House price growth has been evident throughout the country, although salary increases aren’t necessarily moving at the same pace. The combination means that many areas in the UK are rapidly becoming unaffordable, particularly around London and the South East region.
Britain’s most affordable cities are all located in the northern region, bar a couple of Welsh towns. The most affordable place in the UK is Copeland in the northwest of England. However, the country’s most expensive towns and boroughs are all located in the south of England.
London dominates the list with six out of the top ten most expensive places to live in the UK. The capital city experiences high demand in the housing market, but a shortage of available properties has helped to push prices up high above the national average of £286,397.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the pricier areas in the UK and what makes them attractive to prospective buyers.
The top ten most expensive places to live in the UK
Continue reading to find out which areas have been named as the most expensive places to live in the UK, based on the house-price-to-earnings ratio.
Kensington and Chelsea
With an average house price of £1,247,500, it’s little wonder that Kensington and Chelsea have been named the most expensive place to live in the UK. However, while the house prices come with a large price tag, the average annual salary in the area is £34,157, which is slightly lower than other areas that feature on the list. This combination gives Kensington and Chelsea an affordability ratio of 36.52. In comparison, the other areas on the list all have a ratio below 20.
The London borough is home to the highest average rental cost in London, at a staggering £2,712 per month. This is £1,138 higher than the average rent in the rest of the city.
One of the reasons that this area is so expensive to buy or rent a property is because there is high demand and a shortage of properties. The borough is located between two gardens (Holland and Kensington Gardens), has good transport links and is full of mansions that are surrounded by greenery and exclusive eateries and boutiques. These factors make the region desirable for many people, but the shortage of available properties pushes the prices up.
Richmond upon Thames
Yet another London borough, Richmond upon Thames is located in the South West of the city. The River Thames runs through 10 miles of the borough, which is also home to 100 parks, as well as 140 hectares in the designated Metropolitan Green Belt. You can earn an average salary of £35,684 in the area, which is slightly more than the average earnings in Kensington and Chelsea.
The average house in the borough is £700,000, which is the fourth most expensive average out of the ten featured places. Richmond upon Thames has an affordability ratio of 19.62, which narrowly places it in front of the following two locations.
The borough has a population of around 199,000, while around 33 million people pass through the local train station each year. Tourists come to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, along with Hampton Court Palace and Kew Palace. The borough has repeatedly been voted as one of London’s happiest places to live in RightMove’s annual survey. It has the lowest crime rate of all the London boroughs and has been found 53% safer than other locations in the capital city.
Hammersmith and Fulham
The London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has the third-highest average house price of the featured top ten locations. You can expect to pay an average of £753,750 on a property in the West London district. The average salary in Hammersmith and Fulham is also the third highest on the list at £39,005 per year. This provides the borough with an affordability ratio of 19.32.
Hammersmith and Fulham are known for the Hammersmith Apollo, which is one of the best-known venues in the capital. Two major football clubs — Chelsea F.C and Fulham F.C — are also located in the borough. There are also a number of offices for global brands such as Walt Disney, L’Oreal and the BBC Television Centre in the local area.
Fulham tends to be at the pricier end of the scale, while more affordable housing can be found in Hammersmith. The latter has a station that provides transport links to Central London and beyond.
This southwest borough of London is famous for Wimbledon Common, Battersea Park and Clapham Junction railway station, which has been named Britain’s busiest station in previous years. The crime rate in Wandsworth is one of the lowest of all London boroughs and is approximately 15% safer than other boroughs.
Wandsworth residents earn an average salary of £33,503, while properties sell for an average of £640,000. This gives the borough an affordability ratio of 19.10 and places it as the fourth most expensive place to live in the UK. Properties in the area decreased by £35,000 from the previous year, although the average property price in 2021 was £15,000 more expensive than they were in 2019.
The borough is named after the River Wandle, as it is located at the point where the River Wandle and River Thames meet. Wandsworth’s architecture is predominately from the 19th and 20th centuries, although there are many modern developments too.
For over 1,000 years, Westminster has been home to the Palace of Westminster, where the UK parliament has met since the 13th century. The borough also features a number of other landmarks that are famous throughout the world, including Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and the West End.
Houses in Westminster sell for an average of £855,000, which is the second most expensive average of the featured top ten locations. Residents in the borough earn an average annual salary of £45,295, which gives Westminster an affordability ratio of 18.88.
Westminster has the highest crime rate of any London borough and is listed as 54% more dangerous than other areas in the capital. This could largely be attributed to Westminster’s booming nightlife scene, which holds the title of having the largest nightlife economy in Europe. The area is also popular among tourists due to the many landmarks, which attract petty criminals.
In 1965, the boroughs of Hampstead, Holborn, and St Pancras combined to form the borough of Camden Town (often shortened to Camden). It is now world-famous for its market, which features over 1,000 shops, stalls and cafes. The borough also features London Zoo, The British Museum and The British Library. Camden Market has previously been ranked as one of London’s largest attractions, with around 100,000 people visiting the stalls and shops every weekend.
Residents in the area earn an average salary of £41,114 annually, while the average house price is £765,000. The average house price in Camden was £775,000 in 2019, which rose to £800,000 in the following year.
Camden has a population of over 270,000 people and is often deemed to be a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. Many famous people have lived in the Camden area, including literary greats such as Mary Shelley, George Orwell and Charles Dickens.
Waverley is the most expensive location outside of London to feature on the list. The Surrey borough has a population of over 128,000 people. In 2016, the Legatum Prosperity Index listed Waverley as the most prosperous council area in the country. The borough also has the greenest space of anywhere in Surrey. Approximately half of the space consists of woodland.
Residents pay an average of £520,000 for their houses, while the average annual salary is £28,391. This means that Waverley has the lowest average house price of the top ten list, but is deemed to be the seventh most expensive place to live in the UK due to the below-average salary. The combination gives the borough an affordability ratio of 18.32.
The borough features a number of different towns and villages, including the picturesque town of Godalming and the rural villages of Haselmere, Ewhurst and Wonersh.
Epsom and Ewell
The second Surrey borough to feature in the list, Epsom and Ewell have an average house price of £523,000, while residents have an average salary of £29,084 per year. These figures mean that Epsom and Ewell are only slightly more affordable than nearby Waverley. However, the average price of a house has risen from £481,250 in the previous year.
Epsom is known for having the oldest and most famous horse race in the world – the Epsom Derby. The event has been held in the town since 1780 and is regularly attended by royalty and celebrities. Over 100,000 spectators attend the races every year, which makes it one of the largest sporting events in the UK.
The Suburban area is around 12 miles away from London and has a population size of nearly 80,000 people.
Elmbridge, another Surrey location, is the ninth most expensive place to live in the UK. The borough borders Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames. Aside from the River Thames, River Wey and River Mole also run through Elmbridge. The largest two towns in the borough are Walton-upon-Thames and Esher.
The average house price in the area is £620,000, which is a rise from £596,250 in the previous year. Residents in the area earn £34,867 a year on average, which gives the borough an affordability ratio of 17.78.
Some of the main attractions in the area include Brookland Museum, which is the home of British Aviation and Motorsport, as well as Sandown Park and Kempton Park racecourses.
This charming commuter town is to the north of London and is within the Greater London Built-up Area. The cathedral city takes its name from Britain’s first saint and is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain.
Although it is within a 20-mile drive from the capital, St Albans has an average house price of £585,000, which is significantly lower than other boroughs in the area. In addition, the average annual salary is £33,774, which is slightly higher than other places that feature in the list, which gives the town an overall affordability ratio of 17.32.
The average house price has risen from £550,000 in the previous year, although the average salary decreased from £33,867 to £33,774 in the same time period.
The table below shows the top ten most expensive places to live in the UK, based on the annual salary, the average price of a house and the combined affordability ratio.
|Location||Average house price (GBP)||Average annual salary (GBP)||Affordability ratio|
|Kensington and Chelsea||£1,247,500||£34,157||36.52|
|Richmond upon Thames||£700,000||£35,684||19.62|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||£753,750||£39,005||19.32|
|Epsom and Ewell||£523,000||£29,084||17.98|
London house prices are some of the highest in the country, which means that the vast majority of the most expensive locations in the UK are London boroughs, predominately those that are near the city centre. Kensington and Chelsea, which is famed for its links to the Royal Family, tops the list with an average house price of £1,247,500 and an average annual salary of £34,157.
While Richmond upon Thames may not be the most affordable city, it is regularly named one of the happiest places to live in the capital city. The average sold price for properties in the borough is £700,000, while the average salary is £35,684. Westminster also has one of the most expensive average house prices at £855,000, although the city is also famous for having the highest crime rate of all the London boroughs.
As with the rest of the country, the vast majority of these places have seen average house prices rise, although the salaries aren’t increasing to match this.