House prices have gone through the roof in these hotspots – but buyers can still bag a bargain by looking at their cheaper next-door neighbours
After years of big house price rises, some locations are now borderline unaffordable.
But fear not, there’s a glut of new locations close to old favourites that are coming into their own.
Here are five of the best.
Up and coming: Demand for properties in coastal Exmouth, Devon, with its two-mile sandy beach (pictured), is growing
Worthing instead of Brighton
The average house price in Worthing is about £385,000, a cool 75 grand less than Brighton’s £460,000. It’s good for hybrid workers in the office a few days a week —it’s 90 minutes to London by train or 20 minutes to Brighton.
Karen Standing, a director at estate agency Hamptons, has moved home from Brighton to Worthing with no regrets. ‘Worthing’s no longer the retirement town it was, but a lively and vibrant seaside spot,’ she says.
‘It’s seen huge growth in independent restaurants, al fresco dining along the seafront and beachfront cafes.
A rarely on sale, five-storey Georgian townhouse on Worthing seafront will set you back up to £1.5 million, but inland you can get an Edwardian six-bedroom semi-detached family home for under £800,000 — a far cry from Brighton prices.
Banbury instead of Oxford
There’s a clear house price difference. Banbury averages just £357,000 against Oxford’s £554,000 — but there are other advantages.
Oxford is introducing controversial new traffic restrictions for residents while Banbury has a quick rail link into London Marylebone of 65 minutes.
A new out-of-town retail park, Gateway Banbury, has opened just off the M40, while the existing in-town Castle Quay shopping centre has been upgraded and includes a popular arts centre. Waitrose has opened a Banbury superstore, too.
James Shaw, director of buying agency Prime Purchase, says: ‘Moving that bit further out gets you better value for money and a more affordable family home, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see upward pressure on prices as a result.’
Ely instead of Cambridge
With its spectacular medieval cathedral, cluster of parks, well regarded schools and a host of annual fairs and festivals, Ely, officially one of the UK’s smallest cities, can’t be described as being second best to Cambridge.
But it certainly offers better value-for-money homes — an average of £321,000 compared to Cambridge’s £493,000.
‘Buyers often come from London or Cambridge, two of the most expensive cities in the UK,’ says Edward Russell of estate agency Jackson Stops.
Fast trains to the capital are around 70 minutes and there are new homes being built: the largest scheme is Orchards Green, a 200-acre site just north of the city which will have 1,200 homes.
Ely’s family-friendly image is cemented by the modern Ely Leisure Village.
Exmouth instead of Exeter
The university city of Exeter may have an academic and sporting pedigree, but the city lacks a beautiful coastline.
That’s why Exmouth, with its two-mile sandy beach with a 200-berth marina, is so popular as a family-friendly alternative just 35 minutes from Exeter by train.
Prices are similar to Exeter’s (Zoopla puts both locations as selling homes for an average £377,000 in the past year) but Exmouth has a fast-developing reputation as a water sports hotspot.
A semi-detached three-bed house in Exmouth starts at £280,000 while a two-bedroom apartment in the marina costs £325,000.
Inland, a detached home with garden is up to £550,000 while exceptional properties with uninterrupted sea views will hit £1 million.
‘Demand has grown due to Exmouth’s strong appeal to a range of buyers, and because houses are cheaper than other popular locations nearby such as Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth,’ says Nick Cunningham of Stacks Property Search.
Salford instead of Manchester
A decade ago you could buy a home in Salford for under £100,000, but then the area was put on the map when the BBC built its MediaCity behemoth and now that’s been joined by ITV and a string of other creative giants.
Little wonder that its average property price (£217,000, says Zoopla) isn’t far behind the all-Manchester norm of £241,000.
There’s more to come in this new community dominated by modern apartments, many of them rented to professional tenants.
Investment specialists tip the location for future price growth thanks to the council’s local plan forecasting 40,000 new jobs and an 11 per cent boost in the local population by 2037.
On the market… new favourites
West Sussex: There are three bedrooms in this grade II‑listed lodge. The property is in Worthing, West Sussex, and has a gym in the garage plus a lovely garden. Savills, 01798 345980. £950,000
Devon: This three storey modern house is in Exmouth. There are 1,450 square feet of space including four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a garage and off-street parking. Bradleys, 01395 222300. £650,000
Oxfordshire: This five-bed house in Banbury has open-plan living spaces, some with floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s a garden featuring a raised deck and home office annexe. Strutt and Parker, 01295 641123. £650,000