Cheapest Places in the UK to Buy 3 Bedroom Houses (2016)
The True North-South Divide
For us Brits, 2016 has been a political rollercoaster. In just a few short months, we've held a once in a generation referendum on our membership of the EU, lost one Prime Minister, and gained another, and had a complete change of leadership in all the top political jobs. Quite aside from these potentially life-changing news stories, there has also been a fairly unrecorded, yet potentially devastating home-grown crisis in the housing market bubbling away on the back-boiler. Simply put, the dramatic leap in house prices in recent months portends the kind of boom and bust that Gordon Brown once so famously promised to put an end to. With the stratospheric rise of the buy-to-let market coupled with a dramatic fall in the number of houses coming on to the market, it’s hardly surprising. Now with Brexit added in to the mix, home owners in the UK's property hotspots are facing an uncertain future. In the run up to the referendum, the Chancellor, George Osborne, advised voters that a Leave result would put a serious dent in UK house prices. However, prices were already stalling in some of the areas below, even before Brexit was in the bag. It will be interesting to see what Philip Hammond, our new Chancellor of the Exchequor will do to address these issues.
Stamp Duty Land Tax has had a big part to play in the general stickiness of the housing market in the South-East. Unless you have a very good reason to move, or an overwhelming desire to give the Treasury a huge chunk of your savings, there really isn't any incentive to re-locate on a regular basis. Once upon a time, people in the UK would move on a whim. These days you need to be either desperate, reasonably wealthy or heading for one of the UK's cheaper regions.
Yes folks, it's true. Here in the London commuter belt, we pay extortionate prices for quite average homes, and then pay taxes on top for the privilege. Elsewhere in the UK, property prices are nowhere near as high, and as a result, there are huge numbers of home owners living in Britain who need never pay a penny to the government in Stamp Duty. For properties priced between £125,001 and £250,000, the duty is levied at just 1%. Beneath that price the duty doesn't exist.
For average working families living in popular parts of central Sussex, the Surrey heartlands, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and the London suburbs, property ownership comes at a very high price indeed, It could also be argued that ordinary working people buying in some of the areas listed below could well afford to pay stamp duty on their very reasonably priced homes to relieve the pressure on more expensive areas. However, in the meanwhile at least, they come unburdened by this unfairest of taxes.
For those whose jobs are more mobile, there is a whole wealth of property readily available in cheaper areas of the UK. Here are fourteen places you might wish to consider in your search for an affordable three-bedroom house. All prices given were found on the Rightmove web-site, and are current for 2016.
Only interested in property in specific counties?
If you are reading this article secretly hoping to find property in a specific location in the UK, you may prefer to look at county by county house price reviews. Click on the author link in the top right hand corner of this article, then scroll to the end and click again when you see 'view my profile on Hubpages'. to see all available counties. At present these include Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Devon, Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, South Yorkshire,Sussex and Surrey. There are more in the process of being written, so do check back again if you can't see what you're looking for. Alternatively, go to Twitter and search #cheapestplaces.
1. Stanley, County Durham
Stanley is a former coal-mining town in County Durham. One of the worst pit disasters in British history took place in Stanley in February 1909 when over 160 people were killed in a local coal mine.
There has been some serious investment in the town in recent times, including improved leisure facilities, a new swimming pool, and a solar-powered bus interchange. More improvements, such as a new health centre and a Sure Start children's centre, are planned, and Stanley already has a well-regarded performance venue, the Lamplight Arts Centre, which hosts events as diverse as boxing matches, comedy shows, and music gigs.The town has a good sprinkling of supermarkets, and there is a twice weekly market, held on Thursdays and Saturdays.
With the closure of the coal pits, and the loss of other major employers in the area, Stanley has been on hard times economically for much of the last twenty years, and local house prices reflect this. A basic three-bedroom house can be bought here for around £40,000 (June 2016). Worryingly, the base line for house prices in this region seems to have slid downwards in the first six months of this year.
2. Rhondda, Glamorgan
In the Welsh Rhondda Valley, an area of outstanding charm and natural beauty, a three-bedroom terraced home can be purchased for under £40,000. My search revealed several houses in Tonypandy and Maerdy, Ferndale, for around £45,000, and there were a number of others, all advertised as being in good order, in the £45,000 to £55,000 price range. Some of the locations listed in this price bracket are Treherbert, Tonypandy, Maesteg and Port Talbot. This region has shown a steady rise in prices over the five years since I first compiled this list, although it still represents exceptional value compared to other parts of the UK. However, the price escalation has stalled, and in some areas actually reversed in the first six months of 2016.
The Rhondda Valley was once famed for its many coal mines, but the closure of many local pits in the 1990s left a legacy of high unemployment. The plethora of low-priced homes for sale in this region is a reflection of the pain that these communities continue to feel. Served by the Taff Vale railway line, Tonypandy is the principle town of the Rhondda Valley, and has the greatest employment opportunities.
Lively Liverpool, with all its musical and artistic heritage, birthplace of The Beatles and Cilla Black, has a generous supply of reasonably-priced three-bedroom terraced houses. The lowest-priced example I came across in this area is being offered at £39,950, and there are a number of attractive, basic properties available in the Liverpool, Netherton and Bootle areas in the £45,000 to £55,000 price bracket. Shared ownership schemes seem to be popular in this region, and many reasonably priced brand-new homes come to the market offering 25% to 75% shared ownership.
In recent years, Liverpool has been transformed by an ambitious and far-reaching regeneration programme, and is now considered to be one of Britain's leading centres for culture and business. Although the generous supply of cheap housing seems to tell a different story, it may just be that the house prices are only temporarily lagging behind the bigger picture. Certainly, here as in other areas I've investigated, there has been a significant rise in house prices at the lower end of the scale, as buy-to-letters seek out fresh territories, and first-time-buyer schemes help more people onto the property ladder.
Stoke-on-Trent is well known for the numerous potteries that grew up in and around the town from the 17th century onwards. Wedgwood, Minton and Royal Doulton are among the more famous china manufacturers from this area, and the potteries, together with abundant local supplies of coal and iron, ensured the prosperity of the region for several centuries. More recently, however, with pit closures and the loss of numerous factories and steelworks, there has been a sharp rise in unemployment. Nowadays, local tourism opportunities are beginning to be exploited, and both the china works and the canal system draw their fair share of visitors to the region each year.
A three-bedroom terraced house in the Potteries area, in towns such as Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-Under-Lyme, can be bought for as little as £55,000 to £65,000. A semi-detached home, in good order, sells for around £70,000. Prices in this region climbed steeply in 2015, but the first six months of 2016 have been calmer, and prices seem to have plateaued.
5. Leeds, West Yorkshire
According to the 2011 census, Leeds is the third largest city, by population, in the UK. One of the biggest success stories of the Industrial Revolution, Leeds was once the thriving hub of a vast network of wool and linen mills. In more recent years, Leeds continues to enjoy a reputation as the cultural, financial and commercial heart of West Yorkshire.
My search revealed properties in the Bramley and Harehills areas readily available in the £70,000 to £80,000 price bracket. The low-end prices are a little higher in nearby Wakefield and Pontefract, but all show listings for comfortable, habitable properties around £85,000.
My search on Rightmove this June (2016) turned up a three-bedroom property in Benwell priced at £60,000, and others in Newbiggin Hall and Byker under £65,000. Three-bedroom houses priced at between £65,000 and £75,000 are plentiful in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area of Tyne & Wear, particularly in Blyth and Jarrow. Smart, modern semi-detached houses can be bought in this region from around £90,000. At the other end of the scale, in more favoured areas such as Fenham and Westerhope, spacious, attractive, detached and semi-detached homes are freely available at well under £210,000.
The port developed in the 16th century and, along with the shipyards lower down the river Tyne, became one of the world's largest ship-building and ship-repairing centres. These industries have since gone into decline, and today, Newcastle-upon-Tyne is largely a business and cultural centre, with a lively nightlife, and excellent shopping facilities.
7. Belfast and Antrim
Famous for being home to the shipyard that built the Titanic, beautiful Belfast has seen more than its fair share of problems over the years. The continuing sectarian conflict that has divided communities in this city is in sharp contrast, however, to the warm welcome that visitors receive here. Belfast has a vibrant and thriving city centre with great leisure facilities, historic sites to visit, fabulous shopping streets and excellent transport links. A comfortable three-bedroomed home in this lively, heritage city could be yours from as little as £60,000. Please also bear in mind, when searching for property in Northern Ireland, that RightMove may not have the same coverage in this area as it does in mainland UK, and you will do better by searching on some of the sites specific to Northern Ireland. A good place to start is the Daft.ie website.
Historic Kingston-Upon-Hull, better known as just plain “Hull,” has poetic and theatrical links as well as a fascinating maritime past. Recent investment in urban regeneration has brought about much improvement in poorer areas in and around the city, but the property prices remain some of the UK's lowest. I found a number of three-bedroomed terraced houses advertised for sale priced at around £55,000, all within a ten-mile radius of Hull City Centre. Homes in the £65,000 to £75,000 price range are readily available. If you have a little more to spend, £249,500 will buy you a spacious detached house with good-sized gardens, in one of the better areas. and you could still avoid the Chancellor's 3% stamp duty bracket. As for similar locations on this list, the prices in this area have remained stable in recent months.
9. Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Industrious Sheffield, famous for its cutlers, and surrounded by some of Britain's most ruggedly beautiful countryside, is a city that has seen tough times in recent years. Like many of the areas listed in this article, Sheffield has seen employment prospects wax and wane, but it still remains a vibrant university city, with many galleries and museums to browse, and great sporting and leisure facilities. Three-bedroomed terraced houses can be bought for as little as £60,000, and there are a number available in the £65,000 to £75,000 price bracket both in Sheffield and in the surrounding towns and villages, especially in neighbouring Derbyshire. For other South Yorkshire towns, please follow this link.
Birmingham, in the West Midlands county of England, is the UK's second most populous city after London. Once at the forefront of the industrial revolution, Birmingham remains a major international commercial centre. It is home to no less than three universities, and is also the site of Britain's National Exhibition Centre. Despite its sprawling urban environment, Birmingham enjoys over 8,000 acres of parkland within its boundaries and has a fascinating and picturesque network of canals and waterways running through the city.
Three-bedroom houses in the Birmingham districts of Smethwick and Oldbury begin at between £90,000 and £100,000 (June 2016).
11. Swansea, South Wales
Swansea and Port Talbot can trace their roots back to the Stone Age. The Romans and the Vikings put their mark on these ancient settlements, and the people of these towns have been seafarers, ship-builders, merchants, and coal-miners. Situated on the edge of the beautiful Gower Peninsula, this part of Wales has much to recommend it, not least its property prices. Three-bedroom terraced homes can be bought for as little as £70,000.
House prices in Scotland vary greatly from area to area, and prices in some of the big cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow are just as high, if not higher, than their southern equivalents. Dumfries, however, has a range of budget-priced homes available, and in June 2016 RightMove was listing several three-bedroom houses with guide prices (offering prices) from £70,000 to £75,000 for sale in this area.
Almost uniquely amongst the towns within reasonable commuter distance of London, Peterborough actually has 3 bedroom houses for sale from around £105,000.(October 2016) Yes, it's true, the cathedral city of Peterborough in lovely Cambridgeshire, is less than one hour away from London's King's Cross station by rail, and yet has somehow escaped the worst effects of the London ripple effect.
Peterborough is a modern city which has grown up around an historic centre. The city has all the facilities you would expect in a large urban area, as well as picturesque countryside close at hand.
Not quite the cheapest place to buy a house in Kent, but not too far off it! Incredibly for the South East, Chatham has quite a number of three-bedroom houses available to buy from around £170,000 (June 2016). Historic Chatham, famous for its dockyards, is on an easy train route into central London, making it an ideal location for commuters. If you are stuck in London, and are desperate to improve your accommodation in a more affordable location, then Chatham might be the place you are looking for. Back in 2014, three-bedroom houses in Chatham started at around £110,000. Prices are climbing steeply and fast in Chatham and the surrounding area.
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