If you’re looking for a vibrant city with a small-town community, Durham could be the perfect place to call home.
Durham’s magnificent skyline showcases a small city crammed with historical wonder and world-renowned heritage. Once the site of medieval pilgrimage, the grandiose Norman cathedral and 11th Century castle that dominate the city, still continue to draw in and dazzle crowds today.
Yet rather than being a city fed only by its tourism and global top-100 university, campaigns and initiatives are finally flaunting this beautiful city as an outstanding place to live and work. With regeneration projects and increasing employment opportunities, this little city that punches above its weight is a great place to buy a home.
How much will it cost to buy?
For buyers, the current average asking price is £239,001. The table, below, shows how many properties have sold in Durham over the past 12 months, the average sale price and the current average value based on Zoopla's data.
What about renters?
Average asking rents in Durham currently stand at £1,104 per month. Renters will need to budget around £1659 a month for a two-bedroom flat or £1015 a month for a four-bedroom house.
Finding an estate agent
Whether you’re buying or renting, you can choose the right agent with our handy AgentFinder tool. It allows you to compare the number of listings and time it takes to sell from local agents. There's a total of 27 sales and letting agents in Durham listed on Zoopla.
Living in Durham: what to expect
Amidst the winding cobbled streets and thousand-year-old architecture, pockets of innovation and regeneration are adding to the historical layers of this ever-rejuvenating city.
The Milingburngate regeneration project is underway and will see over £100m pumped into a multi-purpose residential and commercial development. With the creation of 153 build-to-rent apartments, office units and retail and leisure favourites, the project will create an important space to live, work and unwind.
Another key project is the redevelopment of Aykley Heads County Hall into a major business park for future high technology industries. The initiative plans to bring 6000 job opportunities to the city and provide much sought-after office space for businesses wishing to relocate to the centre.
Many industries are vying for city-centre space, placing Durham as a key employer of the North East. As a compact and well-connected city with breathtaking sites, it's easy to see why businesses and families are wishing to settle here.
Durham is also on the doorstep of wild and rugged countryside and coastline, including the Durham Dales and the North Pennines - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Miles of open moorland with little light pollution also make Durham a stargazing hotspot.
Where to start your property search
City centre: If you want to be near the train station, look to North End and Fieldhouse Lane. The streets are lined with grand Edwardian properties that boast attractive period features.
For spectacular views across the river to the cathedral and castle, opt for the Crossgate area. The cobbled streets are home to spacious period townhouses and stone terraces with decent-sized gardens.
You can also secure views of the historic city centre with a property in the Gilesgate area. Homes here include period and listed townhouses, which are easily accessible from the A1.
Or if you’d prefer a new-build home, check out the estate on South Road – just a 30-minute walk from the city centre. You can choose from substantial detached or semi-detached family homes.
At the higher end of the market, look at St Anne’s Court for two- and three-bedroom flats with private landscaped gardens and views of the city centre.
If you have a tighter budget, consider the flats above shops in St Andrew’s Court or period conversions on St Godric’s Court.
There are numerous good schools in and around the city. These include Framwellgate Moor Primary School, Durham Johnston Comprehensive School and Durham Sixth Form Centre, all of which were rated ‘outstanding’ at their last Ofsted inspections.
Suburbs: Try Neville’s Cross, just a short walk from the very centre of the city, where there are new-build townhouses on Faraday Court and modest Victorian terraced homes on roads, such as Lowes Barn Bank.
For a rural setting, head for Shincliffe village, just five miles to the south of the city. Opt for country cottages with beamed ceilings on roads such as Willow Tree Avenue, or a 17th-century terrace on Manor Close.
Another popular village is Lanchester. Check out the three-bedroom semis on Durham Road and Alderside Crescent, or try a quirky cottage on Howden Bank. Luxury new-build apartments are also on offer at Lynwood House.
If you want to be a bit further from the city, the market town of Bishop Auckland could be a good option. Large semis with bay windows can be found on Byron Avenue, while large detached homes are available in quiet cul-de-sacs such as Middlehope Grove.
There are also some notable developments underway within Durham's surrounding villages, Sherburn Hill for example. The Pastures development from Keepmoat is currently offering a range of new-build properties there. Two-bedroom homes start from as £107,000 (below the first stamp duty threshold) while four-bedroom family homes are available from around £180,000. The Government's Help to Buy scheme is also available on many of the purchases making it more affordable still.
In the village of Ushaw Moor, the Middlewood Moor development by Taylor Wimpey also offers brand-new homes.
What’s for sale
... for the first-time buyer?
For those looking to step on the property ladder, this house presents a rare opportunity to own a Grade II listed home in a city centre location. And if that's not enough, this charming terrace has views of Durham's historic cathedral and is ideally situated for shopping, recreation and transport links.
Available via Ben Charles
…for the family?
With a quiet cul-de-sac location in a popular residential area and surrounded by highly-regarded schools, this three bedroom detached house caters for all your family needs. All rooms are well-presented and spacious - requiring little beyond the personal touch to make it the perfect home.
Available via Reeds Rains
... for renters?
This deceptively spacious house sits within close proximity to the city centre and comes complete with three well-sized bedrooms and two reception rooms. It's particularly reasonably priced as it's just a five-minute walk from the University Hospital, making it an ideal rental for hospital staff.
Available via Bridgfords
... with the biggest discount?
With a substantial 17.9% reduction over the last year, this period bungalow in walking distance of the historic city centre could be a steal. Along with its two reception rooms and three bedrooms, those in want of a bit of extra space can make use of the workshop, which is fitted out with worktops, a sink and electric sockets.
Available via Reeds Rains
The most popular Durham property currently for sale is…
On the outskirts of the city in the sought-after area of Whitesmocks, you'll find this gorgeous five-bedroom home with a modern yet unique style that explains the high level of interest in the property. The kitchen is a delight with its open-plan design and bi-fold doors that open onto a show-stopper garden.
Available via Purple Bricks
Getting around Durham
Four trains per hour run to Newcastle with a journey time of 10 to 20 minutes. Edinburgh can be reached in just under two hours while a journey to London takes three hours.
By car: The A1(M) passes to the east of the city. To the west is the A167, which runs north to south from Newark-on-Trent to Chesterfield. The A691, which runs to the north west, is also nearby, as is the A690, which tracks towards Sunderland.
By air: The Durham Tees Valley International Airport is just a 40 minute drive from the centre of Durham. This airport offers four daily flights to Amsterdam, from which travellers can connect to other international flights. Regular flights to Aberdeen are also available.
Newcastle International Airport is also half an hour away by car. Travellers can choose from 80 direct destinations, which are offered by airlines such as easyJet, Flybe and Ryanair.
Things to do in Durham
History: Take a tour of Durham Castle to discover the history of one of the city’s most historic monuments. The castle is now part of Durham University and has been occupied since the 11th century.
Durham Cathedral, the city’s other most recognisable building, is also a must-see. Admire its architecture and cavernous vaulted ceiling.
Wander the gardens, orchard and maze at Crook Hall. This 13th-century hall is only a short walk from the cathedral and serves cream teas in its courtyard. Look out for the ‘White Lady’, who is said to haunt the area, while you’re there.
Visit Durham University – and while you’re there, look at the Egyptian mummies, Chinese porcelain and head-hunting swords from Borneo at the Oriental Museum.
Culture: Head to the Gala Theatre to see performances from leading theatre companies. It also contains four cinema screens which show all the latest blockbusters along with live screenings of West End theatre performances and live concerts.
You can also see amateur theatrical groups at City Theatre. This bijou venue hosts the Durham Dramatic Society, which puts on regular performances throughout the year.
Outdoors: Enjoy the Durham Regatta from the banks of the river. It takes place every June and is thought to be the second oldest regatta in England.
You can also climb up to the 19th-century battlements at Wharton Park and take in spectacular views of the city.
Walk or cycle through the rolling hills of the nearby Durham Dales, discovering unspoilt countryside, waterfalls and panoramic views.
Alternatively, head to the North Pennines for open heather moors, woods and hay meadows.
Shopping: Prince Bishops Shopping Centre, located right in the heart of Durham, is the city's premier shopping venue, home to major brands such as Boots, H&M and New Look.
For locally-made goods, browse the stalls at Durham Market Hall. This Victorian hall is home to more than 50 independent traders who sell everything from vintage clothing to traditional sweets.
Food and drink: Discover the secrets of beer-making at the Durham Brewery. The microbrewery is just a 10-minute drive from the city centre and offers tours outlining the history of beer and beer culture. You can then enjoy a tutored tasting of the brewer’s draught and bottled beers.
If you love a cup of tea, settle down in Tealicious Tea Room. This dedicated tea shop serves 17 individual blends of loose tea alongside homemade cakes, scones and sandwiches. Try the traditional ‘Durham Miner’s Brew’ of Assam and Kenyan black tea.
Spice up your evening with a curry from Shaheens Indian, a Durham favourite that has been serving up traditional and authentic Indian cuisine for over 30 years.
If comfort food is more your thing, head to Fat Hippo, a trendy space where you'll find quirky gourmet burgers with names such as Swiss Tony and Tropic Thunder. There's even a selection of vegetarian and vegan burgers available, including the Shroom Raider.
Durham is home to the UK’s biggest light festival. This biennial event turns the city into a series of installations that make use of historic buildings and light to create magical projections.
5 reasons to live in Durham
- Affordable homes
- Historical city centre
- Easy access to the Durham Dales
- Good train connections to cities such as Newcastle
- Range of independent and mainstream shops
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