To rent or to buy?

By Charlie Jacoby, August 12, 2010
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22 Burgess Hill, West Hampstead, to rent at £1,950 per week.

22 Burgess Hill, West Hampstead, to rent at £1,950 per week.

New research by Zoopla.co.uk shows that buying a home beats renting in 74 per cent of cases around Britain, in financial terms. And the conclusion is that it is still cheaper to buy than rent in London, despite high prices. Huddersfield tops the list of places where renting beats buying.

According to the Zoopla statistics, buying remains cheaper than renting in around three quarters (74 per cent) of the locations studied, with average monthly mortgage repayments being eight per cent lower than the cost of renting (assuming interest-only mortgage at five per cent interest per annum).

In Huddersfield, the average two-bedroom flat costs only £493 per month to rent, versus £146,898 to buy. Renting is also cheaper than buying in a number of other places including Oldham, Brighton, Swansea and Edinburgh.

At the other end of the scale, Dundee comes in top of the list of places where buying is currently the best option, with average asking prices for two-bedroom flats at only £88,263, versus £530 per month in rent.

Other locations around Britain where buying is by far the better choice at current asking prices include Birmingham, Derby, Cambridge and Milton Keynes. Even in London, which has the highest rents in the country, buying is still the more cost-effective option, with average rents on two-bedroom flats currently at £2,155 per month, versus average asking prices at an eye-watering £446,345.

Meanwhile, Easyroommate.co.uk reveals that York is the UK's cheapest city for sharing a flat, at £270 pcm for a room - 14 per cent of average monthly wage. The Welsh cities also performed well, with both Cardiff (14 per cent of monthly income spent on rent) and Swansea (15 per cent) in the top five most affordable.

Southampton is least affordable, just ahead of London. Costs for renting a room set to soar 10 per cent in two years - with gulf between South East and rest of UK set to increase, says Easyroommate.

Easyroommate's Jonathan Moore says: "With public sector spending cuts on the way, unemployment will rise. Fewer people will be able to afford to buy properties - or to rent on their own. This will push up demand for flatshare and rents will continue to soar.

"We expect the monthly rents to rise by 10 per cent across the UK over the next two years, with an increasing gulf between the rental market in the South East and the rest of the UK.

"But despite the imminent public-sector job losses, the financial services sector shows signs of recovery and more jobs are becoming available in London. As demand for accommodation from young professionals grows, we anticipate the cost of room rental in London to top £600 per month."

So if you want to rent in London - officially now the least affordable and offering the least value compared to buying - what's on offer? Estate agent Knight Frank offers some of the most expensive properties in North London. It has a five-bedroom house in West Hampstead, NW2 at an asking price of £1,950 per week. This has four double bedrooms, a single bedroom/study, WC, interconnecting reception and dining room with hardwood floors and a kitchen/family room leading to a manicured private garden with terrace. The property also has a roof terrace, off-street parking for two cars and a purpose-built children's adventure play area.

Knight Frank also has a contemporary three-bedroom apartment on the third and fourth floor of a period conversion in Belsize Park, to let at an asking price of £720 per week. This features a large master bedroom with en suite bathroom, two further double bedrooms, a family bathroom and a large open plan reception room and kitchen. The property is just a short walk from either Swiss Cottage Station (Jubilee Line) or Belsize Park Station (Northern Line) and the shopping amenities of the Finchley Road.

    Last updated: 11:11am, August 12 2010