Belfast Telegraph

Report highlights high cost of the dream of country living

Britons who dream of escaping to live in the country can expect to pay nearly £43,000 typically to do so, a report has found.

Rural homes across Britain typically cost 20% or £42,894 more than properties in urban areas, according to the Halifax Rural Housing Review.

Buyers can expect to pay around £254,000 to live in a rural retreat, whereas a home in a town or a city will cost them just under £211,000.

The biggest "rural premiums" tend to be in the West Midlands, where a rural home costs 42% more than one in an urban area.

The smallest difference is in the east of England, where buyers pay a 10% premium for a home in the countryside.

The least affordable rural local authority district was identified as Tandridge in Surrey - with an average house price of £465,354 - 11.4 times local annual average earnings.

Copeland in west Cumbria was found to be the most affordable rural local authority district in the country, with an average house price of £142,972 - 3.5 times local average gross annual earnings.

In Scotland, home buyers can expect to pay £17,231 or 11% more to live in a rural area, while in Wales buyers face paying £23,526 or 15% more.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "The countryside continues to attract home owners inspired by open spaces, a cleaner environment and the prospect of a potentially greater quality of life. However, turning such dreams into reality typically comes at a cost with the average rural property 20% higher than in urban areas.

"Housing affordability is a significant issue across a number of rural areas, making it difficult for first-time buyers in particular to buy a countryside home, particularly in southern England. These affordability obstacles are reflected in the typically lower proportion of first-time buyers in the country compared with their urban counterparts."

But the research also found the premium buyers pay to live in the countryside has become smaller in recent years. In 2011, buyers could expect to pay 30% or £44,588 more to live in the countryside compared with an urban area.

The narrowing gap is due to f aster house price growth in urban areas over the last five years compared with rural areas.

Here are the premiums that buyers can expect to pay to live in a rural home across Britain, according to Halifax:

:: North East, £17,304, 11%

:: North West, £58,916, 35%

:: Yorkshire and the Humber, £51,761, 32%

:: East Midlands, £53,086, 30%

:: West Midlands, £78,314, 42%

:: East of England, £29,291, 10%

:: South East, £84,754, 26%

:: South West, £44,331, 19%

:: Scotland, £17,231, 11%

:: Wales, £23,526, 15%