The most affordable UK city revealed


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City living has become less affordable over the last year amid surging house prices, a report has found.

The price of a home in a large town or city has grown by 5% over the last year to reach £184,215 on average or 5.8 times someone's average earnings according to research by Lloyds Bank.

A year ago, a home buyer would have had to stretch themselves slightly less as city house prices typically cost 5.6 times wages at that time.

Stirling in Scotland and Londonderry in Northern Ireland were named as the UK's most affordable cities to live in, with house prices in those areas typically costing 3.3 times and 3.6 times local earnings respectively.

The UK's most affordable cities are clustered in Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England, with Glasgow, Belfast, Lisburn, Bradford, Lancaster and Salford all featuring among the most affordable urban areas to live.

At the other end of the spectrum, Oxford was found to be the least affordable place to live, with people there facing a property price tag which is over 11 times the local wage, followed by Winchester, which has a house price-to-earnings ratio of 9.7.

Truro, Bath and Brighton made up the top five list of "least affordable" places to live, while Westminster in central London came in seventh place. Although property prices in Westminster are among the highest in the UK, relatively high earnings in the heart of London stopped Westminster from coming higher on the list.

York was the only northern city to make the line-up of the UK's least affordable cities, at number 20.
A home in York costs nearly six times average wages, while one in nearby cities like Hull and Sheffield would set someone back just over four and-a-half times their earnings.

The average house price in Oxford is £340,864 - which is around two-and-a-half times the price of a typical home in Stirling at £132,734.

The report pointed to the large numbers of people living in Oxford who commute to London to work as part of the reason why house prices there are particularly out of step with local wages. A year ago, a house in Oxford cost 9.8 times local earnings.

The UK housing market has picked up sharply in some areas over the last year amid Government schemes such as Help to Buy which have unleashed a wave of fresh demand into the property market from people who had previously struggled to get access to a mortgage.

But critics of Government mortgage initiatives have argued that the supply of homes coming to the market is not keeping up with growing demand, which they say is putting an upward pressure on house prices and putting some buyers in danger of over-stretching themselves.

Pundits have said mortgage borrowers should start thinking now about how they will cope when the Bank of England base rate eventually starts to climb back up again. The bank rate has been at a historic low for five years, helping to keep mortgage payments relatively affordable.

Despite affordability worsening over the last year, the cost of buying a city home has improved compared with the peak of the market in 2008, when property prices in cities cost around 7.2 times earnings. Affordability is also slightly better than 10 years ago, with urban property prices costing 5.9 times wages typically in 2004.

Despite sluggish wage increases in recent years, Lloyds said that average earnings for people living in cities have risen by 23% over the last decade, while city house prices have seen 22% growth.

Marc Page, Lloyds Bank mortgages director, said: "Over the last five to 10 years, affordability has marginally improved in most UK cities, as increases in earnings have kept up with house price rises in that time.

"However, the economic and lifestyle benefits often associated with residing in cities are continuing to drive demand, especially in the south of England. With city house prices continuing to rise, affordability deteriorated slightly last year, but the trend since 2009 is positive for the majority of UK cities."

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: "We're determined to ensure anyone who works hard and wants to get on the property ladder has the help they need to do so wherever they live, which is why we've introduced schemes like Help to Buy, which enable people to buy with a fraction of the deposit they would normally need.

"Since 2010, we've been helping over 110,000 people become homeowners through our schemes, and our efforts to cut the record deficit we inherited has helped keep interest rates at a record low, and home ownership is now at its most affordable since 2007.

"Leading developers have said they'll build more as a direct result of this increased demand, on top of the 420,000 new homes we've delivered since 2010."

Lloyds used the house price database of sister bank Halifax for its research as well as Office for National Statistics (ONS) earnings figures.

Halifax reported last week that house prices across the whole of the UK lifted by 7.9% year-on-year in February, marking the strongest annual growth seen since 2007. But it also said that UK-wide, house prices are still sitting at around 10% below their pre-financial crisis peak.

Some 62 large towns and cities across the UK were analysed for the research. City of London, Wells, Armagh, Ripon, St Davids, St Asaph and Bangor were excluded due to small sample sizes.

:: Here are the UK's most affordable cities and the typical house price-to-earnings ratio according to
Lloyds Bank:

1. Stirling, Scotland, 3.30

2. Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 3.56

3. Newry, Northern Ireland, 3.90

4. Belfast, Northern Ireland, 4.12

5. Bradford, Yorkshire and the Humber, 4.15

6. Lancaster, North West, 4.28

7. Lisburn, Northern Ireland, 4.29

8. Salford, North West, 4.45

9. Glasgow, Scotland, 4.51

10. Durham, North, 4.60

11. Hull, Yorkshire and the Humber, 4.64

12. Sheffield, Yorkshire and the Humber, 4.72

13. Sunderland, North, 4.76

14. Liverpool, North West, 4.77

=15. Manchester, North West, 4.78

=15. Hereford, West Midlands, 4.78

17. Swansea, Wales, 4.79

=18. Birmingham, West Midlands, 4.85

=18. Derby, East Midlands, 4.85

=18. Stoke On Trent, West Midlands, 4.85

:: And here are the UK's least affordable cities and the typical house price-to-earnings ratio
according to Lloyds Bank:

1. Oxford, South East, 11.25

2. Winchester, South East, 9.65

3. Truro, South West, 8.57

4. Bath, South West, 8.05

5. Brighton And Hove, South East, 7.94

6. Chichester, South East, 7.71

7. Westminster, Greater London, 7.60

8. Salisbury, South West, 7.40

9. Cambridge, East Anglia, 7.32

10. Southampton, South East, 7.15

11. Exeter, South West, 6.95

12. Bristol, South West, 6.82

13. Canterbury, South East, 6.75

14. Norwich, East Anglia, 6.69

15. St Albans, South East, 6.53

16. Chelmsford, South East, 6.39

17. Portsmouth, South East, 6.20

18. Lichfield, West Midlands, 6.13

19. Leicester, East Midlands, 6.07

20. York, Yorkshire and the Humber, 5.98

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