How affordable are house prices in England? How property prices compare to earnings across the country

Are you hoping to get on the housing ladder this year? We take a lo how property prices compare to wages across England

How affordable is it to buy a property in your local area?How affordable is it to buy a property in your local area?
How affordable is it to buy a property in your local area?

For first time buyers in England, property remains eye wateringly expensive, with prices rising year on year since the late-90s.

Since 1997 the average cost of a property has far outpaced average employee earnings in England, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

The most recent available figures for 2020 show buying a property in England will now set you back an average of £249,000, 7.8 times that of the average full time salary in England.

The findings come after ‘Location, Location, Location’ TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp said she felt “enraged” when people claimed they could not afford to buy a property.

The property guru told The Times that expenses like Netflix, holidays and gym visits were hampering young people’s ability to save for a property. Ms Allsopp allegedly bought her first property aged 21 after receiving financial help from family.

But just how easy is it to buy a property in England while on an average salary?

NationalWorld has crunched the numbers to reveal how affordable it is to get on the property ladder in your local area.

How do property prices compare to average earnings in England?

Property prices have boomed in the last 24 years but salaries have remained more stagnant, creating major financial challenges for would-be buyers.

Between 1997 and 2020 the median cost of a property in England has surged 315% from £59,995 to £249,000.

Average employee earnings – excluding self-employed people – have risen at a much lower rate of 87%, rising from £16,958 in 1997 to £31,777 in 2020.

In 1997 the average property was 3.54 times that of the average salary. By 2020 that gap had more than doubled with the average property now costing 7.84 times that of the average salary.

The ONS measures both house prices and salaries using the median, a measure of the average that takes the middle point when the numbers are lined up from smallest to largest. This prevents extremely high or low figures – for instance salaries earned by millionaires –  skewing the picture beyond what would be recognisable to most people.


Despite Londoners receiving the highest salaries in the country, property is still the least affordable in the capital.

Average employee earnings for Londoners sat at £41,017 in 2020. Buyers meanwhile need to fork out nearly half a million pounds for a property in the capital, with the average costing £483,000.

That means the average property price is 11.78 times that of the average Londoner’s salary.

This is followed by the South East, where average property prices are 9.92 times greater than the average earnings, and the East of England, where they are 9.41 times higher.

Earnings data is based on the people who work in the area, not those who live there, so will capture commuters.


Which local authorities are the most and least expensive to buy in?

But if you share Kirstie Allsopp’s view of moving somewhere ‘cheaper’ to get onto the property ladder, the North West may be your best bet to invest.


Burnley, for example, has the cheapest average property prices in the country. Properties in the Lancashire town cost on average £92,000

This is followed by Hyndburn, where the average property costs £110,000, and Pendle, where the average property costs £113,000.

On the other side of the spectrum, Kensington and Chelsea has the highest average property prices in the country with buyers needing to fork out £1.2 million for a property. The London borough remains the only local authority in England where the average property price is over £1 million.

But low property prices are of course not the be all and end all.

When salaries are taken into account, Copeland in the North West is the most affordable place to buy. Property prices in the local authority are 2.62 times that of local salaries – the average workplace earnings are £49,541 (largely due to the presence of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site) and property prices remain comparatively low at £130,000.


This is followed by Barrow-in-Furness, where the average property costs 3.47 times that of the average salary, and Hyndburn, where it costs 3.66 times.

Kensington and Chelsea remains the least affordable authority to buy in in the country, with the average property costing 36.44 times that of the average salary, followed by Westminster, where it is 21.30.

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