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New data reveals the most affordable UK areas for first-time buyers

  • A new study has revealed the best UK areas for first-time buyers – with East and North Ayrshire topping the ranking.  
  • The study compared median first-time buyer house prices and salaries across the UK, revealing the most affordable areas to save for a home. 
  • North Lanarkshire, Durham County Council, and South Lanarkshire also rank as some of the most affordable areas to purchase a property.  

A new study has revealed the best and worst UK regions for first-time buyers based on house affordability and earning potential. 

The study, conducted by free mortgage broker L&C Mortgages, analysed GOV.UK data on median earnings and average first-time buyer house prices per region, revealing the UK areas with the best house price-to-income ratio – perfect for those struggling to save for their first home.  

Ranking in first place is East and North Ayrshire, which offers first-time buyers the opportunity to live in an idyllic Scottish town for an affordable price. The median monthly salary for this area is £2,268, which is only just lower than the UK average of £2,322. Additionally, the area shines with a remarkably low median first-time buyer house price of just £103,453, the lowest in the UK.  

Ayrshire’s reasonable salary offerings and impressively low first-time buyer house prices give it a ratio of 3.8 – making it the most affordable UK area to buy a house.

North Lanarkshire ranked in second place, presenting another promising option for first-time buyers. With a median monthly salary of £2,355 and a median first-time buyer house price of £112,166, the area boasts a ratio of 3.97, making it an attractive choice for those seeking affordability without compromising on quality. 

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The Scottish area has the third lowest first-time buyer average house price, combined with median salary expectations that are just £33 a month higher than the UK annual average.  

Ranking as the third best area for first-time buyers is Durham County Council, with a median monthly salary of £2,229 and a median first-time buyer house price of £111,454, resulting in a favourable ratio of 4.17. 

Placing in joint fourth place is South Lanarkshire and the regions of Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, and Renfrewshire, both achieving a ratio of 4.39.  

South Lanarkshire offers an average monthly salary of £2,432 and a first-time buyer property price of £127,974. The area borders Glasgow City Council, providing an affordable option for buyers looking to live near a city. 

Also located In Scotland and ranking in joint fourth place, you’ll find Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, and Renfrewshire. Despite being a bit farther from Glasgow than South Lanarkshire, areas like Inverclyde provide the charm of small-town communities and stunning coastal paths. Moreover, it’s just a 30-minute drive from Glasgow, offering the best of both worlds. 

The area offers a monthly median salary of £2,390 and a median first-time buyer house price of £151,264, making it another great contender. 

Lanarkshire has once again secured a spot in the rankings, with East Lanarkshire claiming the fifth position. Boasting a median monthly salary of £2,060 and a median first-time buyer house price of £120,379, the area maintains an impressive ratio of 4.52. 

Ranking sixth is Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire. This region offers a median monthly salary of £2,471 and a median first-time buyer house price of £136,179, resulting in a ratio of 4.59, making it an attractive location for those seeking affordability coupled with quality living standards. 

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Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees secure the seventh spot on the list. These small English towns offer a median monthly salary of £2,227 and a median first-time buyer house price of £125,088, translating to a ratio of 4.68.  

Eighth is Sunderland, with monthly average salary opportunities of £2,134 and house prices averaging at £120,716 – generating a ratio of 4.71. Placing ninth is Falkirk, another Scottish town offering affordable housing options alongside a respectable median monthly salary of £2,406, surpassing the national average for many residents. With a median first-time buyer house price of £138,730, Falkirk maintains a ratio of 4.81, making it an achievable option for those looking to save for their first home. 

Rounding out the top ten is South Ayrshire, which can offer residents a monthly salary of £2,222 and median house prices of £129,357- providing it with a ratio of 4.85.    

Best UK Regions for First-Time Buyers  

Rank Region Median Monthly Earnings (£) Median First-Time Buyer House Price (£) Ratio 
1 East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire mainland 2,268  103,453  3.80 
2 North Lanarkshire 2,355  112,166  3.97 
3 Durham CC 2,229  111,454  4.17 
4= South Lanarkshire 2,432  127,974  4.39 
Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire 2,390  151,264  4.39 
5 East Lanarkshire 2,060  120,379  4.52 
6 Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire 2,471  136,179  4.59 
7 Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees 2,227  125,088  4.68 
8 Sunderland 2,134  120,716  4.71 
9 Falkirk 2,406  138,730  4.81 
10 South Ayrshire 2,222 129,357 4.85 

On the other end of the scale, numerous areas in London emerged as the least favourable options for first-time buyers, with low median salaries and staggeringly expensive properties.  

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Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham topped the list as the least cost-effective areas for first-time buyers. The area’s median first-time buyer house price was a staggering £792,899, with monthly earnings of just £3,261 – making this the most challenging and inaccessible market for first-time buyers in the UK. 

Unsurprisingly, the research revealed that the top ten most expensive areas are all located in London – including Westminster, Camden and City of London, Haringey and Islington, Hackney and Newham, Brent, Hounslow, and Richmond upon Thames, Barnet, Redbridge and Waltham Forest and finally Enfield.  

Most Expensive Regions for First-Time Buyers:  

Rank Region Median Monthly Earnings (£) Median First-Time Buyer House Price (£) Ratio 
1 Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham 3,261  792,899  20.26 
2 Westminster 3,365  789,208  19.54 
3 Camden and City of London 3,252  722,480  18.51 
4 Haringey and Islington 2,845  591,780  17.33 
5 Hackney and Newham 2,450  496,814  16.90 
6 Brent 2,353  448,808  15.89 
7 Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames 2,721  510,727  15.64 
8 Barnet 2,568  473,821  15.38 
9 Redbridge and Waltham Forest 2,522  450,199  14.88 
10 Enfield 2,289  395,180  14.39 

Other areas outside of London that rank within the top twenty-five most expensive regions include Brighton and Hove, East Surrey, Buckinghamshire County Council, West Essex, West Kent, West Surrey, and Bristol.  

Notably, Brighton and Hove ranked twelfth, surpassing numerous locations in London, suggesting that getting onto the property ladder there is just as challenging as it is in London. 

Speaking on the findings, an expert from L&C Mortgages says: “As house prices have rapidly increased across the UK in recent years, the affordability challenges have only grown.  

“Identifying regions with favourable house-to-income cost ratios shows just how regionalised affordability can be and highlights how some first-time buyers may find it easier to get on the property ladder than others. 

“Scotland features high up in the list of areas offering numerous areas with more affordable housing prices when compared to earnings. On this metric, it looks to have a solid status as the top UK area for affordability for prospective homeowners.  

“Unsurprisingly, London dominated the list of areas where first-time buyers may find it hardest to get on the ladder, highlighting the mismatch between house prices and average earning. Additionally, the ranking highlighted the most cost-effective regions in England for first-time buyers were largely to be found in the North East, with Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, and Durham County Council leading the pack. That will be welcomed by first-time buyers looking in those areas, and although never easy to get on the ladder, it could at least offer hope to those saving toward their first purchase ” 

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