1 February 2024
7 min read
Buying your first home is a thrilling milestone, but it can also feel overwhelming. It's easy to get caught up in the numbers — mortgage rates, deposit savings, and, of course, house prices. But while affordability is crucial, it's just one piece of the puzzle.
Your home should be a place where you feel happy, fulfilled, and connected to your surroundings. That’s why we’ve carried out research to reveal the best UK cities for first time buyers, based on a range of important factors.
As well as average house prices, we looked at things like crime rates, traffic and life satisfaction scores to find the top cities to get on the property ladder. First time buyers often have limited budgets, so affordability is, of course, a key concern. On top of that, factors like crime rates and life satisfaction give us insight into the overall quality of life in each city.
By evaluating these metrics, first time buyers can make informed decisions about their property investments, considering both financial feasibility and overall quality of life.
According to our research, Swansea in Wales ranks as the best city in the UK for first time buyers thanks to its affordable house prices, low crime rates and good life satisfaction score.
The average house price in Swansea is £193,784, rising to £195,687 when taking into account other costs associated with buying a house like conveyancing (£1,483 on average in Swansea) and surveying (£420). This is among the most affordable in the country.
It’s also worth noting that first time buyers in Swansea likely won’t pay stamp duty, as this doesn’t apply to properties under £225,000 in Wales. Similarly, first time buyers in Scotland won’t pay it on properties under £175,000, and those in England won’t on the first £425,000 of a property.
Edinburgh comes in second place. House prices are higher here at £337,537 on average, totalling £346,293 with additional costs — which includes an average stamp duty price of £6,503.
However, Edinburgh also has the lowest crime index score in the country (30.9), making it the safest city on the list. On top of that, it also has the highest life satisfaction score (7.7 out of 10), so it’s a great place for a slightly pricier investment.
In third place is Plymouth, where the total cost for first time buyers — including conveyancing (£1,613) and surveying (£500) — is £225,060. Plymouth has a slightly higher crime score (41.5) and lower life satisfaction (7.5). However, its traffic index score (which gives insight into the overall traffic conditions in a city) is 99, which is better than many other areas. This makes it a particularly appealing location for drivers.
In light of the continuing cost of living crisis, affordability is a top priority for most first time buyers.
Our research reveals that Blackpool is the most affordable UK city to buy your first home, with an average house price of just £134,092. When taking into account the additional costs of conveyancing (£1,483) and surveying (£420), this amounts to a total average price of £135,995 for first time buyers in Blackpool. That’s over £400,000 cheaper than the most expensive city, London, where the total cost averages £547,560.
Kingston upon Hull is the second-most affordable city. The average house price here is £138,031, giving a total cost of £139,934 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).
On the other end of the property spectrum, our research reveals London is unsurprisingly the most expensive city for first time buyers in the UK. Factoring in the average conveyancing (£2,043) and surveying (£740) costs, the total average spend for first time buyers in the capital is a hefty £547,560.
Bristol is the second-most expensive city, with a total average cost of £353,033. Edinburgh comes in third with £346,293, followed by Reading (£332,283) and Southend-on-Sea (£327,729).
Buying a home is a major financial decision that requires careful planning and consideration. As a first time buyer, you may have many questions and concerns about the process.
To give you some guidance, we’ve put together five essential tips to help you navigate the process of buying a home with confidence.
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.
Mortgage lenders also tend to offer lower interest rates to people with bigger deposits, so the more you can save, the better.
Before you start looking for homes, it's important to figure out how much you can afford to spend. This will help you narrow down your search and avoid falling in love with a home you can't afford.
There are a number of factors to consider when calculating your budget, like your income, expenses and debt. You can use tools like our mortgage calculator to see what property price you could afford or what your monthly mortgage repayment could be.
The purchase price is just one part of the overall cost of buying a home. Don't forget to factor in extra costs like conveyancing and surveying fees, and stamp duty (which may or may not apply, depending on where you live and the property price). You may also have to set aside money for things like minor renovations or new furniture.
These costs can add up significantly, so it's important to budget accordingly.
Saving for a deposit is important, but it can also be hard. Fortunately, there’s a range of government schemes available to help you buy your first home.
For example, the Lifetime ISA (LISA) lets you put in up to £4,000 each year, which the government will add to with a 25% bonus. That means up to an extra £1,000 a year.
There’s also the mortgage guarantee scheme, which means first time buyers only have to save up a 5% deposit and borrow the other 95% from a lender. Because it’s a government-backed scheme, a lot of lenders are now offering this 95% mortgage option.
The First Homes Scheme is another good option, allowing first time buyers to buy a home for 30% to 50% less than its market value.
A mortgage advisor’s job is to help you find the best mortgage to suit your needs. They can help assess your financial situation, figure out the most suitable option for you, and search for deals that match what you’re looking for. They’re particularly helpful for first time buyers, who may be less sure of how the market works.
We know buying your first home can feel like a confusing process, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re ready to apply for a mortgage or just want to explore your options, we’ve got plenty of useful guides and tips to help you.
Our first time buyers guide is a great place to start. We’ll walk you through every step of the buying process, right up to moving day. You can also find out more about mortgages for first time buyers, and check out our mortgage FAQs for even more support.
Methodology and sources
Link to the full data set here.
To find out the best cities for first time buyers, we made a list of the 30 most populated cities in the UK. Each city was then scored and ranked according to a range of metrics, including:
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