What square footage can you afford on your house budget?

Image of properties overlooking the water at Topsham, Exeter, Devon
The average home in Topsham, near Exeter in Devon, gives you 734 sq ft of living space for a £250,000 property

In an exercise replicating a Office of National Statistics report published in 2017, that examined how much one square metre costs in different areas of England and Wales, an online tool ‘Swing-a-Cat’ reveals the price to space ratio of average properties across England. The tool has been created by the property website Bankrate (part of the Zoopla Property Group, along with Zoopla, uSwitch, Hometrack, and Money.co.uk).

According to the analysis, the square footage of the average UK home is now 20% smaller than in the 1970s, the period during which Britain built the biggest houses, making the average home nowadays just 730 sq ft.

The average house sold in England and Wales in 2016 had a floor area of 104 metres squared – that’s about two-fifths the size of a tennis court, or 70 times smaller than the football pitch at Wembley.

Unsurprisingly, in terms of square footage the most expensive postcodes within the UK are in London. Property in the London Borough of Westminster W1K postcode works out at an average £2,480 per sq ft. On average, buying a £250,000 property here would give you a home of just 101 sq ft.

If owning a home in London is essential and you are on a tighter budget, Bexley and Barking are far more affordable and buying a property here would give you a home of 600-700 sq ft for your £250,000 purchase price.

Whatever your reason for moving home, whether London’s not for you, you’re considering upping sticks and moving home or area, perhaps even as you approach retirement age and are just seeking an escape to the country, here’s a glimpse of where is most affordable outside London.

In the South West of England, properties around the appealing and rugged coastline of North Devon offers some of the best value. In Torridge, £250,000 would buy you 1,272 sq ft of property while homes are more expensive around the City of Exeter and East Devon, where commuting is easier and there is better infrastructure. South of Exeter, Topsham ranks most expensive, at 734 sq ft for a property of £250,000.

With a rich history of industry and innovation, Middlesborough in North Yorkshire is the best value countrywide, where a property priced at the national average would give you a spacious home of 5,349 sq ft. In 2018, Middlesborough was named in the Top 10 small cities in Europe by the Financial Times, along with Derby and Reading. Major investment has been made over the last 20 years to improve housing and infrastructure and the city offers a range of properties from Victorian terraces to more contemporary homes.

Putting the variation of house price to space ratio into context, spending one million pounds in Middlesborough would give you a home of 22,879 sq ft, while in Westminster you might be able to squeeze into a paltry 403 sq ft.

If you’re buying property anywhere in England and Wales, ask a Property Surveying Chartered Surveyor provide you with a building survey.

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