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Where is the most affordable city in the UK for low earners to buy a home?

New research into house price affordability by occupation has found that train drivers are making tracks into the property market and are now able to afford a greater proportion of homes in all six of the UK's major cities, than police officers, teachers and social workers...

New research into house price affordability by occupation has found that train drivers are making tracks into the property market and are now able to afford a greater proportion of homes in all six of the UK's major cities, than police officers, teachers and social workers.

The research by reallymoving.com found that in the capital, where police officers earning average salaries of £44,824 can afford to buy just 8% of homes and teachers typically earning £42,359 can afford just 7%, train drivers on average salaries of £66,320 can access 27% of the city's housing stock.

The situation has worsened over the last two years, compared with 2016 when teachers could afford 13% of homes and police officers 14%. Low earners have now been almost entirely priced out of the capital's housing market as wage stagnation puts nearly all homes out of reach, despite house prices falling over recent months. Bar staff can afford only 1% of the capital's homes, sales assistants 2% and taxi drivers 4%.

The analysis uses the latest ONS Survey of Hours and Earnings, alongside the Land Registry's Price Paid Data, to reveal the percentage of homes people in different occupations can afford in six of the UK's major cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast. An online interactive infographic allows users to search for data by city or occupation.

The UK's second city, Birmingham, also follows London as the second most unaffordable city when comparing average house prices with typical earnings. Only 2% of the city's homes are within reach of bar staff and just 4% are affordable to sales assistants working in Birmingham, while cabbies and car mechanics could consider buying just a fifth (20%) of the city's homes.

Glasgow is the most affordable city in the UK for low earners who wish to buy their own home, closely followed by Manchester. Bar staff in Glasgow, earning on average £14,047, are able to afford 5% of all homes, taxi drivers 42% and car mechanics 46%. It also offers plenty of choice to middle earners, with nurses able to afford 52% of homes, teachers 65% and train drivers 82%, while CEOs, earning on average £86,758 per year, have the choice of 93% of the city's housing stock.

Manchester is the second most affordable city for low earners, with 10% of housing stock within reach of bar staff, 13% affordable to sales assistants and 40% to taxi drivers.

CEOs fare the best across the UK, scoring 88% or more in every city other than London, where they can still afford to buy 75% of homes. Doctors, another highly paid profession, also scored more than 85% in every city apart from London, where even they, earning on average £86,785 per annum, can only afford less than half (49%) of homes.

Rob Houghton, CEO of reallymoving.com, said:“Becoming a train driver may not be a profession many people consider, but in fact, it is surprisingly well paid and offers a great chance of getting on the housing ladder, even in London, where train drivers can afford over a quarter of homes. Sadly, police officers and teachers now find themselves almost entirely priced out of the capital, despite the fact that they provide some of the city's most essential services. They do, however, have a very good chance of securing a home in the regional city of their choice.

This research shows that, despite falling prices in London, the affordability gap continues to grow and is likely to do so until wages begin to show sustained increases alongside continued negative house price growth. For those seeking the dream of homeownership and a better quality of life, regional cities such as Glasgow and Manchester offer fantastic prospects and the opportunity to buy a suitable home within budget. I expect to see the current outward migration from the capital to regional cities increase over the short term, as wage stagnation puts home ownership even further out of reach for all but the highest earners.”

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