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Best cities for first-time buyers: Is yours in the top 10?


When it comes to buying their first home, most people tend to stick to where their family and job are located. 

But if they had the whole UK to choose from, which locations would come out on top? 

The Co-operative Bank has ranked 30 UK cities using metrics such as average house price, crime rates, traffic levels and life satisfaction, in order to work out the top destination for first-time buyers. 

Swansea tops the list as the most attractive city in the UK for first-time buyers to settle down

Swansea tops the list as the most attractive city in the UK for first-time buyers to settle down

According to its research, Swansea is the best city in the UK to get on the property ladder. 

Wales’ second city has an average total cost of buying a house of £195,687, marking it as one of the most affordable cities in the UK.

The costs used in the research include the price of the house as well as conveyancing, surveying and stamp duty – although first-time buyers will not pay the latter if their home costs less than £425,000. 

Why is Swansea a top location? 

Matthew Barry, director of Swansea-based estate agents Astleys, told This is Money: ‘Swansea stands out as a fantastic choice for first-time buyers due to its diverse housing options and reasonable pricing. 

‘The city offers a variety of housing types ranging from apartments to detached houses, catering to different preferences and budgets.

‘One of Swansea’s key attractions for first-time buyers is its affordability compared to larger cities, making property ownership more accessible.’

Meanwhile, Ben Davies, managing director of Belvoir Swansea estate agents said: ‘Swansea offers first-time buyers a lifestyle choice that many of the big cities can’t compete with. We’re lucky enough to have an incredible coastline here in Swansea that stretches from the city all the way around the Gower peninsula, as well as plenty of green spaces and world renowned beaches.’

‘The beautiful area we live in, coupled with affordable house prices, makes Swansea a very attractive option for people looking to get on the housing ladder for the first time.’

Beyond just affordability, Swansea delivered a low crime safety index score, and a life satisfaction rating of 7.5 out of 10.

The city also had a traffic index score of 93.6, lower than eight of the cities in the top ten, only losing out to Sheffield at 90.3 and Stoke-on-Trent at 83.5.

Buyers typically need to save at least 10% of the cost of the property they are looking to buy

Buyers typically need to save at least 10% of the cost of the property they are looking to buy

What other locations made the list? 

Despite having an average house buying cost of £346,293 – the third highest after Bristol and London, Edinburgh ranks as the second-best location for first-time buyers to settle down.

The Scottish capital, however, has the lowest crime safety index score of just 30.9, and the highest life satisfaction score at 7.7 out of 10.

The cheapest city in the top 10 was Blackpool, which  placed as the seventh best option for first-time buyers, with an average buying cost of £135,995 – well under half what it costs to buy a house in Edinburgh.

While house prices are considerably lower in Blackpool, it has a crime safety index score of 59.1, the highest out of the top ten destinations. Even so, it still delivered a satisfaction rate of 7.5 out of 10.

Alongside Blackpool, Kingston upon Hull, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland all made it into the top ten cities, with average buying prices of £140,814, £143,642 and £147,319 respectively.

This compares to a massive £547,360 average buying price for homes in London, the most expensive city.

Of the 30 cities analysed, London comes out as the second-worst option for first-time buyers to settle down, with only Southend-on-Sea proving to be a worse option for buying your first house.

The third best city for those purchasing their first home was Plymouth, The Co-operative bank said, with an average buying price of £225,060, a crime safety index score of 41.5 and a satisfaction rate of 7.5 out of 10.

Leeds and Newport were also among the most favourable locations.

Of course, despite the benefits of low crime, minimal traffic and high life satisfaction, for most first-time buyers the decision on where to put down roots often comes down to a question of cost.

A spokesperson for the Co-operative Bank said: ‘Typically, you’ll need to save a minimum of 10 per cent of the cost of the property you want to buy.

‘There are Government schemes available to help you do this, like the Lifetime Isa which lets you earn up to £1,000 extra a year through a 25 per cent Government bonus.

‘You’ll also need to figure out how much you can afford to spend and create a budget.

‘Finally, first time buyers especially could benefit from using a broker. They can help you find the best mortgage to suit your needs, and explain how the market works.’ 

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