England is home to some beautiful countryside, whether it’s the dramatic peaks and lakes of Cumbria or the coastal cliffs and blue-flag beaches of Cornwall.
But with the cost of housing on the up across the country, are prospective homeowners being priced out of these areas? And where are the cheapest rural places to live in the England?
Here’s a look at how much it costs to buy property in rural England, how this compares to urban areas, and how it has changed.
With the cost of a countryside home skyrocketing, make sure to compare mortgage deals first if you’re considering a move.
Of all the areas in the country that are primarily rural, County Durham is the cheapest to move to. Here the average property price is just £122,818.
Located in the North East, County Durham is an area of great historical significance. Home to the city of Durham, which is known for its mediaeval cathedral and castle as well as one of the country’s oldest universities.
In second place is Copeland, on the west coast of Cumbria, with an average house price of just £140,165.
Copeland is a picturesque area that covers the southwestern part of the Lake District and is home to England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike.
All three of the cheapest rural areas are found in the North, with the average house in the district of Wyre costing £187,615.
Located in Lancashire, Wyre is split in two by the river that gives it its name, with Fleetwood being the biggest town in the area.
|Rank||Local authority||Region||Average house price|
|1||County Durham||North East||£122,818|
|7||West Lindsey||East Midlands||£211,761|
|8||Staffordshire Moorlands||West Midlands||£215,145|
|9||East Riding of Yorkshire||Yorkshire & the Humber||£216,463|
|10||East Lindsey||East Midlands||£219,054|
|11||Newark and Sherwood||East Midlands||£224,273|
|12||Fenland||East of England||£235,736|
|13||South Holland||East Midlands||£237,336|
|14||High Peak||East Midlands||£243,442|
|15||North Kesteven||East Midlands||£251,503|
|16||North Warwickshire||West Midlands||£251,676|
|17||Selby||Yorkshire & the Humber||£252,470|
|18||King's Lynn and West Norfolk||East of England||£257,049|
|20||South Kesteven||East Midlands||£260,317|
|21||Craven||Yorkshire & the Humber||£263,038|
|22||North West Leicestershire||East Midlands||£265,283|
|23||Tendring||East of England||£266,027|
|24||Richmondshire||Yorkshire & the Humber||£266,236|
On the other hand, the area where you’ll fork out the biggest premium to live in the countryside is Waverley, in Surrey. Here the average price of a property is £536,336.
Waverley has some of the most green space in the country and borders the North Downs, with major towns including Godalming, Farnham and Haslemere.
Winchester itself is a small city, but the area surrounding it is largely rural and is among the most expensive in the country at £507,658.
The surrounding area is home to towns and villages such as Bishop's Waltham, Denmead, New Alresford, and Kings Worthy.
Yet another area in the South East of the country completes the top three most expensive rural areas, at just under £500,000.
The area is dominated by the Chiltern Hills and its biggest town is Henley-on-Thames, known for the famous Henley Royal Regatta.
|Rank||Local authority||Region||Average house price|
|3||South Oxfordshire||South East||£495,695|
|5||Uttlesford||East of England||£479,509|
|9||South Cambridgeshire||East of England||£443,896|
|10||Vale of White Horse||South East||£422,393|
|11||East Hampshire||South East||£419,597|
|13||Maldon||East of England||£410,031|
|14||West Oxfordshire||South East||£392,925|
|15||South Hams||South West||£384,446|
|17||Central Bedfordshire||East of England||£371,354|
|21||East Cambridgeshire||East of England||£354,863|
|22||Babergh||East of England||£351,243|
|23||East Devon||South West||£348,138|
|24||Braintree||East of England||£346,104|
The average house price in rural areas currently stands at £314,500. However, back in 2017, the average cost in these same areas was just £239,842. This means that rural property prices have grown by just under a third in the past five years.
To compare, house prices in urban areas have risen from £273,224 to £328,234 over the same period, an increase of around a quarter.
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to have played some part in this. Buyers are increasingly looking for more space and are not necessarily being tied to the city for work commitments anymore.
Tied to this, fewer homes are going on sale in rural areas, with potential sellers instead choosing to stay put, which inflates prices even further.
But which rural areas have seen demand increase the most?
With a five-year price increase of almost half, it seems that the rural area most in demand is North Devon. Here prices have risen from £217,667 to £323,394 over the past five years.
North Devon is popular for its beaches, dramatic cliffs and wild seas, and it also borders the Exmoor National Park.
Not too far behind is Harborough, in the East Midlands, which has seen an increase of 48%.
The town of Market Harborough has been named the most liveable place in England in the past. The town also benefits from the fact that it is just an hour away from London on the train.
In third place is Torridge, which is located adjacent to North Devon and has seen house prices increase by 45.81% in the past five years.
As with North Devon, it is known for its rugged coastline and undisturbed natural beauty. The South West Coast Path also offers a defined trail to explore the best of the area.
|1||North Devon||South West||£217,667||£323,394||48.57%|
|4||Forest of Dean||South West||£213,905||£307,780||43.89%|
|5||North Norfolk||East of England||£231,932||£331,302||42.84%|
|7||North West Leicestershire||East Midlands||£186,922||£265,283||41.92%|
|8||Ryedale||Yorkshire & the Humber||£206,372||£291,798||41.39%|
|9||Mid Devon||South West||£214,578||£300,156||39.88%|
|12||Hinckley and Bosworth||East Midlands||£195,747||£271,361||38.63%|
|13||Isle of Wight||South East||£202,637||£280,340||38.35%|
|14||Richmondshire||Yorkshire & the Humber||£193,235||£266,236||37.78%|
|16||Derbyshire Dales||East Midlands||£235,335||£323,638||37.52%|
|17||High Peak||East Midlands||£177,345||£243,442||37.27%|
|18||North Warwickshire||West Midlands||£183,402||£251,676||37.23%|
|19||Newark and Sherwood||East Midlands||£164,071||£224,273||36.69%|
|20||South Hams||South West||£281,983||£384,446||36.34%|
|22||Fenland||East of England||£173,118||£235,736||36.17%|
|24||West Lindsey||East Midlands||£155,671||£211,761||36.03%|
|25||South Norfolk||East of England||£243,287||£330,253||35.75%|
Demand hasn’t necessarily increased quite so much across the whole country. The rural area where house prices have risen the least is East Hampshire, although even here they have still gone up by 13.58%.
Made up of chalk uplands, the area’s two principal towns are Alton and Petersfield, both of which have a number of historic landmarks and attractions.
At the other end of the country, the local authority of Copeland saw its average house price increase by just under 20%.
This area in Cumbria is situated on the coast of the Irish Sea and also covers part of the Lake District and is one of the cheapest rural places to live England.
In third place with a price increase of just over 20% is Sevenoaks, which is amongst the more expensive rural places to live England.
The area in Kent is named after the town of the same name, which is popular with those looking to commute to London.
|1||East Hampshire||South East||£369,426||£419,597||13.58%|
|4||South Cambridgeshire||East of England||£366,578||£443,896||21.09%|
|5||West Oxfordshire||South East||£322,700||£392,925||21.76%|
|6||South Oxfordshire||South East||£406,605||£495,695||21.91%|
|8||Huntingdonshire||East of England||£246,769||£303,606||23.03%|
|11||Vale of White Horse||South East||£340,300||£422,393||24.12%|
|15||County Durham||North East||£97,299||£122,818||26.23%|
|16||Hambleton||Yorkshire & the Humber||£220,847||£279,200||26.42%|
|17||Central Bedfordshire||East of England||£292,543||£371,354||26.94%|
|18||West Devon||South West||£230,966||£293,215||26.95%|
|19||South Lakeland||North West||£222,888||£283,365||27.13%|
|20||King's Lynn and West Norfolk||East of England||£201,512||£257,049||27.56%|
|21||Braintree||East of England||£270,666||£346,104||27.87%|
|23||Uttlesford||East of England||£374,689||£479,509||27.98%|
Instagram posts: 8.6m
TikTok views: 580.3m
Looking at the rural areas that get the most love on social media, the winner by some distance is Cornwall. Cornwall is both the most posted about county on Instagram and also most viewed on TikTok.
It’s easy to see why, with the area being packed with sandy beaches, as well as picture-perfect seaside villages such as St Ives and Padstow.
Instagram posts: 4.7m
TikTok views: 371.4m
Just up the coast from Cornwall is Devon, and that’s the county that takes second place here. Devon appears in 4.7 million Instagram posts and has been viewed more than 370 million times on TikTok.
As we’ve seen, house prices are on the up in Devon, which, like Cornwall, has some great beaches, cliffs and moorlands to explore.
Instagram posts: 4.0m
TikTok views: 173.2m
Norfolk comes in third place, with 4 million Instagram posts and more than 170 million views on TikTok.
This East Anglian county is perhaps best known for the Broads. These are a network of rivers and lakes that crisscross the east of the county and form a national park area.
|Rank||County||Instagram posts||TikTok views||Social score /10|
|9||Isle of Wight||1.2m||40.6m||6|
|19||Isles of Scilly||0.1m||12.2m||1.25|
|21||East Riding of Yorkshire||0.2m||4.1m||0.25|
The average cost of a house in rural local authorities in England currently stands at £314,500, as of March 2022.
Looking specifically at rural house prices, the area where prices are increasing the most is North Devon. Prices here have increased from £217,667 in 2017 to £323,394 in 2022, an increase of 48.57%.
However, taking all areas into account, the palace where house prices are increasing the most is Tameside, Greater Manchester. Here prices have increased from £131,577 in 2017 to £198,295 in 2022, an increase of 50.71%.
The cheapest local authority in which to buy a rural property is currently County Durham, as of March 2022. The average cost to buy a property in County Durham is currently £122,818.
Rural house prices (and prices in general) are higher than ever currently, even in the face of such economic uncertainty.
But with an increasing cost of living crisis, with inflation, interest rates, taxes and energy bills all on the rise, can house prices keep going up?
Experts on the matter don’t seem to have much certainty on whether house prices will drop in 2022. However, while demand continues to outstrip supply, it’s unlikely that 2022 will see a drastic drop in house prices.
The English countryside is truly beautiful, both the dramatic peaks and the coastal cliffs are some of the best rural places to live in the UK. If you are looking for inspiration for your next move why not explore more in our guides here:
To identify which local authority areas are rural and urban, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ 2011 Local Authority Rural Urban Classification was used.
The average house price in each of these areas was then sourced using HM Land Registry’s UK House Price Index reports for March 2022 and March 2017.
This was then used to take an average of the costs in both rural and urban areas and the difference between them in different parts of the country, as well as how they have increased in the last five years.
The number of Instagram posts and the number of views on TikTok videos that mention counties that are predominantly rural (according to the 2011 Rural Urban Classification lookup tables for all geographies) were also used to reveal the most beautiful rural areas to live in (figures correct as of May 20th, 2022).
James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments - picking up a series of awards for his journalism along the way.