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Most Affordable Places to Live in the UK: 2021

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Just where are the cheapest places to live in the UK? Will London ever be an affordable place to buy a home?

The latest research by Move iQ has revealed the most and least affordable cities in the UK to buy a home. Surprisingly, London is not the most expensive city in England to buy a home.

Are you thinking of buying a home but unsure where to start? Want to know where your city appears in our affordability list?  

Carry on reading and take a look at our chart below.

Where should I buy a house?

If you’re ready to buy a house but wondering where then we’ve got you covered.

It’s no surprise to see that our research shows a clear divide between affordable towns and cities in the North and South of the country.  

“Everyone knows property costs more in the South than in the North. But homes in the North aren’t just cheaper, they are often more affordable too. Our research shows they can cost as little as three or four times the average salary, even in beautiful cities like Durham.”

Phil Spencer.

Where is the cheapest place to buy?

The least affordable towns and cities are all in southern and eastern England, while the most affordable are in the North and Scotland.

If you live in the North of England or looking to buy a home in more northerly counties, then this is good news for you. Our data reveals this is where the average person’s salary can stretch the furthest to afford a home in the local area.

The further south you look, the least affordable houses become based on the average salary in the area and local house prices.

Not everyone is willing or able to move to the other side of the country, but if you would like to buy and can’t afford to where you are, it’s worth investigating where your money will go further and buy you a better standard of living.”

Phil Spencer.

Durham revealed as the most affordable city

With homes costing just 3.2 times the average local salary, Durham takes the enviable top spot as Britain’s most affordable place to buy a home.

In this historic city, the average property costs just over £100,000 while the average resident earns £32,275.

Top affordable places to buy a home in the UK

As revealed by our research, the second and third most affordable city to buy a home in the UK is Middlesborough and Aberdeen.

In Aberdeen, average property prices fell 6.4% in the past year to £144,928 and still remain a mere 3.7 times average earnings. These are also good places to look if buying a house alone.

Britain’s top 10 most affordable places to buy

Rank Town / City
Average House Price Change Over Past Year Average Salary Affordability Ratio
1.Durham£101,961-2.5%£32,2753.2
2.Middlesborough£112,2782.0%£31,2923.6
3.Aberdeen£144,928-6.4%£38,9263.7
4.Barnsley£131,5637.9%£34,3123.8
5.Stoke-on-Trent£115,3452.8%£29,668 3.9
6.Hartlepool £121,2019.0%£30,7503.9
7.Blackpool£107,7091.8%£27,244 4.0
8.Glasgow£136,5162.6%£34,008 4.0
9.Rotherham£141,8831.8%£35,280 4.0
10.Darlington£130,666-0.1%£32,9094.0

Where are the most expensive places to buy a home?

Cambridge, Oxford and London hold the top three spots in our table of the least affordable places to buy a home in the UK. Many commuter towns for London are also very expensive, due to their proximity to the capital.

If you live down South, then this probably won’t come as a big shock to you.

Cambridge is the most expensive place to buy a home

The average property in the East Anglian city of Cambridge costs £470,933, almost as much as the average home in London. Property prices there rose by 6.4% in the past year and now stand at 11.9 times the average salary in the city.

The average London property costs fractionally more at £475,458, but salaries in the capital are higher – the mean average is £49,228 – making homes slightly more affordable for Londoners. 

If you’re currently renting in London or looking to buy in the big smoke, you’ll be forgiven for feeling that it’s not very affordable at all – and, you’d be right. The average property in London still costs 9.7 times the average Londoner’s salary!

“That level of affordability is unthinkable in southern hotspots like Cambridge, where average salaries are a little higher but homes cost nearly five times as much. With most mortgage lenders unwilling to lend more than five times a person’s salary, you can see how out of reach homes costing 12 times as much are.”

Phil Spencer

The most expensive places to buy a home in the UK

Check out our chart below to see where your city ranks in our list of most expensive places in the UK to buy a home.

Britain’s top 10 least affordable places to buy

RankTown / CityAverage House PriceChange Over Past YearAverage SalaryAffordability Ratio
1.Cambridge£470,9336.4%£39,43411.9
2.Oxford£431,6476.3%£36,194 11.9
3.London£475,4580.2%£49,2289.7
4.Winchester£434,9893.6%£46,1989.4
5.Brighton£365,2501.3%£38,8969.4
6.Chichester£385,605-2.5%£41,3599.3
7.Watford£347,609-1.6%£38,2119.1
8.Woking£410,7980.8%£47,7858.6
9.Guildford£449,0901.6%£53,0508.5
10.Crawley£287,2683.1%£33,9518.5

Need help to buy a home?

If you need help to know where to start to buy a house, then we’re here for you.

We can help guide you through the home buying process and decision making with our expert property advice for homebuyers.

We’ve also created handy checklists to guide you through every stage of home buying and ensure you avoid common mistakes. Sign up (it’s free) to access your checklists in the My Move iQ Library.

And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve even created an entire Podcast all focused on helping you to buy a home – listen right here or on your favourite podcast app!


Last Updated: March 16th, 2021