Escaping to the country will cost home buyers £44,454 on average - report

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Home buyers can expect to pay a premium of more than £44,000 for a countryside retreat, a report has found.

Across Britain, countryside homes are £44,454 or a fifth (20%) more expensive on average than those in urban areas, according to the annual Halifax Rural Housing Review.

Property prices in rural areas are typically 7.6 times average annual earnings, compared with a ratio of 6.5 in urban areas, the report found.

The typical rural house price-to-local earnings ratio ranges from 11.4 in North Dorset, 10.8 in Chichester and 9.9 in West Oxfordshire, to 4.1 in Copeland and East Ayrshire.

Looking across the regions, the "rural premium" is particularly steep in the West Midlands, where an average rural home costs £89,272 or 47% more than one in the region's urban areas.

The smallest gap in percentage terms was found in the East of England, where the average premium on countryside homes is £27,765 or 9%.

Although the rural premium across Britain will typically set buyers back tens of thousands of pounds, it has shrunk in recent years.

This is because urban property values have increased at a faster rate on average over the last five years, by 43% - compared with 31% for rural homes.

In 2012, the rural premium was higher - at £47,769 or 31% on average.

Richard Washington, mortgages director at Halifax, said: "Home owners looking to escape to the country can expect to pay an average premium of 20% for a property.

Housing affordability, particularly in the south of England, is putting a country home out of reach for many people, especially those looking to buy their first property."

Here are the average rural premiums in cash and percentage terms that home buyers can expect to pay across Britain, according to Halifax:

:: North East, £18,165, 12%
:: North West, £57,730, 33%
:: Yorkshire and the Humber, £52,036, 32%
:: East Midlands, £55,426, 30%
:: West Midlands, £89,272, 47%
:: East of England, £27,765, 9%
:: South East, £85,005, 26%
:: South West, £55,623, 23%
:: Scotland, £19,017, 11%
:: Wales, £20,082, 12%

Here are the most affordable rural areas in Britain, with the house price-to-local earnings ratio, according to Halifax:

=1. Copeland, North West,4.1
=1. East Ayrshire, Scotland, 4.1
3. Allerdale, North West, 4.2
=4. Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 4.6
=4. County Durham, North East, 4.6
6. Western Isles, Scotland, 4.8
7. Shetland Islands, Scotland, 5
=8. Carmarthenshire, Wales, 5.2
=8. Highland, Scotland, 5.2
10. Wyre, North West, 5.4

And here are the least affordable rural areas, with the house price-to-local earnings ratio:

1. North Dorset, South West, 11.4
2. Chichester, South East, 10.8
3. West Oxfordshire, South East, 9.9
4. Cotswold, South West, 9.8
5. Horsham, South East, 9.7
6. Winchester, South East, 9.4
=7. Waverley, South East, 9.3
=7. Sevenoaks, South East, 9.3
=9. East Hampshire, South East, 9.2
=9. West Dorset, South West, 9.2