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The most and least affordable cities to buy property in the UK

Purchasing property, whether you’re up or down-sizing, securing a buy-to-let investment, or taking your first steps onto the property ladder is no small feat. Particularly in today’s financial landscape, where there are less help-to-buy schemes available, renting costs are soaring, and the cost of living crisis continues to put pressure on everyone, setting aside enough money to build a deposit can be a challenge. As difficult as things have got, however, owning your own home or making a new investment doesn’t need to be impossible – especially when you put location affordability first.

To help you do just that, we’ve put together our own research on where the most (and least) affordable cities in the UK to purchase property are, taking the average house price versus the average salary in each place to estimate how affordable it is for buyers to live and work there. So, if you’re asking yourself where the best places to buy property are according to the affordability index, or you’d like to know more about how to calculate this for yourself, stay with us as we kick start your research.

How to calculate housing affordability

Housing affordability is calculated by dividing average house prices by average annual earnings in any given area. This is known as the price-to-income ratio, and is used to determine how cost-effective a location is to live and work. Fortunately for buyers starting their research, these figures are easy to find (in our full analysis of the most affordable cities to buy a home below, we’ve used Zoopla’s sold prices index and salary figures from the Office of National Statistics, which are reliable and free sources) and the calculation is very simple to do. 

We’ve included the base formula for housing affordability below:

Price-to-income ratio =

Average house price

Average annual salary*

* In most instances, including our own research, the ‘average annual salary’ refers only to workplace-based gross annual earnings for full-time workers. As such, it does not take into account part-time workers or individuals who are self employed. So, if this is more representative of your buyer position, it may be worth switching annual salary averages with those of your own profession.

What is the ratio of house prices to income in the UK?

Using the house price to earnings ratio calculation, we can see that the affordability ratio for the UK as a whole comes to 8.8. This number effectively means that, when you ignore additional expenses, such as living costs, mortgages and taxes, you would need to work for almost nine years before saving enough to purchase a house in the UK. This figure is made more accurate for cash buyers paying the full amount for a property upfront, as it means you don’t have interest to pay on top of it to a lender, but it is still a useful indicator of affordability to mortgage buyers.

To give you a visual to replicate in your own research, we’ve input the UK average figures into the formula below:

UK price-to-income ratio =

Average UK house price

Average UK annual salary*

8.8 =



*Average UK house price accurate as of July 2023, according to the ONS House Price Index.

**Median annual pay for full-time employees in the UK for the last tax year (ending April 2022), according to the ONS Employee earnings in the UK: 2022 report.

The 8.8 ratio is intimidating upon first glance, but keep in mind that this figure also accounts for the least affordable places in the UK (including London) which has inflated the result. It’s also important to remember that this equation should be used as an indication of affordability only, not taken as a definitive measure of whether or not you can afford to purchase a house. The more locations you consider and compare, the better idea you’ll have of where has the best affordability.

Property affordability by city

To get your research started, we’ve included a full list below of every city in England and Scotland, ranked in order of their affordability. The information shown is correct as of October 2023.

No.CityAvg. Yearly SalaryAvg. Property ValuePrice-to-Income Ratio
1Kingston upon Hull£30,316£148,9434.91
17Newcastle upon Tyne£31,668£223,0047.04
38Milton Keynes£36,244£349,3219.64
58Brighton and Hove£32,240.£541,76716.80
61City of London£56,628£1,089,75719.24
62St Albans£31,928£672,37921.06
63City of Westminster£44,720£1,801,76040.29

Where is the most affordable place in the UK to buy a house?

The most affordable city in the UK to purchase a property according to our calculations, and the only place which has a price-to-income ratio of below five, is Kingston upon Hull. Sitting below the UK’s average salary by almost £3K, and with an average property sale price of £148,943 (which is almost half the UK average), Hull’s ratio of 4.91 makes it a good place to consider purchasing property for those limited by budget. 

After Hull, the next most affordable cities include Stoke-on-Trent, Aberdeen, Sunderland and Dundee, all of which have price-to-earnings ratios of between 5 and 6. It’s interesting to see Aberdeen on this list as, despite the average house price sitting below the UK average (as it does in all of the most affordable areas), the city’s average annual salary sits above the UK’s £33K average. This would suggest that achieving a comfortable lifestyle in this famous Scottish city is an achievable goal, particularly with the area’s position as a leader in the offshore petroleum industry offering well-paying jobs.

No.City Avg. Yearly Salary Avg. Property ValuePrice-to-Income Ratio
1Kingston upon Hull£30,316£148,9434.91

Where is the least affordable place in the UK to buy a house?

Unsurprisingly, with its reputation for high cost of living and near-impenetrable property market, London’s City of Westminster has been ranked as the least affordable place in the UK to purchase a property. This remains to be the case, despite the above-average annual salary of almost £45K, due to the average sold price from the last 12 months coming to £1.8M, which is 6.2 times higher than the UK average.

After the City of Westminster, we also see St Albans and the City of London rounding out the list of the top-three least affordable cities, while the non-London-based cities of Winchester and Wells take the last spots on our list.

No.City Avg. Yearly Salary Avg. Property ValuePrice-to-Income Ratio
1City of Westminster£44,720£1,801,76040.29
2St Albans£31,928£672,37921.01
3City of London£56,628£1,089,75719.24

How to use housing affordability in your own research

While the lists included above are a good first-marker of affordability across the UK, due to the price-to-earnings ratio only taking into account two data sources and not more granular, situation-specific costs, they should be used as an estimate only. Fortunately, however, once you have a basic understanding of the formula, you can begin to build on it to better suit your specific circumstances. 

In order to do this, you’ll first need to start with our original formula:

Price-to-income ratio =

Average house price

Average annual salary

From here, the first step to make the affordability rating more accurate for you is to be more specific with the data gathered for the ‘Average house price’ and ‘Average annual salary’. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Average house price: To make this a more accurate figure for your situation, take only the average sold prices for the type of property you’re looking to buy. For example, if you only want a terraced house in Manchester, rather than using the city-wide average (£247,779), use the average sale price of that house type over the last 12 months (£220,303).
  • Average annual salary: Similarly to house prices, the annual salary figure can be substituted for something closer to your specific needs. In this case, you may already have a position lined up, in which case include your actual salary in place of an average. Alternatively, you can look at the averages for certain industries and job roles in that area. In our example, we’ve chosen to look at the average salary for a nurse in Manchester, which comes to £35,224.

Manchester price-to-income ratio =

Average terrace house price

Average annual nurse salary

6.25 =



When we include these more specific figures into the formula, as shown above, we can see that the affordability ratio of a nurse buying a terraced house in Manchester is 6.25. This is lower than the overall city price-to-earnings ratio of 7.33, which helps to show that the more specific you are in your data, the more useful the final figure will be in helping you to make your decision of where to buy property.

With the initial data sources more unique to your search, the next step in improving the accuracy of your affordability calculation is to take into account any additional circumstances and add them into the equation. There’s no limit to how specific you can be (as long as all of your annual incomings and outgoings are included), and just some of the additions you can make include:

  • Partner salary: If you’re looking to purchase a house with another person, you can combine your salaries into one overall annual earning. As with the above, you can make this calculation specific to you, so if a nurse in Manchester (£35,224) was buying a property with their partner, who worked as retail store manager (£31,680), these salaries can be combined to make the household total.

Manchester price-to-income ratio =

Average terrace house price

Average annual nurse salary + average annual store manager salary

3.29 =


£35,224 + £31,680

  • Annual taxes: Once you’ve got your annual gross salaries, you can then begin to account for your outgoings, including income tax. To estimate this, you can use the Government’s income tax calculator, to get your income tax and national insurance contributions, and remove this to be able to input your net salary in the formula, as we have below. In this case, the average nurse salary after tax (£35,224 – £7,247.48) is £27,976.52, and the average annual store manager salary after tax (£31,680 – £6,113.40) is £25,566.60.

Manchester price-to-income ratio =

Average terrace house price

(Average annual nurse salary after tax) + (average annual store manager salary after tax)

4.11 =


(£27,976.52) + (£25,566.60)

  • Annual bills: Another outgoing cost which you may wish to consider on top of your tax and national insurance contributions are your annual bills. In the example we’ve been working with, we can take the average cost for running a 2-bed terraced home to be £1,288.02 (this accounts for gas and electricity). However, you can be as specific as you want here, accounting for everything from home running costs (including energy bills, TV & broadband subscriptions, and home insurance) to personal outgoings (such as phone contracts, estimated grocery shops and holidays). This is something that mortgage lenders will consider when doing their own calculations, so if you are looking to finance your home purchase in this way, we recommend taking this into account too.

Manchester price-to-income ratio =

Average terrace house price

(Combined take-home annual salary) – (average annual gas & electricity bills)

Manchester price-to-income ratio =


(£53,543.12) – (£1,288.02)

4.22 =



With these additional components of joint salary, tax contributions and household expenses included, the affordability calculation becomes more accurate and useful. In our example, we see the final estimation of the price-to-income ratio for a couple buying a terraced property in Manchester come to 4.22, which is significantly more attractive than the city’s base average affordability rating of 7.33. 

It’s important to note that, while calculations such as this one are great for buyers researching where they can afford to buy property, mortgage lenders considering applications do not use exactly the same formula when determining how much they are willing to lend. This is because lenders consider a wider range of factors, including current interest rates, deposit percentages, job stability and more, which cannot be accounted for when looking at average affordability alone. 

Find an affordable property with SDL Property Auctions

Wherever you decide to purchase property, whether you’re looking for a city with a good affordability, or one which balances cost with strong salaries in your sector, start your property search with SDL Property Auctions. We have a wide range of properties available across the UK, including the most affordable cities highlighted in our research. To find your ideal property, use our Property Finder and filter by location by typing in your city of choice.