England's most affordable country escapes found in the east

A new analysis of buying trends and price gaps between detached homes in rural and urban areas across England has found that the East of England is the most affordable area of England for homebuyers seeking a rural retreat.

Related topics:  Property,  House Prices,  Rural,  Country estate
Property | Reporter
22nd November 2023
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"The East of England has grown in popularity over the last two years, home to the Cambridge-Oxford Arc as a melting pot for innovation and urban expansion"
- Nick Leeming - Jackson-Stops

With post-pandemic lifestyle preferences and working patterns in a state of flux, national estate agency, Jackson-Stops has analysed the prices of detached homes in rural and urban settings across England as part of its latest research.

Its findings highlight four regions – the East of England, West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire & Humber – where the average sale price of a detached home is less expensive in rural escapes than in urban centres.

The research also found that nearly two in five (39%) buyers of detached homes across England have bought in rural settings over the last decade, indicating the increasing demand for country life.

East of England offers the most affordable escapes to the country

The East of England is by far the most affordable for people seeking an escape to the country, with the average detached home selling for 37% less in rural areas than in urban areas (£487,483 vs. £772,396).

The price difference has increased from 34% before the pandemic, resulting from urban house prices having risen 14% in areas such as Cambridge compared with 9% in rural surroundings.

The trend gives country homebuyers in the East of England more house for their money and shows the breadth of opportunities available in the region for buyers looking for greener pastures. Locations in the East of England that proved the most popular for buying a detached home in 2023 included Whittlesey, Watton, and Dersingham.

Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops, says: “The East of England has grown in popularity over the last two years, home to the Cambridge-Oxford Arc as a melting pot for innovation and urban expansion. Whilst rural hubs around Suffolk and Norfolk have increased in demand thanks to the rise in flexible working and lifestyle trends, there remains plenty of opportunities here for buyers looking for the best of both worlds.”

Daryl Parr, Director of Jackson-Stops Colchester, adds: “Essex continues to be one of the most affordable home counties for those moving out of London. This means families can get a large, detached house in a green location, within an hour of the capital.

“There are houses that will tick all the boxes and sell quickly – these are set in the real diamonds of villages, in the heart of Constable country, usually right behind an old church. Hidden gem villages in the golden triangle between Ipswich, Chelmsford and Colchester are becoming more popular with buyers, where picture-postcard country views are plenty.”

The South West boasts the most aspirational rural locations based on price and buyer appetite

At the opposite end of the scale, the South West is where regional homebuyers pay the highest premium for rural homes, with an average 2023 sale price 11% higher than in urban areas (£563,786 vs. £508,006).

This is up from 8% in 2022 and a reverse of the pre-pandemic trend, with detached properties in urban parts of the South West selling for 4% more than rural properties in 2019.

However, Jackson-Stops’ analysis shows the South West has seen the biggest shift in buyer preferences over the last decade in favour of rural retreats. So far this year, 62% of people buying detached homes in the region have opted for rural locations, up from 54% in 2013.

Cornwall tops the charts for the volume of rural buyers; a position held for over a decade and well before the pandemic – a period often cited as the defining moment for rural buyers in the race for space.

Richard Holder, Director at Jackson-Stops Cornwall, comments: “The West Country has a long legacy of drawing in all types of home buyers from across the country, lured in by rolling landscapes and blissful beaches.

“But Cornwall in particular is the kind of place that puts a spell on you – the romanticism of Poldark is more than just on-screen. Its laid-back nature, warm sense of community, and close affiliation with nature make Cornwall the ultimate countryside lovers retreat.

"Name any hamlet here and no doubt you’ll find a cobbled street lined with pretty cottages, surrounded by wildlife and heritage. It’s a magnet for downsizers and entrepreneurs, offering the good life in spades.”

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