price vs Size- Where Offers the Most for Your Money?-8

In terms of overall house sizes, Surrey has the UK’s largest on average (1,321 sq. ft), followed by Angus (1,320 sq. ft), South Ayrshire (1,320 sq. ft) and Moray (1,320 sq. ft).

South Yorkshire has the UK’s smallest average house size (973 sq. ft), followed by Durham (981 sq. ft), then Greater Manchester (992 sq. ft).

Where Are the Most and Least Affordable Places for Buyers?

With property prices increasing and demand soaring, the affordability of homes up and down the UK has been brought into question in recent years. Indeed, as of June 2021, the country’s house price to earnings ratio reached a record high of 8.8, suggesting that many face missing out on owning a home due to rising costs and demand.

But where in the UK are the most and least affordable places to buy? Here, we’ve divided the average house price by average salary for every area in the UK, to discover the top 10 most and least affordable places to buy a house for residents living in different areas of the UK.

Most Affordable Areas to Buy in the UK

From our data, West Dunbartonshire emerged as the most affordable place in the UK, with an affordability ratio of 4.3. Many other areas of Scotland also made the top 10 list, suggesting that buying a home north of the border remains more achievable than in other UK regions.

Area Avg. House Price Average Salary Affordability Ratio
West Dunbartonshire £132,365 £31,000 4.3
Falkirk £134,913 £27,000 5.0
Belfast £150,267 £29,000 5.2
Inverclyde £137,039 £25,000 5.5
North Ayrshire £139,275 £25,000 5.6
Aberdeen City £198,088 £35,000 5.7
East Ayrshire £132,684 £23,000 5.8
Mid & East Antrim £144,737 £25,000 5.9
Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon £140,983 £24,000 5.9
North Lanarkshire £143,290 £24,000 6.0

 

Least Affordable Areas to Buy in the UK

By contrast, Surrey is the least affordable place in the UK, with an affordability ratio of 20.7. This is 2.3 times higher than the UK average, placing the county beyond the reach of many average-earners and first-time buyers.

Area Avg. House Price Average Salary Affordability Ratio
Surrey £641,027 £31,000 20.7
Rutland £414,505 £23,000 18.0
Greater London £674,027 £38,000 17.7
Hertfordshire £519,192 £30,000 17.3
Buckinghamshire £489,820 £30,000 16.3
Kent £410,668 £27,000 15.2
Essex £408,033 £27,000 15.1
East Sussex £419,556 £28,000 15.0
West Sussex £429,335 £29,000 14.8
Oxfordshire £469,804 £32,000 14.7

 

List of Data Sources

A list of data sources used to create the index and rankings for this research can be found below:

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