Most affordable areas to buy a house in England and Wales

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Over the past year, squeezed budgets and surging mortgage costs forced many to shelve plans of buying a home. However, despite the property market beginning to ease in 2023, in real terms, houses across the country are more unaffordable than ever. Stark differences have emerged across England and Wales, with money going far further in some local authorities than others. See how yours fares with’s interactive map below.

House prices appear to have peaked, but a decade of steady rises and a post-pandemic demand boom means they are still floating around all-time highs.

The average home in the UK fetched a record £296,000 last October – almost triple the going rate at the turn of the millennium.

Wages have not kept up with this pace, having barely doubled over the same two decades. 

Real earnings – after taking into account inflation – took a particularly big knock in 2022, falling by almost three percent over the year when house prices had increased by 12 percent. As a result, properties are less affordable than ever.

The affordability of housing is best expressed as the ratio of wages to property prices – how many times the average salary would it cost to buy a home.

With a median annual salary for full-time employees at £33,000 and house prices averaging £275,000, England’s affordability ratio came in at 8.3 last year. This is almost double the 4.2 rate in 2000.

Although affordability has worsened in every local authority in the country over the past 25 years, some areas have been acutely affected – London and its surrounding areas faring far worse than the North of England.

The affordability ratio of Kensington and Chelsea towers over the rest at 38.4 – meaning it costs almost 40 times the average annual salary to buy a home in the borough. All of the top ten least affordable local authorities in Britain were in the London area, with Westminster (22), Richmond upon Thames (20.7), and Elmbridge (20) following.

Even the most economical borough in the capital, Tower Hamlets (10.1), was less affordable than the most expensive area in the North East, North Tyneside (5.9).

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Compared to 2019 – before pre-pandemic distortions – affordability had got worse in 75 percent of all councils in England and Wales.

In 2022, just 23 areas (seven percent) had homes selling for less than five times average worker earnings, all of which were in the North of England.

Copeland on the Irish Sea coast of the Lake District remained the most affordable council in Britain last year.

With a median property price of just under £130,000, and a median wage of just under £45,000, its ratio came in at 2.9 – over 13 times lower than Kensington and Chelsea. This was followed by Barrow-in-Furness (3.9), Hyndburn (4.1) and Hartlepool (4.1).

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