Which UK cities offer the best property options for those on an average salary?

There are extraordinary contrasts between the type of property that people on an average salary can buy across the UK’s major cities. For instance, the average salary in Hull could get you a five-bedroom house, while in London the average salary barely stretches to a one-bedroom apartment, and you’d be lucky to find a shared ownership deal.

While the disparity in property prices around the UK is no surprise, the difference between what someone earning an average salary can afford to buy with a mortgage in the north and south of the country is extreme. The contrast is underlined by research from national construction company Validus, which examined average salaries in every UK city to assess people’s purchasing power, working on them obtaining a mortgage of five times their salary.

Best property value

Standout findings are that the best property value can be found in Hull, where £125,000 can buy you a five-bedroom house. In contrast, the London average salary of £36,184 will only buy a one-bedroom apartment worth £180,000, or possibly a two-bedroom house on the outskirts needing renovation.

Let’s look at some of the best property options available in a range of UK cities for people earning the average salary there.

Nottingham

Nottingham has the county’s lowest average salary figure of £23,377. Here it’s possible to buy a two-bedroom city centre apartment in a prime location within easy reach of shops, parks, and restaurants. This example on Upper College Street (above left), is priced at £115,000, while the two-bedroom maisonette on Staindale Drive (above right) has a guide price of £120,000.

Hull

With a slightly higher average income than Nottingham, buyers could purchase a property worth a maximum of £125,710 – and this could be a five-bedroom house with a large garden and three bathrooms. The Hull property market includes the house (above left) on Berkeley Street which has a guide price of £110,000, while a one-bedroom apartment (above right) on George Street finished to the highest standards in an outstanding development, is priced at £125,000.

Birmingham

The UK’s second-largest city comes in fifth place in terms of lowest average income at £27,175. For £135,000 you can buy a two-bedroom apartment in this block on Walsall Road, Great Barr (above left).£135,000 is also the price for a two-bed apartment on Great Charles Street, Queensway, (above right), within walking distance of the city centre’s business district.

Manchester

The average salary in the city is £27,175, and the price of housing here varies considerably according to property type and location. For instance, this studio apartment in Greengate, Salford, Greater Manchester (above right) and the 3-bedroom semi-detached house in Clayton (above left), are both priced at £130,000, but the house requires significant work. Widening your search away from the prime location of the city centre will of course bring more residential sales within your price range, but at the expense of easy access to the city.

Brighton

While in the top five for the highest salaries in England, the average income for people working in Brighton is just over £29,000, leading to limited house-buying options due to the heated property market there. Only one-bedroom flats are available for under £145,000 (above left), and in easy reach of the city centre, while a ground-floor studio flat on Stafford Road is also priced at £145,000.

London

The highest average salary is of course to be found here, at £36,184. While London is notorious for the small amount of square footage that purchasers can get for their money, there are still some viable options for first-time buyers. By widening your search criteria from a specific location to areas like Finchley, you may find the odd 2-bed house for a limited offer or for cash buyers only, otherwise for £180,000 you will be mostly looking at studios or 1-bedroom apartments. The two-bedroom house in North Finchley (above left) is priced at £170,000, while the one-bedroom lower ground floor flat on Footscray Road, Eltham, (above right) has an asking price of £180,000.

Data from 20 of the UK’s biggest cities:

UK City or TownAverage Salary10% DepositAffordable LoanThe best propertyWhat that can buy
Nottingham£23,377£10,520£105,196.5£115,716.22-bedroom apartment
Hull£25,396£11,428£114,282.0£125,710.25-bedroom house
Bradford£26,216£11,797£117,972.0£129,769.23-bedroom house
Plymouth£26,820£12,069£120,690.0£132,759.02-bedroom modern flat
Birmingham£27,175£12,229£122,287.5£134,516.32-bedroom apartment
Manchester£27,217£12,248£122,476.5£134,724.23-bedroom semi-detached house
Newcastle£28,044£12,620£126,198.0£138,817.83-bedroom semi-detached house
Liverpool£28,289£12,730£127,300.5£140,030.64-bedroom terraced house
Sheffield£28,373£12,768£127,678.5£140,446.43-bedroom semi-detached house
Derby£28,442£12,799£127,989.0£140,787.93-bedroom semi-detached house
Southampton£28,539£12,843£128,425.5£141,268.12-bedroom flat
Portsmouth£28,573£12,858£128,578.5£141,436.42-bedroom flat
Glasgow£28,836£12,976£129,762.0£142,738.23-bedroom terraced house
Leeds£29,000£13,050£130,500.0£143,550.03-bed 3-bath house
Brighton£29,144£13,115£131,148.0£144,262.81-bedroom flat
Coventry£29,476£13,264£132,642.0£145,906.23-bedroom terraced house
Reading£29,927£13,467£134,671.5£148,138.71-bedroom apartment
Cardiff£30,230£13,604£136,035.0£149,638.52-bedroom apartment
Bristol£30,867£13,890£138,901.5£152,791.71-bedroom apartment
Edinburgh£32,240£14,508£145,080.0£159,588.02-bedroom apartment
London£36,184£16,283£162,828.0£179,110.82-bedroom apartment
Source: Validus.

Best property options: final thoughts

While relying on a property search engine or an estate agency dealing in residential sales may be the main routes to finding your perfect property, it may be worth considering alternative ways to get that first step onto the property ladder, such as auction properties. There are property websites specialising in auction properties, and while good deals can be found, careful research is required before embarking on this route as it’s not the most stress free buying process.

Heading north clearly represents greater value for money as the contrast between salaries and house prices is far less dramatic. Northern cities have a lot to offer in terms of job opportunities, recreational facilities, and communication links, which could make them an attractive proposition considering the slim prospect of substantial house price reductions.

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