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Can you afford to buy a home in the UK’s ‘best’ towns and cities?

Check out our interactive map to locate the best bargains

Winchester, the Hampshire city famed for its thousand year-old cathedral, is the best place to live in the UK for quality of life, according to a recent survey by the Halifax. But what does it really cost to buy a home in one of the nation’s most sought-after areas?

Halifax’s annual ‘Quality of Life Survey’ lists the top 50 local authority districts to live in based on a range of factors including earnings, health, employment and well-being.

We’ve looked at the average house prices in the UK’s top districts, identifying where prices are on the up and where you could relocate for a happy and healthy life and bag a property bargain.

  • If you’re thinking of buying a home and need some impartial advice on your mortgage options, call Which? Mortgage Advisers on 0808 252 7987.

Property prices in the 10 best places in the UK

Winchester comes out top in Halifax’s research, praised for its excellent schools, low crime rates and local attractions. But it probably won’t come as a surprise that you have to pay top dollar to live the good life here – the average house price is a whopping £400,125, well above the UK average of £219,544.

In fact, just six of the top 50 areas uncovered by the survey, and only one of the top 10, have average prices below the overall UK average.

The table below shows the top 10 areas rated as having the highest quality of life and their average house prices.

Local authority Place on the Quality of Life Survey Average house price (Dec 2016) 12-month price increase
Winchester (South East) 1st £400,125 + 5.34%
Orkney Islands (Scotland) 2nd £126,244 + 6.21%
Wychavon (West Midlands) 3rd £265,440 + 12.41%
Derbyshire Dales (East Midlands) 4th £241,664 + 3.52%
Hambleton (Yorkshire & The Humber) 5th £237,364 + 5.52%
South Cambridgeshire (East of England) 6th £365,022 + 7%
Purbeck (South West) 7th £317,377 + 9.52%
St.Albans (East of England) 8th £507,303 + 8.49%
Wokingham (South East) 9th £431,309 + 9.59%
Chiltern (South East) 10th £552,929 + 10.16%

Explore the cost of the top 50 areas with our interactive map

Wondering how your home town fared in the survey? This interactive map shows the geographical spread of the top 50 areas. To find out the average property price in each district, simply hover your mouse over the house icons below.

Where are the property bargains?

For home buyers in search of a bargain, the cheapest homes are in Scotland – with the Orkney Islands (2nd overall) and the Shetland Islands (18th) the most affordable places to live.

If upping sticks to the Scottish Isles isn’t really an option for you, don’t worry, because there are some great deals available on the mainland too. The table below shows the six areas in the top 50 where property prices are below the overall UK average.

Local authority Place on the Quality of Life Survey House price (Dec 2016) 12-month price increase
Orkney Islands (Scotland) 2nd £126,244 + 6.21
Shetland Islands (Scotland) 18th £178,947 + 26.08%
Eden (North West) 22nd £186,201 – 3.05%
Mid Devon 27th £217,439 + 3.41%
Rugby (West Midlands) 32nd £217,537 + 7.53%
Richmondshire (Yorkshire & The Humber) 33rd £206,388 +5.96%

Does high quality lead to high property price growth?

Whether you’re buying a property to bring up a young family or as a long-term investment, it’s important to know whether your area is on the up or over the hill.

Almost all of the top 50 districts saw price increases in the 12 months to December 2016, and more than half enjoyed increases above the UK average of 7.18%.

The highest price rises were found on the Shetland Islands (18th place), which topped the table – average prices have increased by a stunning 26.8% in the past 12 months. Significant double digit price increases were also seen in Essex, Rutland, Buckinghamshire and Sussex.

Local authority Place on the Quality of Life Survey House price (Dec 2016) 12-month price increase
Shetland Islands (Scotland) 18th £178,947 + 26.08%
Maldon (East of England) 36th £317,887 + 16.25%
Rutland (East Midlands) 28th £299,387 + 16.21%
Aylesbury Vale (South East) 50th £328,749 + 13.08%
Horsham (South East) 19th £384,750 + 12.50%

Only Eden (in Cumbria) saw its average house price fall in the 12 month period, while elsewhere there were further indications of the slowdown in the London market, with Richmond upon Thames (average property price £643,071) and the City of Westminster (£1,025,114), experiencing very low price growth.

Local authority Place on the Quality of Life Survey House price (Dec 2016) 12 month price increase
Eden (North West) 22nd £186,201 – 3.05%
Richmond upon Thames (London) 31st £643,071 + 0.38%
West Dorset (South West) 15th £267,922 + 1.10%
City of Westminster (London) 44th £1,025,114 + 1.15%
South Hams (South West) 12th £295,550 + 2.69%
  • Whether you’re looking for a home in the next up-and-coming area or choosing a property in an established hotspot, Which? Mortgage Advisers can offer impartial, expert advice on finding the best mortgage deal for you.

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