Where are the best UK cities for first time buyers?

Posted on Monday, February 26, 2024

Although first-time buyers could be forgiven for focussing on mortgage rates and local house prices, affordability is just one part of the puzzle when deciding where to live. 

The Co-operative Bank has carried out research to reveal the best UK cities for first-time buyers, analysing 30 cities for factors including average house prices, crime rates and life satisfaction scores to find out the top locations to invest in your first property.

Swansea is the best overall UK city for first-time buyers, offering affordable house prices, low crime rates and high life satisfaction (which is based on how satisfied current residents report being).

The average cost for first-time buyers in Swansea is £195,687 when taking into account additional fees like conveyancing (£1,483 on average in Swansea) and surveying (£420). This is among the most affordable in the country.

The Welsh city also receives a low crime score (35.5), making it a safe place to settle down, as well as a high life satisfaction score of 7.5 out of 10.

Edinburgh comes in second place, with a higher average total cost of £346,293 (including an average stamp duty price of £6,503). However, Edinburgh also has the lowest crime index score in the country (30.9), as well as the highest life satisfaction score (7.7 out of 10).

In third place is Plymouth, where the total cost for first-time buyers is £225,060. Plymouth has a slightly higher crime score (41.5) and lower life satisfaction (7.5), but a good traffic index score of 99.04.

Most affordable

Blackpool is the most affordable UK city for first-time buyers, with an average house price of just £134,092

Kingston upon Hull is the second-most affordable spot, offering a total cost of £140,814 with surveying and conveyancing fees. Stoke-on-Trent comes in third, with an average total of £143,642, followed by Sunderland (£147,319) and Belfast (£167,852).

Most expensive

London is unsurprisingly the most expensive city for first-time buyers in the UK, with the total average spend adding up to a huge £547,560.

Bristol is the second-most expensive city (£353,033), followed by Edinburgh (£346,293), Reading (£332,283) and Southend-on-Sea (£327,729).

Warren Cain, Head of Mortgage Products at The Co-operative Bank, shares tips for first-time buyers: “If you’re planning to buy your first home, the very first step is to save up money for a deposit. Typically, you’ll need to save a minimum of 10% of the cost of the property you want to buy. There are government schemes available to help you do this, like the Lifetime ISA (LISA) which lets you earn up to £1,000 extra a year through a 25% government bonus.

“You’ll also need to figure out how much you can afford to spend and create a budget. You can use tools like our mortgage calculator to see what property price you can afford or what your monthly mortgage repayment could be. Don’t forget to factor in extra costs too, like conveyancing and surveying fees.

“Finally, first-time buyers especially could benefit from using a broker. They can help you find the best mortgage to suit your needs, and explain how the market works.”

Via @PropertyReporter