The North-South Housing Price Divide

The North-South divide in property prices is a famed dispute which of course is fuelled by stereotypes and presumption, but much of it is based on fact. Flat insurance firm Deacon recently reported on this divide and also compared it to quality of living.

Things to consider with the North-South divide is whether this is about the divide between London and the rest of the country or whether there is a true divide between the North and South of England. Its also worth taking into consideration that there are pockets of wealth dotted throughout the country, so a regional average doesn’t tell the full picture.

In the North, Cheshire is a location with high property values compared to surrounding counties, as is Dorset and the Cotswolds compared to their neighbours. Compare those to prices in the capital though and there is still a gaping chasm in house prices.

north south divide. Image by Deacon.
The north south divide in homes. Image by Deacon.

Average House Price Recovery

So first take a quick look at average house prices based on recovery. Of course 2007 and 2008 saw a massive housing market crash which saw many homeowners suffer with negative equity. Recovery has been slow in some areas, with many still not having recovered from the 2009 price drop.

London leads the way on average house price and recovery with an average house costing £348,000 in 2009, but now costing £849,000 in 2019, a massive 143% increase. No other region comes anywhere near London in recovery and house price average. The second recovery area is St Albans at 85% now boasting an average house price of £517,000. The top recovery region in Wales is Monmouthshire at 53%, Shetland Islands in Scotland at 60% and Mid Ulster in Ireland at just 6%.

There are many regions still to recover from the crash with current house prices sitting at 0 to 10% below 2009 prices at present. The large majority of these are in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the Northeast of England.

Quality of Life

But where is the real divide in housing in the UK? Is it, in fact, with quality of living? Orkney in Scotland has been crowned the best place to live in the UK according to the Halifax index on quality of living. This is a region which is very affordable with house prices at just 5.2 times the average income compared to 7.3 nationally.

Other quality of living high fliers are also Northern areas, such as Richmond shire in north Yorkshire, Rutland in the East Midlands, Hambleton in North Yorkshire and Eden in Cumbria. These towns rate highly because of factors linked to the labour market, housing market, environment, education, crime rates, health, personal wellbeing, and leisure.

London has just two areas in the quality of living top 50 index. They are Westminster and Richmond-on-Thames. The large majority of the top 50 are Northern towns.

So for sure, there’s a North-South divide on house price but also on quality of living. Chose a life in the North of the UK and buyers will likely have a more affordable and enjoyable lifestyle.