With the UK’s current economic uncertainty, it’s not easy to decide when, or if, to move home. More than ever, affordability is many people’s main consideration before moving, so we want to highlight the 10 cheapest places to live in the UK right now.
PE – the key to affordability
There are so many factors to figuring out how cheap or expensive an area is. Ongoing costs of living are important, but the ‘bar to entry’ cost of moving to a new area is the price of its housing. The ‘Price to Earnings’ ratio, or PE, of an area is how much properties cost on average, compared to the average amount people living there earn each year.
PE is usually expressed as ‘X’ times average earnings. Therefore, a PE ratio of 5 would mean that, on average, properties in the area cost 5 times the amount people living there earn in a year. PE ratios are also useful indicators of affordability for renters, as rental markets are influenced by overall area house prices.
10 cheapest places to live in the UK
While PE ratios aren’t the full story of an area’s affordability, they do give a useful first impression. Now it’s time to look at the top 10 cheapest places to live in the UK, according to their PE ratios. This data is drawn from mortgage lender Halifax’s latest report on the UK’s most affordable cities, covering the period August 2022 to August 2023.
Current average house prices are all taken from Zoopla’s current data at the time of writing – November 2023. All averages are formed from the past 12 months of collected data.
Average house price: £118,655
PE ratio: 3.7
The Lancashire town of Burnley has a rich history that reaches right back past its former mill town days in the Industrial Revolution and to Medieval Times. It’s 700-year-old market is still going strong today! Well connected with solid transport links, good schools on offer, a rich arts and leisure scene, there’s plenty to like in this popular part of northwest England.
9: North Ayrshire
Average house price: £151,022
PE ratio: 3.5
Offering easy access to the stunning West Coast of Scotland, North Ayrshire is frequently voted one of the best places in the UK to buy a home. Now according to Halifax’s data, it’s also among the cheapest!
8: North Lanarkashire
Average house price: £155,525
PE ratio: 3.5
Conveniently placed right in the heart of Scotland, North Lanarkshire stretches from Stepps to Harthill. It’s an area on the up and up, with fresh investment coming in as part of the £1.2 billion Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal. With an extremely competitive property market, excellent connectivity to the rest of the UK and rising job prospects, it’s attracting newcomers of all kinds.
Average house price: £137,124
PE ratio: 3.4
This Lancashire town is famous throughout the UK and beyond for its heyday as a seaside pleasure town. While the glory years may have passed, Blackpool still retains much of its charm, providing an sizeable annual influx of tourists an unforgettable time. Living here permanently offers many of the advantages of living in a close-knit town community with a great sense of self, but with plenty of fanfare and excitement during the tourist high season.
Average house price: £185,787
PE ratio: 3.4
Found on the East Coast of Scotland, Dundee is famous for more than the cake! Investment has poured into the city in recent years, and the regenerated areas are a big success. Packed with cultural attractions and solid nightlife offerings, Dundee is also extremely well connected. There are also plenty of great schools and a reliably low crime rate here.
5: West Dunbartonshire
Average house price: £161,737
PE ratio: 3.3
Occupying a northwestern toehold of Glasgow and reaching up into the world-famous Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, West Dunbartonshire contains many of Glasgow’s popular commuter towns and villages while also appealing to those who love the great outdoors.
Average house price: £146,526
PE ratio: 3.3
Compact, cultured and convivial, Hull is a great place to explore and enjoy. Full of winding streets with unique independent shops and eateries, it has a lot going on wherever you choose to settle. As the UK City of Culture 2017, its cultural offering has only become stronger with time. It’s also a great city for enjoying, and potentially buying, period homes from Georgian townhouses to Victorian terraced options.
3: East Ayrshire
Average house price: £154,243
PE ratio: 3.3
We’re back to Ayrshire again, this time covering the eastern part of the region, covering Kilmarnock and a good slice of the A47 leading down to Cumnock. These two towns make up the majority of East Ayrshire’s population, and both are pleasant, popular and eminently affordable places to live.
2: Dumfries and Galloway
Average house price: £180,893
PE ratio: 3.2
Dumfries and Galloway is a truly beautiful part of Scotland extending from the English border eastwards to the Irish Sea. It encompasses wild and evocative rocky coastlines of sandy beaches, as well as acres of verdant forest and green spaces further north. If you want to enjoy the natural beauty of Scotland with easy access to England, you can’t do better than here.
Average house price: £161,264
PE ratio: 2.9
Inverclyde is another stunning section of Scotland that follows the River Clyde round until it empties into the Firth of Clyde and then out into the Irish Sea. It may be one of Scotland’s smallest regions but it does carry a big name and a bigger welcome to both tourists and newcomers looking to settle. Port Glasgow, Greenock and Gourock are the main towns while picturesque villages dot the landscape that looks out onto the sumptuous view that the Clyde offers.
Main cost factors to consider when looking to move to a new area
2023 is a tricky time for the UK, economically speaking. Though the gas price hikes impacting heating bills and general inflation levels have calmed down, people all over the country are still feeling the squeeze. This makes it all the more important to understand how cheap or expensive an area is before planning to move there.
Hopefully, our list gives you a good idea of what PE means and how important it is. However, working out the true affordability of an area means looking at it from many different angles. These are the main cost factors to bear in mind before making the big move.
While food prices in the UK don’t vary massively from region to region, there are differences to consider. What kind of supermarkets are close to where you want to live? Are there local markets and small businesses to buy from? How will this impact your food shopping options and realistic costs?
Working out a rough estimate of your monthly food shopping choices and costs can be helpful. Since food is a constant expense, it’s worth bearing in mind when seeking a new place to live. While the cheapest places to live in the UK may not feature much difference in food prices, it’s still an important factor.
As well as the daily essentials, you also need to factor in the likely costs attached to the cultural, nightlife, dining and general entertainment scenes of your target area. It’s easy enough to get a rough idea of restaurant, pub and club prices via a quick online search. For cultural and entertainment experiences, their respective websites should have their associated prices on display.
Take a little time to figure out what kind of things you would like to be doing in your new village, town or city. This should help you work out the cost of living there, beyond the basics.
One easily overlooked cost factor is your transport options. Will you be using public transport? If so, how much will it cost per month? If not, will you have to drive everywhere? What will be the associated costs in terms of fuel, parking and other expenses like taxes and insurance?
How you get around in your new area is a key consideration, one that comes with a significant cost implication.
We hope that this list has opened your eyes to the possibilities for cheaper city living in the UK. Check back here in the future for further highlights on the most affordable areas you can find across the country. The cheapest places to live in the UK are always changing as new investments and market forces change the housing markets there.
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