According to estate agents Haart, UK house prices in the South East and East Anglia are rising faster than in London for the first time in 4 years. Across the country, the national property market is showing real signs of growth with buyers rediscovering the charms of the UK’s smaller towns and cities.
As house prices hit new highs, where is the best place to buy in 2015?
According to property experts Stacks Property Search, town and city living is rapidly growing in popularity, with more people seeking homes in urban areas. These areas have a lot to offer, with good schools, excellent amenities and a rich history, as well as cultural variety and numerous green spaces.
Property expert James Greenword said, “what makes these towns and cities so attractive is that they’re small enough to be friendly with low crime figures, yet large enough to offer everything that residents want.”
In fact, mid-size cities offer the best of both the town and the countryside: all amenities accessible by foot, a community feel, and local entertainment close at hand.
The number one location in Stacks’ property survey is the City of Bath, where an average house costs £527,945. Bath boasts a rich Roman heritage and beautiful Georgian architecture, as well as good amenities, excellent schools and a well-respected university. The morning commute to London is just 90 minutes by train, while Bristol can be reached in only 15 minutes.
The city’s proximity to the countryside is another huge pull for residents. Bath lies at the southern tip of the Cotswolds and is only a few miles from both the Mendip Hills and the North Wessex Downs. The seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare can be reached in just over 30 minutes by rail.
To the southwest, Stacks’ next tip is Exeter. Here an average home costs £330,483, with 3-bed properties going for an average of £269,239. Boasting attractive historic architecture and a UK top-10 university, there is much to love about this dynamic county town.
The nearby coastal towns of Dawlish, Torquay and Paignton are ideal for weekend recreation, and those seeking outdoor adventure can take advantage of Dartmoor National Park. The M5 motorway connects the city with the rest of England, while rail connections to Bristol take 75 minutes and trains reach the capital in just over 2 hours.
Next on the list is the coastal town of Bournemouth, where an average family home will set you back £428,551. Recently voted best UK beach attraction on Trip Advisor, Bournemouth has seven miles of beachfront on its doorstep, with many cultural events and festivals held on the sand.
London can be reached in just 2 hours by rail, while ferries to France and the Channel Islands depart daily from nearby Poole. Bournemouth boasts excellent amenities, while being located just miles away from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
To the north, the elegant spa town of Cheltenham is the next of Stacks’ recommendations. On the edge of the Cotswolds and not far from the Wye Valley, the average home costs £347,510 here. The also town boasts desirable Georgian architecture as well as famous schools and a renowned history of horse racing.
Cheltenham residents can reach London by train in 2 hours and also enjoy easy access to the M5 motorway; meaning connections to Bristol are possible in 40 minutes.
The most affordable location in the Stacks top 10 is Truro in Cornwall, with the average home costing £272,673. Cornwall’s capital benefits from easy access to stunning landscapes and several stretches of protected coastline, scoring highly for quality of life and local amenities.
However, Truro is also the most remote location of those on the list, with rail connections to London possible in 5 hours, and to Bristol in 3 hours 30 minutes.
In contrast, the next most desirable location, Milton Keynes, is also the most accessible to London. Only 40 minutes by rail from the capital, Milton Keynes offers modern urban living to residents and boasts a host of cultural and historical activities including, Bletchley Park, the National Museum of Computing and the MK Gallery.
With homes available for an average price of £286,577, Milton Keynes attracts London workers who want more for their money, as well as those who seek easy access to the surrounding Buckinghamshire countryside and historic county towns.
The university town of Oxford has long been an attractive location for those who seek a vibrant cultural scene, excellent schools and amenities and a rich historical legacy. An average home in the city costs £570,010, with London and Birmingham both accessible by rail in just under 60 minutes.
Situated on the banks of the river Thames, Marlow is the closest town to London in Stacks’ Top 10. Another highly desirable location, the average home here currently fetches £969,655. With many large riverside properties on offer, the town is popular with well-heeled commuters who can retch central London by rail in about an hour.
Sometimes known as ‘London-by-Sea’, Brighton is a very poplar location for city workers and locals who enjoy its balmy climate, its close proximity to the South Downs National Park and a relatively short commute to the capital (70 minutes by rail). Here the average home costs £485,848.
While tourism is an important part of the local community, Brighton is also a growing hub for creative, digital and new media businesses.
Last, but certainly not least, in Stacks’ UK Top 10 is Winchester, a cathedral city on the western edge of the South Downs. The average price of a home in this historical location is £626,562. Rail connections to the capital take an hour, while the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth can be reached in 30 and 35 minutes respectively by car.
While the Stacks Property Survey focused on locations in the southern half of England, those with a preference for the Midlands and the North might consider similarly attractive locations such as Lancaster, Buxton, York, Harrogate or Durham.