Homes in the country are £44,454 (20%) more expensive on average than those in urban areas (excluding London), according to Halifax’s annual rural housing review.
Property in rural areas costs 7.6 times average annual earnings compared with a ratio of 6.5 in urban areas.
First-time buyers in particular are being hit by this price premium in the countryside. In rural areas first-time buyers account for just 41% of all mortgage-financed purchases, compared to 53% in urban areas.
But while a ‘rural premium’ exists across the country, the research found substantial differences in prices across Britain. The greatest premium was in the West Midlands, where the average house price in rural areas (£280,776) was £89,272 (47%) higher than in the region’s urban areas (£191,504).
The smallest difference was in the East of England, where the average premium on countryside homes drops to £27,765 (or 9%).
The most and least affordable country homes
When it comes to the local authorities with the least affordable properties, based on the highest price to earnings ratio, all 10 were in southern England.
North Dorset was the least affordable rural district with an average house price of £361,603 – 11.4 times local annual average earnings of £31,723. The second least affordable area was Chichester, with an average house price of £411,547 (10.8 times local earnings), followed by West Oxfordshire with an average house price of £355,215 (9.9 times local earnings).
Those wishing to escape to the country on a more manageable budget should look to the most affordable rural districts, which are in the north of England and Scotland.
Copeland and East Ayrshire were the most affordable, with the average house price 4.1 times local average annual earnings. Here, average house prices were £157,775 and £128,864 respectively, compared to average local earnings of £38,699 and £31,322.
Richard Washington, mortgages director at Halifax, says: “Housing affordability, particularly in the south of England, is putting a country home out of reach for many people, especially those looking to buy their first property.”