'£44,000 premium' for home buyers to live in the countryside


Home buyers pay a premium of nearly £44,000 typically to live in the countryside, according to a report.

At £236,971 on average, a home in a rural area costs £43,490 or more than a fifth (22%) more than a property in a town or a city, according to the Halifax Rural Housing Review.

It said the gap is making it difficult for first-time buyers on average incomes in southern England in particular to get a foothold on the property ladder.

Across Britain, the biggest urban/rural house price gap was found in the West Midlands, where it costs 50% or £84,610 more to live in the countryside.

Buyers looking to live in a rural setting end up paying around seven times their annual earnings for a home, while city dwellers will pay 5.9 times their annual wage for a property typically, according to the report, which excluded London from the findings.

Tandridge in Surrey was named as the least affordable rural district in Britain, with the typical house prices there, at £433,932, costing 10.8 times local average earnings.

Buyers looking for value may want to consider Copeland in west Cumbria, which was identified as the most affordable rural district in Britain. A property there costs around £140,364, setting someone back 3.7 times the local average wage. 

The research also found that first-time buyers make up 42% of house purchases with a mortgage in rural areas, compared with 54% in urban areas.

There were huge variations across the country, with first-time buyers making up nearly two-thirds (62%) of purchases in Pendle in Lancashire compared with just 20% of purchases in Purbeck in the South West.

Craig McKinlay, mortgage director at Halifax, said: "Many home owners aspire to live in the countryside, attracted by the prospect of a better quality of life, open space and a cleaner environment.

"However, realisation of this dream comes at a cost with average property values typically over a fifth higher than in urban areas.

"A side-effect of rising property values is that housing affordability has become an increasing concern in many rural areas. This is particularly true in the South where those on average incomes find it very difficult to enter the market."

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said: "We want to ensure that anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home can turn their dream into a reality.

"We are making this happen by delivering 200,000 Starter Homes at a 20% discount - and we will change planning rules so that where there is local support, they can be built in rural villages.

"We have got Britain building again and latest figures show that new homes are up by 9% on this time last year, with more than 85,000 high quality affordable homes built in the past five years in rural areas."