When it comes to buying your first house, location is everything. You’ll want to ensure you pick the right area for you and your budget; whether you’re climbing the career ladder, looking to raise a family or simply wanting to settle down. Choosing the area to make your home in is an essential part of the buying process.
We have compiled a list of some of the best areas to live in within each region of the UK to help make your house hunting just that little bit easier.
A hugely broad area; the South West as a region encompasses counties including Bristol, Dorset, and Somerset, right down to Devon and Cornwall. Due to the scale of this area, house prices vary dramatically across the region.
Bristol city is a vibrant place full of great places to eat, huge amounts of culture and an abundance of green spaces. Thanks to its university it is a popular place for young people to settle down. New developments aimed at first time buyers and offering financial assistance under the government’s Help to Buy scheme are popping up, although this is helping to push up the house prices faster than other parts of the country. The St George area is a prime location for those looking to step foot on the housing ladder, with properties available from around £94,000.
Further down the country, in Cornwall the government is working hard to provide help to first time buyers. Offering some superbly low-priced properties, the area must be balanced with job availability. Although Truro remains one of the most expensive towns in the South West at 8.57 times above average earnings, larger towns like Plymouth and Barnstable (crossing the Devon border), offer a range of new build developments aimed at first time buyers and prices according to the Mouseprice Property Heat Map, prices average between £120-170 thousand.
Covering the counties of Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, the South East is often considered more expensive than many other areas of the UK. However with several of these locations such as Kent and Berkshire offering reasonable commuting distance from London, for those pursuing careers in the capital, living in the South East can offer a much more affordable alternative to London living.
The Test Valley area of Hampshire encompassing the towns of Andover and Romsey on the outskirts of Southampton was mapped as the Britain’s top place to live by the Telegraph in 2014. Looking at important factors such as household income, health and crime rates, the area also offers great access to the bustling city of Southampton.
Portsmouth on the south coast is a wonderfully affordable city for housing, with prices averaging on the lower end of the scale, showing as green or yellow on our Property Heat Map. The area also has a great range of new build developments, particularly to the north of the city and further out in the Waterlooville area, offering great access to schools and out of town shopping.
Brighton is East Sussex is a desirable area for first time buyers due to the vibrancy of the city but unfortunately will be unaffordable for many; according to the Telegraph properties are 7.94 times the average person’s annual income.
The common perception is that London is THE area to avoid when it comes to buying a home especially if you’re a first time buyer. The truth is that like anywhere it will depend on the area. There are new build accommodations available that are much more affordable for new buyers with most going to market at less than £250,000. Of course it is always possible to participate in shared ownership of a property, which will ease the amount that you pay but you won’t own the entire property.
The house prices in London vary from an estimated £253,000 all the way up to the millions depending on which borough you’re looking in. We recommend looking around the outskirts of particularly popular places such as Chelsea as you can expect a lower price when buying a property without compromising the location. Hammersmith, Fulham and Ealing all feature as some of the most expensive areas in the UK according to Halifax, so are worth avoiding. Look out for up and coming areas with plenty of new development as places to invest in.
Wales is known for having beautiful views from the shores to the valleys, plus on average house prices are around three times lower than London, so it is no wonder that it’s a popular place for home buyers. Amongst almost all lists of best places to live, Cardiff and specifically Newport as two of Wales’ largest cities always pop up.
With its beautiful architecture and history for you to view along with its exceptionally low crime rates, we can see how Newport would be a great choice for you to start up your life with a new home. Companies such as Persimmon Homes usually have some new build projects on the go in the area, with houses starting from an estimated £60,000 with the average estimated property value across the city £309,000 according to Mouseprice data.
Encompassing the busy metropolitan county of West Midlands, as well as Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire the housing market in general in this region has seen some significant improvement.
Solihull on the outskirts of Birmingham was voted the best place to live in 2013 and has continually been mentioned in reports on the best places to live. In general, the crime rate, well-being, income amount and economic activity rate are all through the roof which makes it a great place for just about anyone to live.
It boasts a beautiful vintage look which gives off a friendly vibe including great road names, welcoming for people of all ages as well as a variety of different educational establishments to choose from. House prices range from £95,000 based on Mouseprice valuation data.
Rutland in the East Midlands frequently appears on the best places to live lists thanks to its rich history, pretty rivers and land. It is convenient to reach from all directions of the country making it easy for you to get in and out should you need to. With a great range of educational establishments and plenty of work available, it’s an ideal location for first time house buyers to settle down. With houses starting from around £45,000 in some areas (based on Mouseprice valuation data) there is sure to be somewhere very affordable perfect as a first time buyer.
Larger cities such as Nottingham and Derby offer great transport, schools and all the conveniences of urban city life. Prices are still significantly lower than in the south of England and Nottingham in particular is seeing a huge amount of new development making it a desirable location to invest, with new tram links dramatically altering parts of the city.
Covering areas including Hertfordshire, Cambridge and Essex right up to Norfolk on the coast there is huge scope in these areas for first time buyers. Counties such as Cambridge and Essex remain popular as commuter locations, allowing for careers in London without the expense of living in the capital.
St Albans in Hertfordshire ranks as the best place to live within the commuter belt according to the Telegraph, although prices are reflected by being somewhat higher than average than some other places within the region.
In 2014, Uttlesford in Essex appeared in the top ten in a list of the best places to live in the UK. Not only has it become a popular choice for housing, but it also benefits greatly from Stansted Airport which is the largest employer in the area. House prices in the area start from £110,000 according to Mouseprice data.
It’s well known that the further north you go, the more affordable the housing, and prices are indeed notably different than down in the south especially when looking at exactly how much you can get for your money.
Yorkshire and the Humber boasts a number of large university cities including Sheffield and Leeds, and these areas have become popular destinations for alumni to settle down thanks to the draw of urban living.
Hambleton in North Yorkshire has become an increasingly popular destination for new buyers over the last few years due to its beautiful countryside views. With a new energy plan in place and regular new developments, it’s a perfect place to start up your new home. Prices range from £70,000 to £2,000,000 estimated value with an average of £200,000 in Northallerton.
The North West offers a variety of affordable locations from bustling cities to more rural villages.
The Lake District is always a desired place to live thanks to its beautiful scenery and peaceful location. It’s no surprise that it’s a frequent contender as one of the best places to live in the UK.
Kendal, in Cumbria is one of the more favoured places to live for new buyers thanks to its homely villages, friendly residents and booming businesses. Companies such as Russell Armer Homes have continuous property development projects in progress so there is sure to be a home that suits all new buyers. House prices start at the £20,000 mark and vary all the way up to £435,000, according to Mouseprice data.
A Halifax report found that Cumbria’s Borough of Copeland was one of the most affordable places to live in the UK along with Burnley in Lancashire. Offering easy access to the dramatic scenery of the Lake District, the town of Whitehaven in the Borough of Copeland has a slower pace than some of the other busier northern cities, but has some excellent schools and a comprehensive high street.
Durham in the North East of England is perfect for people looking to buy a new build house thanks to its great city life, perfect for professionals and people looking to raise a family. With many educational establishments, sports teams and beautiful scenes such as the cathedral, it makes it an interesting place for all. House prices start from around £23,000 with £425,000 being the maximum according to Mouseprice valuation data.
The Orkney Islands just off of mainland Scotland are a perfect place if you’re looking to move away from the hustle and bustle of the UK but don’t want to travel too far. The islands boast green fields, intriguing coastlines and perfect beaches. The islands are reachable by just about all sources of transport from the mainland of the islands with many historic things to see along the way. The islands boast a peaceful and friendly lifestyle with great business communities to get involved in as well as new housing developments becoming a regular occurrence. This means that you will be able to find a home to suit you whether you prefer vintage or modern. According to Mouseprice valuation data, house prices start from just £13,500 with the most expensive around £340,000.