10 cheap but charming towns to live in the UK

Bideford

Where can I find a list of charming towns which are also some of the cheapest places to live in the UK?

We look at 10 charming but affordable towns in the UK. While house prices may not be rising quite as quickly as they were a few years ago, the average property value in the UK is still more than £226,000 according to the Land Registry. In April 2018, UK house prices were 1.2% higher than they were the previous month and 3.9% higher than at the same time the previous year.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average wage in the UK is only around £27,000. It is clear that most people earning the average salary can’t afford the average price for properties. Banks are typically lending between three and five times a mortgage applicant’s annual salary, while at least double that rate is required.

As a result of this phenomenon, a lot of homebuyers are moving farther and farther afield. In fact, some people are leaving their region of origin entirely in search of affordable towns.

Thankfully, however, the property price boom in the UK hasn’t affected all areas equally. Some charming residential neighbourhoods, villages and towns boast surprisingly low house prices — here are 10 of the more interesting.

1. Bideford

The port of Bideford, North Devon, England

According to Choose.co.uk, Bideford’s averaged house price was just £206,000 in June 2016 —a full £9,000 lower than the national average. Located along the River Torridge’s estuary in Devon, the quaint port town enjoys a relatively high standard of living. Indeed, the Office for National Statistics rates Bideford at 7.93 out of 10 for “life satisfaction”.

This small town has mostly been untouched by modern developments and retail zones. It’s 15 minutes from the nearest mainline railway station, but this only adds to its charm. There’s a local charm here that has mostly remained unspoilt since the turn of the century. Bideford is home to beautiful coastlines, fishing communities, traditional local pubs and a warm community spirit.

It’s true to say that Bideford lacks some of the modern amenities and transport links that young professionals want. But if you’re after the quiet life — away from the rat race — this is a great place to live. And the area is perfect for raising a young family too. All of the schools receive “Good” or “Outstanding” ratings from OFSTED, and there are plenty of large terraced homes in the town, most of which have extensive gardens.

2. Pendle

Pendle Hill, viewed across the town of Clitheroe

Pendle is a borough located in Lancashire which is close to North Yorkshire, the Manchester conurbation, the West Yorkshire conurbation and the Lake District. Vast swathes of the countryside are always just a 10-minute car journey away, yet Pendle residents still enjoy all the trappings of modern life.

Zoopla data shows the average house price in Pendle a little over £92,000. The district of Colne is located in Pendle, and it’s possible to buy a three-bedroom home here for less than £100,000.

3. Melton Mowbray

Melton Mowbray market square

If you’re looking for a high standard of living on a tight budget, it might be worth your while moving to Melton Mowbray. Its stunning architecture and historical landmarks characterise this idyllic market town. Located in Leicestershire, Melton Mowbray scores an 8.05 out of 10 on the ONS’ life satisfaction scale.

This part of the world is subject to very tight planning restrictions to maintain its unique aesthetic. Nevertheless, the average price of a home in Melton Mowbray is just £210,000, which is a full £9,000 less than the national average.

Melton Mowbray is home to a range of quintessentially British foods, including Stilton cheese and pork pies and is also a great place to run a tourist-based business. Other tourist attractions include the Regal theatre and the Stapleford Miniature Railway.

4. Lytham St Annes, near Blackpool (one of the cheapest places to live in the UK).

Lytham St. Annes

If you’re looking for a bustling affordable town at the seaside without all of the attractions and crowds major resorts attract, Lytham St Annes could be the place for you. Located on the Fylde coast of Lancashire just a few miles south of Blackpool, Lytham enjoys stunning coastal stretches and a much more laid-back seaside atmosphere. The town is also home to the Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club, which regularly hosts The Open Championship.

Scoring an impressive 8.03 out of 10 on the ONS’s life satisfaction scale, Lytham St Annes has a reputation for providing quality homes at affordable prices; and is a great place to raise a family, as the air pollution is low. There are lots of open spaces in the area, and there are several schools with an “Outstanding” OFSTED rating.

As of December 2016, the house price averages in this quaint Lancashire town were just £185,000 — around £30,000 less than the national average.

5. County Durham

City of Durham

When it comes to having everything on your doorstep, County Durham takes some beating. Not only do you have the North Yorkshire Moors and the Northumberland National Park just around the corner, but the cities of Sunderland, Durham and Newcastle are also within an hour’s drive. Durham is also fortunate to have some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the British Isles.

With so many options for leisure, sightseeing and business, you might think that house prices in County Durham are high. However, according to Zoopla, the average property value in the county is just under £92,000. But act quickly to take advantage of these prices. Between 2015 and 2016, house prices rose by more than 5% — and they’re still rising fast. Get an overview of the housing market in the North East here.

6. Beeston

Beeston town centre

Beeston is a picturesque and reasonably affluent town in Nottinghamshire, and it’s currently home to the headquarters of Boots the chemist and the main campus of the University of Nottingham.

The area is blessed with several leafy suburbs and a thriving town centre that hasn’t changed all that much in the last 50 years. And thanks to the presence of businesses such as Siemens, Atos and Changan, the local employment rate is significantly higher than the national average. Among the landmarks in Beeston are the Anglo Scotian Mills, Wollaton Park and St. John the Baptist Church.

Beeston is the perfect place for young families. Public transport links into Nottingham, Derby and the rest of the Midlands are excellent, while the region’s motorways are just a few minutes’ drive away.

The town boasts lots of green space, low crime rates, excellent public amenities and several schools with an “Outstanding” OFSTED score. And here’s the best bit: the average price for houses in Beeston is less than £170,000 — around £50,000 less than the national average property value.

7. Belper

The Town Centre in Belper, Derbyshire

Belper is a local government district located in Amber Valley, Derbyshire. Just a few miles from Derby, the area is home to the villages of Milford, Bargate, Blackbrook and Makeney. The urban centres of the Midlands are just a short car journey away, but so are swathes of stunning countryside.

Belper recently scored 8.13 on the ONS’ life satisfaction scale, and nearly 8 for happiness. Once an industrial town, Belper is now a mostly residential area that is home to Georgian and Victorian architecture, an unusually busy high street and part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

The popularity of Belper has a commuter town in this part of England has proliferated in recent years. But despite an influx of new residents, the average home price in the town as of December 2016 was still less than £160,000.

8. Sleaford

Sleaford High St

[Photo: By Bedoyere at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

Sleaford is a picturesque market town in Lincolnshire that dates back to Roman rule. Just 11 miles from Grantham and 16 miles from Boston, the town benefits from an excellent location, equidistant from the economic heartlands of the Midlands, the South East and the North West. Sleaford also benefits from reasonably good transport links, including the A17 and the A15.

This idyllic town has a population of around 20,000, yet it possesses a village-like feel that is welcoming. Thanks to a selection of good schools, lots of open space and some magnificent architecture, Sleaford and the surrounding area boasts a stunning 8.31 life satisfaction score with the Office for National Statistics.

Sleaford isn’t close to a major city, however. While this works against the town concerning employment, it’s as a significant advantage among retirees. But if you do want to raise a family in Sleaford, you won’t have to worry too much about keeping your loved ones safe. The wider district of North Kesteven had the lowest crime rate in the UK during 2014.

Sleaford is home to quaint cottages, modest terraced dwellings and lavish detached properties. Planning restrictions are tight, so the majority of the available homes in the area are period properties. But despite all of this, it’s still one of the cheaper place to live in the UK, the average price for homes in Sleaford as of December 2016 was less than £185,000.

9. Newark-on-Trent

Newark-on-Trent Lock

If you want to live your life surrounded by historic buildings, castles and beautiful swathes of countryside, Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire is ideal. Located on the River Trent, this peaceful settlement on the banks of the River Trent is home to the ruinous Newark Castle, a bustling Marketplace, a lavish, Georgian Town Hall and the famous Newark County Showground.

Scoring an impressive 8.11 out of 10 on the ONS’s life satisfaction scale, this sleepy town is characterised by green space, Georgian architecture and centuries of history. The way of life here is laid-back and comfortable, but the bright lights of Nottingham are just a short car journey away. Newark is located right on the A1, so London can be reached by car within three hours.

Thanks to an excellent network of schools, a booming tourism trade and some stunning family homes, this part of the world is in high demand. Nevertheless, the average property value is a mere £170,000 — £50,000 less than the UK average.

10. Pershore

Pershore houses by the Abbey Green

Setting foot in the town of Pershore in Worcestershire is like taking a giant leap back in time. This idyllic rural settlement is well known for its beautiful Georgian architecture and its archaeological significance. Indeed, the Council for British Architecture recently listed Pershore as one of 51 British “Gem Towns”.

Pershore delivers a village-like ambience that is well suited to young families and retirees alike. However, it still boasts a wealth of shopping, dining and leisure outlets. Perhaps this is why the local population has grown significantly during the last decade. Nevertheless, the average property price in this charming English town is still a modest £250,000.

There are many more beautiful areas of the British Isles where idyllic living is eminently affordable. If you’re flexible about where you live and prepared to move away from the UK’s biggest cities, you can make your house buying budget stretch to the way of life you’ve always dreamed by choosing one of the cheapest places to live in the UK.