As my mother – a true child of ration books – used to say when shopping for sausages: value, Tom, not price. Cheap is not the same thing as value for money. Property can be cheap, but if wages are so bad you can’t afford it… Affordability is a more useful gauge, relying as it does on the ratio between property prices and local wages.
Lloyds Bank’s annual affordability audit this year placed Stirling as the UK’s most affordable place for the fourth year running, followed by Derry and Bradford. Average property prices in the (rather lovely) Scottish town are four times local average salaries. Zoopla also does affordability surveys. For single buyers, it puts Newcastle-under-Lyme, North Tyneside and Bradford as the UK’s most affordable; and, for first-time buyers, Hull, Middlesbrough and Liverpool. True value for money is more subjective, so harder to measure, dependent on what exactly it is you value, and how much (and at what price) you value it. Would you pay more for good schools? Good employment prospects?
How important is good transport? Quality of property? Or space. Last autumn, Zoopla plotted affordability against average property sizes. Blaenau Gwent came top (followed by Burnley and East Ayrshire): a square foot of home will cost £79, compared with – ouch – £1,328 in Kensington & Chelsea.