We take a brief look at the best and worst cities for first time buyers.  Getting on the property ladder for the first time remains a challenge.  Young people are having to wait longer to do so.  The average first-time buyer is now 30 years old.

When choosing your first home, it’s not just house prices you need to take into account. As well as house prices consider other factors such as crime rates and local job opportunities to help inform your decision and ensure you’re in the location best suited to you.

The best cities for first-time buyers


Average cost of a one-bedroom property: £247,456

Bath is the best British city to be a first-time buyer, according to MoneySuperMarket.   The average price of an one-bedroom property is relatively high, at almost £250,000. Buyers benefit, however, from the highest number of jobs per capita of any city on the list.  It is one of the best places for disposable income.

Bath’s property market has seen a vast improvement in 2019.  One of the key factors is the flood of first-time buyers moving out of London to look for more affordable property elsewhere.

State education is well regarded in Bath with options of both co-ed and single-sex schools.  The city works well for people who want to work part-time from home, and travel into London or Reading for two or three days a week.  Commuters can be in Paddington in an hour and a half.

Bath is also in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The surrounding countryside provides stunning walks and views with the River Avon and the Kennett & Avon Canal meandering through the valley.


Average cost of a one-bedroom property: £106,050

Ranked with Bath in the top five are Wolverhampton, Chester, Aberdeen and Derby. A one-bedroom property in these cities costs from £86,418 to £106,050.  Derby is the cheapest.  Chester is the most expensive.

Chester is a former Roman city.  It offers a pretty mix of black-and-white Tudor houses and riverside views. It saw one of the biggest improvements in the rankings, shooting up five places.  This is  thanks to a drop in rates of theft and an increase in job opportunities. A one-bedroom property in Chester costs almost £30,000 less than the national average.

The housing market in Chester and the surrounding area is being supported by ongoing investment and increased prosperity in Manchester.  20 per cent of those buying in Chester with Savills last year came from London and the South East.

The city has been enhanced by high quality properties within walking distance of the growing range of cafes and restaurants and the wonderful cultural opportunities provided by venues such as the Storyhouse theatre.

Chester has become a wonderful place to live.  It is a hub for some of the best schools in the region. Families are attracted to Victorian and Edwardian houses to the south of the city.  This also boasts pretty Georgian terraces and a full range of modern developments – from townhouses to apartments. The beautiful rolling countryside and coastal areas of North Wales also provide a major attraction.  There are some stunning locations on the western side of the Wirral.


Average cost of a one-bedroom property: £93,600

Aberdeen ranked 16 places ahead of Glasgow and 27 places above Edinburgh. Buyers here enjoy relatively a low contents theft rate and higher-than-average disposable income. At just under £100,000, buying a one-bedroom property in Aberdeen is viable option for many young buyers.

Susanna Clark, director of research for Strutt & Parker in Scotland says that, while average house prices in the country are rising,  property here remains considerably less expensive than in many other parts of Britain. “With average deposits for first homes currently half of the UK average, we are likely to see increasing activity from first time buyers in Scotland,” she adds.


Average cost of a one-bedroom property: £86,418

“The market in Derby remains very active, particularly up to the £250,000 mark,” says Paul Bird, of estate agency Bagshaws Residential Derby.

“We have high levels of first-time buyers registering, which seems to be our core market at the moment, and there is also good demand for new-builds currently, stimulated by Help to Buy.”

Derby is home to several large employers including Rolls-Royce, Bombardier and Toyota, as well as numerous good schools including Littleover Community School,  Ecclesbourne School and Chellaston Acadamy School.

Last year’s best city for first-time buyers, Oxford, plummeted down the rankings to eighth place. This was the result of a sharp spike in contents theft, which more than doubled from 12.2 to 30.5 cases per 1,000 residents.

The worst cities for first-time buyers


Average cost of a one-bedroom property: £486,924

The worst city to be a first-time buyer for the second year running is London. A one-bedroom property in the capital costs on average £486,924, more than £350,000 above the national average.

In a sprawling city such as London there are, however, always variations. “It all depends on whether you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market,” says Gavin Brazg, founder of property research agency PropCast. “In the former there’s lots of stock and people are keen to sell, meaning buyers have more power. In the latter there’s not as much supply as demand, so buyers no longer have the upper hand.”

He identified E20 around Stratford and E14 by the Docklands as two areas currently better suited to buyers than sellers.

Uncertainty surrounding Brexit has cast a dark cloud over the capital, and property prices have not been left unscathed, says Reuben John of estate agency Fine and Country. This may create an ideal buying opportunity for first-timers in London.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number of first-time buyer enquiries with many would be home-owners realizing that with low interest rates and less competition from other buyers, now might be the time to take that first step onto the property ladder.”


Average cost of a one-bedroom property: £156,3000

Birmingham, Sheffield, Leicester, Edinburgh were also named in the bottom five. Birmingham and Edinburgh dropped six and seven places from last year respectively. Average annual salaries and disposable income in Birmingham have decreased by 22 per cent over the past year, while Edinburgh saw instances of contents theft rise.

A one-bedroom property costs on average £156,300 in Birmingham and £186,575 in Edinburgh.


Average cost of a one-bedroom property: £101,955

Sheffield suffered in the ranking because of its relative lack of job opportunities. However, it is the cheapest city to buy a one-bedroom house in the bottom five, at just under £102,000.

Leicester also scored poorly first-time buyers, partly due to the drop in average annual salaries in the city, from £30,576 to £24,300 over the past year. In the same period the cost of a one-bedroom property has increased by around £8,000 to £109,420.