The Ultimate Guide for First-Time Buyers in the UK

UK map

Being a first-time buyer can sometimes be incredibly confusing. If you’ve been out of university for a couple of years, working your way slowly up the career ladder and either renting or living with your parents, no doubt you are thinking about the future and the next steps to take. For many, buying a house will be the ultimate goal to achieve.

Of course, circumstances such as your job and family ties tend to dictate where you end up laying roots. But for those who do have the luxury of starting afresh anywhere they choose, it’s an advantage if you know what the housing situation is like in different parts of the UK. To help you out, we’ve gathered together all of the most important facts that you need to know when searching the market for your very first home: average house prices, latest changes in property prices, population and, most importantly, ‘Satisfaction With Life’ rating, all categorised by region. Read on!

London

  • Average house price – £498,000
  • 12-month % change in house prices – +5.5%
  • Average disposable annual income – £30,189
  • Population (2011 census) – 8.2 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 25.4%

London skyline

As the capital of England, the home of the UK’s government, a leading international financial centre and a culture capital of the world, London is one of the most sought after cities when it comes to jobs and houses.

There isn’t just central London to consider! There are dozens of little pockets of communities in and around London where you can settle down. Property prices are notoriously high in London, but if you’re willing to travel a bit outside the centre, you can make some savings on house prices the further out you go. However, this isn’t always guaranteed!

Why live in London?

As it is the country’s capital, it’s no surprise that London is the perfect place for anyone looking to kickstart their career; it’s a veritable hub of exciting employment opportunities. Of course, finance is one of the biggest sectors in London, but there’s also fashion, publishing and the theatre to sink your teeth into. If you make it here, you can make it anywhere (okay, that’s a cheesy line that usually refers to New York, but the same applies to London!)

Not only that, but you’ll never be bored in the Big Smoke, as there are hundreds of places to be entertained, including bars, nightclubs, theatres and cinemas. If you’re looking to work hard and play hard, London is the place for you.

As you’ll notice, London has the highest average annual disposable income in the UK, which will surprise few people. Wages in London are much higher than anywhere else in the country, which is needed if you’re looking to purchase a property around the capital. There’s no doubt that things cost more in London – just ask any Northern daytripper as they walk into a London pub for the first time! The average property price in London stands at nearly a quarter of a million (£225,000) above the national average. Despite prices being so high, competition is tough when it comes to securing a home of your own. If you have the deposit and the funds available, you’ll have to move quick to be in with a chance before someone snaps it up instead.

With competition being so high, it’s worth having some inside information from an expert in the area. Click here to browse mortgage advisers in the London region.

South East

  • Average house price – £339,000
  • 12-month % change in house prices – +6.7%
  • Average disposable annual income – £19,160
  • Population (2011 census) – 8.6 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 30.1%

South East

Amongst the hustle and bustle of London, we can sometimes forget that there is more to the south of the country than huge cities. The south east seamlessly blends together cities, quaint villages, beautiful countryside and gorgeous coastlines, not to mention the slightly higher-than-average temperatures, to create something you won’t find anywhere else. There’s a reason they call it the ‘Beautiful South’.

Higher life expectancy

Fancy living a little longer than average? Then the south east is the place to go. According to a study led by Public Health England, published in The Lancet, the south east “has the lowest disease burden” and one of the highest life expectancies in the country of 82.4 years. It’s difficult to say exactly why people in the south east live such long and happy lives, but we’re not going to argue with cold, hard statistics!

Why live in the south east?

According to the National Well-Being Program, the south east has the highest ‘Satisfaction With Life’ rating in the entire country at 30.1%. There must be something in the water!

Speaking of water, a huge part of the south east is actually coastline. So, if you do love to be beside the seaside, then the south east could be perfect for you.

Here, house prices are considered to be slightly above the national average, although not as steep as London. That being said, the very nature of this region means it could be the perfect spot for your ‘forever home’. If you’re thinking of settling down for the long term, it could well be worth the investment of a more expensive house, rather than moving every couple of years or so.

South West

  • Average house price – £250,000
  • 12-month % change in house prices – +4.2%
  • Average disposable annual income – £16,893
  • Population (2011 census) – 5.3 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 29.7%

South West

The south west of England has a reputation for offering stunning natural beauty and extraordinary historical landmarks. Stonehenge, the Roman Baths, Glastonbury Abbey and the Eden Project are naming only a few. It is also home to the longest coastline in the country, and is filled with dozens of quaint seaside and fishing towns if you’re looking to escape from the city.

Why live in the south west?

House prices in the south west of England are actually the lowest in the entire southern half of the country, although an average of £250,000 is still steep for many first time buyers. However, if you’re looking to buy a home that you’ll stay in for a number of years, the time may be right now, as the last 12 months saw an increase in the average house price for this area of 4.2%.

Despite the above average house prices, the south west is one of the happiest places to live in the country. It has a ‘Satisfaction With Life’ rating of 29.7%, which isn’t too shabby at all.

Scotland

  • Average house price – £207,000
  • 12-month % change in house prices – -1.3%
  • Average disposable annual income – £17,543
  • Population (2011 census) – 5.3 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 28.7%

Scotland

Breathtaking views, rich food and an incredible history that dates back centuries, Scotland is a wonderful place to settle down. After London, Edinburgh boasts one of the biggest financial centres in the UK, meaning it is a thriving hub for those working in business or finance. On the other hand, the city of Aberdeen, with its traditional industries of fishing and textiles, has become an engineering and mining capital since the discovery of North Sea oil off the coast. No matter where you choose to live in Scotland, there is no doubt that it has a bright and exciting future ahead.

Outside of your career, you will always find plenty to explore in Scotland. Once you have finished meandering around the cities, getting lost amongst the old cobbled streets or immersing yourself in the country’s rich historic castles and buildings, you can head out into the wild countryside. A brisk and windy walk along the coastline or taking in the beautiful view of a loch or two are just a couple of ways to spend your time. The 2014 Commonwealth Games also helped to highlight the vast amount of progress that Glasgow – Scotland’s largest city – is making. It’s certainly a city that is on the up.

Why live in Scotland?

As you will see above, the average house price in Scotland currently hovers around the £207,000 mark. While this may be slightly higher than other northern regions of the UK, it’s well worth looking at the long-term prospects of Scotland. While other parts of the country have experienced an increase in house prices over the past 12 months, Scotland has actually seen a rather significant decrease of 1.3% on average. So if you’re currently weighing up your options on where to settle down, it might be wise to strike while the iron is hot if you fancy moving to Scotland.

Midlands (East & West)

  • Average house price – £196,000
  • 12 month % change in house prices – +4.95%
  • Average disposable annual income – £17,183
  • Population (2011 census) – 10.1 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 28.0%

Birmingham

In amongst the media’s obsession with the north/south divide, the Midlands can often get lost somewhere along the way. And while Birmingham is often considered to be England’s Second City, it’s arguably overshadowed by places like Manchester, but underestimate Birmingham at your peril. It’s a fantastic place to live.

What careers does the Midlands offer?

The Midlands played a huge part in the country’s Industrial Revolution, and this is something that has never really died out. Birmingham is home to one of the headquarters of Jaguar and Land Rover, offering a huge range of jobs across a number of different sectors from marketing and PR to engineering and manufacturing. Did you know that the Midlands is also home to the Walkers crisps headquarters (in Leicester)?

Why live in the Midlands?

Although a little higher than other areas of the country, in the grand scheme of things, house prices in the Midlands aren’t actually too high. Although they have remained, on average, under the £200,000 mark, the last 12 months saw an increase in prices of 4.95%. Combined, the East and West Midlands have an average population of 10.1 million. Of course, like with most places it’s not always practical to assess the Midlands as one single entity, such is the sheer size of it. Places like Derby and Nottingham have undergone significant regeneration in recent years, and are increasingly popular cities to live in.

If Birmingham has sparked your fancy, don’t forget to take a closer look at mortgage advisers in the area, to give you the best advice on house prices and areas to explore.

North West

  • Average house price – £177,000
  • 12 month % change in house prices – +3.7%
  • Average disposable annual income – £15,659
  • Population (2011 census) – 7.1 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 29.21%

Manchester_Skyline

Manchester is often considered to be the capital city of the North, but there is so much more to the North West! Liverpool lies to the west, the historical walled city of Chester is a little further south, and if you venture further northwards you will discover places such as Preston, Blackpool and Lancaster. The north west is huge, and there’s certainly plenty to keep you busy. Take the motorway north and you’ll come across the beautiful Lake District, and the coast is never too far away if you fancy a seaside visit to Morecambe, Southport or Formby.

Why live in the north west?

You may have heard about something recently called the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. This government initiative will see powers devolved from Westminster into northern city councils, giving them more authority to make decisions that affect people who actually live in the region. It is hoped that this drive will help to narrow the economic gap between the North and London.

However, even before the Northern Powerhouse was announced, cities in this area began to grow on their own. Manchester is fast becoming one of the most economically-thriving cities in Europe and numerous businesses have made it their home, including fashion chain Boohoo.com. More recently, the BBC and ITV established themselves at MediaCityUK in Salford, creating thousands of jobs. If you specialise in media or the creative industries, Liverpool and Manchester are two perfect cities for you.

The north west also has one of the lowest average house prices in the country. At £177,000, it stands £96,000 below the national average. There’s also more space, so the houses tend to be a little bigger than in London – perfect if you’re looking to settle down rather than starting small and moving up the ladder. That being said, £96,000 is a huge saving and could really make a difference when it comes to the deposit and the monthly mortgage payments. Also bear in mind that transport links between Manchester and London are improving all the time, so even if you work in the capital, you can still live in the North.

Our registered mortgage advisers work in and around cities such as Manchester; finding the best deals to suit you.

Yorkshire and the Humber

  • Average house price – £177,000
  • 12 month % change in house prices – +4.7%
  • Average disposable annual income – £16,007
  • Population (2011 census) – 5.3 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 28.3%

Yorkshire

Often nicknamed ‘God’s Own Country’, Yorkshire is one of the largest regions in England and has a rich history that dates back to the Viking and Roman times. If you love to explore, Yorkshire is home to three National Parks and two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Just a short drive east you will find the breathtaking coastline for weekend trips to the seaside. Dozens of historical sights to explore, theme parks, museums and shopping centres to satisfy even the biggest shopaholic, you will certainly never be bored.

Perfect for budding professionals

Although the Northern Powerhouse spotlight has (arguably) mostly been focused on cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, the government has big plans for locations in Yorkshire. Major cities in this area such as Leeds and Sheffield will no doubt benefit from the plans too. For young professionals looking to build a career, Yorkshire is a fantastic place to settle down. Leeds is well placed for those in the legal sector, as well as financial and professional services and even advanced manufacturing. Locations in the Humber are appealing to professionals in industries such as energy and logistics.

Why live in Yorkshire?

The wonderful thing about Yorkshire, is that it strikes the perfect balance between city and countryside. Take Leeds for example. The centre is a buzzing and thriving concrete jungle full of intellect and excitement. But drive 20 minutes in any direction and you will find yourself amongst the rolling green hills and fields of Yorkshire. And with the average house price currently being one of the lowest in the country, there certainly is a lure to living in Yorkshire.

Wales

  • Average house price – £173,000
  • 12 month % change in house prices – +0.3%
  • Average disposable annual income – £15,367
  • Population (2011 census) – 3.1 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 28.7%

Wales

From the National Park of Snowdonia to the vibrant southern city of Cardiff, and everything in between, Wales is a place with so much to offer. If you enjoy exploring the countryside, you’ll find yourself getting lost in beautiful walks every single weekend. If you love shopping, the country’s biggest city centres will keep you busy for hours on end. And if you can’t resist a bit of adrenaline, North Wales is home to the longest zipline in the world. Talk about a key selling point!

Why live in Wales?

Apart from the stunning countryside, moving to Wales would be a much simpler process compared to other regions in the UK. The average house price here is £173,000, and with a population of just 3.1 million for the entire country, there is a high chance you will get more building for your buck over in Wales, and with less competition to boot!

Wales is also, albeit rather quietly, building a strong reputation as a burgeoning tech hub. From automotives and electronics to software and even specialist aerospace technology, those who work in engineering or manufacturing will be sure to find a rewarding career here.

North East

  • Average house price – £157,000
  • 12 month % change in house prices – -0.7%
  • Average disposable annual income – £15,578
  • Population (2011 census) – 2.6 million
  • Satisfaction With Life rating – 28.6%

North East

Home to the Angel of the North, this part of the country has plenty going for it. It is here you can pay a visit to Hadrian’s Wall, or the historic city of Durham, or the vast and rocky shores of Northumberland. So when you think about settling down in your career and purchasing a house, don’t forget that the north east has a lot to offer.

If you have a hands-on specialty like manufacturing, production or engineering, then the north east is going to do wonders for your career. The city of Sunderland is home to the Nissan car factory, whilst Newcastle – once renowned as a key manufacturing hub – has fast become a cosmopolitan city that attracts all manner of businesses from a wide range of industry sectors.

Why live in the north east?

One of the biggest benefits of moving to the north east is that the burden of house prices is much less significant. With the lowest in the country, the average price of a house in the north east is £157,000 and if that wasn’t enough, house prices in this region over the past 12 months actually saw a decrease of 0.7%.

As you will also see from the statistics above, the population of the north east, as of the 2011 census, was the lowest for any region in the UK. Although it is likely that these figures will have changed since then, having fewer people does come with its benefits, the main one being that competition for houses will be lower (this isn’t always an exact science, mind!). Not only can this mean cheaper house prices (as it has done in the north east) but it may also mean you stand a better chance of landing the house of your dreams.

Newcastle is one of the biggest cities in the north east. If you think you could find your dream home here, make sure you get expert help from local mortgage advisers who know the area best.

What next?

Phew! Well done! You made it through our guide. Now as comprehensive as it is, it is essential that you conduct your own research into the regions you fancy most in order to get a good idea of where would be the best place for you to live. One of the best ways to do this is to speak to a local mortgage adviser based in the area you are considering. They will be able to give you advice on house prices in the area and guide you through the entire mortgage application process. Like a personal tour guide for buying your own home!

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