Rural properties less affordable than city living

16 September 2008 / by Daniela Gieseler
Buying a property in the countryside is financially far more challenging than in the city as buyers have to pay the price for their rural idyll, three separate Rural Housing Reviews by Halifax and Bank of Scotland for England, Scotland and Wales found.

While the average house price in rural Scotland is 13 per cent higher than the average city property, or £186,446 as opposed to £164,517, British buyers have to fork out 15 per cent more and Welsh buyers a whopping 22 per cent more for country living compared to city living.

The average house price in rural Scotland is about the same as in Wales with £186,105, but it is 21 per cent under the average across rural Great Britain, which is £235,324.

Homeowners in British cities pay on average £204,290. The ten most expensive rural areas in England are all located in the south, topped by Chiltern in Buckinghamshire with average property prices of £448,635.

Prices have risen steeply since 2003 in some rural areas such as the Western Isles in Scotland (172 per cent), the Isle of Anglesey (120 per cent) or Gwynedd (98 per cent) in Wales.

Securing mortgage funding will also prove more challenging for rural properties as the ratio between the average annual earnings and property prices is a lot higher than in urban areas: 5.9 times average annual earnings as opposed to 5.2 in Scotland, 6.5 as opposed to 5.3 in Wales and 7.3 as opposed to 6.1 in England.

The strain the property crisis puts on would-be homeowners who struggle to get a first time buyer mortgage is also more visible in the countryside as first time buyers account for only around 20 per cent in rural areas and, with 28 per cent, a slightly higher number in Wales where the proportion higher in urban areas as well.

The social housing stock is also much lower in rural areas compared to the cities, with 10 per cent in Scotland, just 4 per cent in Wales and 13 per cent in England.

Suren Thiru, economist at Halifax and Bank of Scotland, commented on the results: "Housing in rural areas is less affordable than in urban areas due to a combination of higher average prices and lower average earnings. The difficulties for home buyers in rural locations are particularly acute among first time buyers and are exacerbated by relatively low levels of social housing provision."

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