1. Economy
September 18, 2015

Where are Britain's cheapest houses?

By Jonn Elledge

The latest instalment of our weekly series, in which we use the Centre for Cities’ data tools to crunch some of the numbers on Britain’s cities.

Last week in this space, we looked at which British cities had the most expensive housing. Quick recap – they were all in the middle of the southern part of the country, and mostly had at least two of the following: a university, a booming economy, a nice bit of seaside, or a quick train to London.

This week, we’re at the other end of the property ladder, and asking where you’ll find the cheapest housing. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

Dundee, Mansfield, Grimsby, Sunderland… This looks suspiciously like the usual litany of towns that were built around mines, or docks, or other heavy industry.

What’s more, while London’s boom has bid up prices right across the south, the revival of Manchester doesn’t seem to be having the same effect. Wigan is within Greater Manchester, Blackburn and Burnley aren’t far outside it, and even Stoke is a relatively simple train ride away. Yet all of them contain some of Britain’s weakest housing markets.

The most affordable housing market of all, though, is on the other side of the Pennines in Hull. There you can still get one bedroom flats for as little as £30,000. That’s less than the average deposit in London.

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But, from a first time buyer’s perspective, prices themselves are in some ways less important than their relationship to incomes. The affordability ratio is the ratio between average housing prices and average incomes. Here are the 10 cities where that ratio is lowest:

It’s largely the same again. Mansfield and Sunderland are out, and Rochdale and Liverpool are in – a reflection of the fact that, while housing is more expensive in the latter two areas, incomes are higher, too. Nonetheless, there isn’t a radical difference between the two lists.

As ever, then, it’s the economy stupid. In some parts of the country, there’s affordable housing, but wages and employment rates are low. In the other, the economy is booming, but a roof over your head will set you back a fortune. Look:

I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.

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