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These are the most affordable cities in the UK for first-time buyers

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Moya Crockett
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You might have seen the internet joke, attributed to Twitter comic @mutablejoe, about a millennial edition of Monopoly. This updated game, so the gag goes, doesn’t ever allow players to actually buy a house; instead, they just circle the board for infinity, throwing Monopoly money away on rent.

Like most good jokes, it’s funny because it’s true. A recent survey by HSBC revealed that UK millennials (broadly defined as those born between the early Eighties and the mid-to-late Nineties) are less likely than their counterparts in countries including France, Canada and the US to own a home. Across all age groups, home ownership was at its lowest rate for three decades in 2016, with the housing crisis spreading from London to other major cities in the UK.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. According to new research, there are still UK cities where it’s possible to get on the housing ladder – you just might have to be prepared to compromise.

According to a study of more than 1,000 people by Post Office Money, first time buyers are increasingly travelling to new areas of the country to find a home they can afford. All of the participants in the research had bought a property in the last two years, and 70% said that they had eventually settled on a home an average of 26 minutes from their original desired location.

Post Office Money also compared average property prices in 14 UK cities to the percentage of properties that were affordable to first time buyers – and surprisingly, London didn’t come in last place.

The most affordable cities for first time buyers in the UK are as follows (in descending order):

14) Brighton

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Average property price: £352,303

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 2%

13) Bristol

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Average property price: £268,070

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 29%

12) London

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Average property price: £534,272

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 30%

11) Cardiff

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Average property price: £191,582

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 46%

10) Leeds

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Average property price: £170,927

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 65%

9) Newcastle

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Average property price: £162,010

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 72%

8) Sheffield

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Average property price: £154,481

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 74%

7) Birmingham

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Average property price: £165,149

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 79%

6) Manchester

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Average property price: £153,590

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 84%

5) Plymouth

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Average property price: £167,477

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 85%

4) Liverpool

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Average property price: £121,374

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 87%

3) Nottingham

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Average property price: £128,192

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 89%

2) Norwich

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Average property price: £196,987

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 93%

1) Southampton

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Average property price: £199,074

Percentage of properties affordable to first time buyers: 98%


In short, it doesn’t look like many first time buyers will be moving to Brighton any time soon. But if we’re being forced to relocate to get on the property ladder, how can we be sure that we’re making the right decision?

“If you’re a first time buyer, you’ll likely have to buy at the cheaper end of the property market,” says Vadim Toader, CEO of Proportunity, a tech company that forecasts real estate trends using artificial intelligence.

“However, by understanding how to identify the potential property hot spots of tomorrow, your first property could get you on track to buying the home of your dreams before too long.”

Toader recommends identifying the more affordable neighbourhoods of the city you want to move to, by looking at where property prices are lower than the region’s average.

“Avoid areas that have experienced particularly high growth in recent years, as that suggests potential for future growth has already been exhausted and prices will not much going forward,” he says.

Additionally, he suggests investigating crime rates in the area (are they rising or falling?), as well as whether there are any urban transformation or school development projects planned in an area. These, he says, “signal an upcoming regeneration of the area”, while education improvements in affordable areas “tends to push prices up”.

Sounds simple – right?

Images: iStock

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women's Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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