Britain's least affordable city - and the best place to buy

'The Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College in Oxford, UK'
'The Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College in Oxford, UK'

It's not your imagination - it hasn't been this difficult to buy a home for the best part of a decade. New figures have revealed that on average, homes cost around six times local earnings, but in some areas things are even worse - and in one city the price of property has hit 11 times local earnings.

Least affordable

The figures, from Lloyds Bank, show that Oxford is the least affordable city in Britain. The average house price is almost 11 times average earnings in the city. This is not due to any particular wage issue - it's largely because Oxford house prices have been soaring - and now cost an average of £364,429.

The rest of the top five least affordable don't fare much better. Winchester is in second place, with houses costing 10.54 times earnings, London is third at 10.06 times, Cambridge fourth at 9.9 times and Bath fifth at 9.77 times.

Ten least affordable
Greater London
Brighton and Hove
St Albans

Prices rise

Many of these cities have earned their place in this list through rampant house price growth in recent years. Oxford, for example, has seen prices grow 39% in the past five years - pushed up both by local demand, and by the influx of London commuters. Winchester, meanwhile, has seen runaway house price growth over the past ten years - by an astonishing 79% - as it has increasingly been seen as a commuter city within reach of London.

Overall things look pretty bleak too. Home affordability has hit its worst level in eight years - as the average UK city house price has risen 8% to £211,880, taking the cost of property from 6.2 times earnings to 6.6 times. Things haven't looked this bad since the peak of the boom in 2008.

There's a significant North/South divide, with 17 of the 20 least affordable cities in southern England - and only Lichfield, Leicester and York make it from outside the South.

Most affordable

At the other end of the spectrum, Londonderry has been named as the most affordable city. The average property price in the city is £113,302 - which is 3.8 times the gross average annual earnings. Londonderry - like the rest of the top five - gains its position from the fact that house prices are relatively low.

Stirling is second, with houses costing 4.11 times earnings, Bradford is third at 4.31 times, Belfast is fourth at 4.42 times, and Hereford fifth at 4.55 times.

Ten most affordable

London Properties for Sale with a £1,000 Deposit
London Properties for Sale with a £1,000 Deposit