Home to gorgeous countryside, bustling beachside towns and two royal boroughs: Tunbridge Wells and Windsor and Maidenhead, there’s a lot to love about South East England.
Many parts of the region are within easy reach of the capital, making it a popular commuter hotspot.
Running from Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire at its northern-most tip, down to the Isle of Wight and Kent’s white cliffs of Dover in the south, the counties of Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire and the coastal areas of East and West Sussex can all be found here.
With four of its nine counties bordering the capital (Kent, Surrey, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire) the South East can be an expensive place to set up home.
But some parts are a lot less expensive than others. Let’s take a look at the most affordable property hotspots there.
Most affordable areas in South East England
Average home value: £249,140
Cost: 6.85 x annual salary (£36,391)
The winner in our cheapest places to buy a home in the South East is the coastal town of Dover.
With those famous white cliffs overlooking France, this coastal town boasts some fancy neighbours, with historic Canterbury, bohemian Deal and the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty all under 30 minutes away.
Home to spies and agents during the Second World War, Dover’s Secret Wartime Tunnels became the headquarters for the dramatic rescue of British and allied troops during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Today, this coastal town attracts first-time buyers and families alike, with large family detached homes offering seaside views, alongside riverside cottages and new-build homes.
Just over an hour from London St Pancras on the fast service, Dover has well regarded grammar, private and state schools, with 12 of the latter camp achieving Outstanding status from Ofsted.
Average property price: £269,560
Cost: 7.19 x annual salary (£37,512)
At number two in the cheapest areas in the South East charts is Sheerness, which can be found on the Isle of Sheppey.
Featuring marshy fields dotted with sheep (after which the Isle is named), the Isle of Sheppey is well connected, with train services running to London St Pancras (90 mins), Canterbury (54 mins) and Rochester (50 mins).
The Kingsferry Bridge connects the island to the mainland, so driving to seaside gems like Whitstable (40 mins), Herne Bay (45 mins) and the Kent Downs (50 mins) is easy.
With a strong community vibe, Sheerness has some big old family homes and pretty terraced properties available in Minster and Eastchurch, while Marine Parade offers attractive Georgian terraces with seaside views.
Average property price: £257,830
Cost: 7.39 x annual salary (£34,886)
The UK’s only island city, Portsmouth is an attractive place with a buzzy vibe and miles of coastline to explore.
Famous for its maritime history, Portsmouth is home to iconic dockyards and a scenic waterfront, with a vibrant cultural scene featuring museums, galleries, theatres and music venues galore.
The city itself is compact and easy to navigate, with plenty of attractions, shops, cafes and restaurants located within a relatively small area.
Fashion fans will love Gunwharf Quays, featuring major and designer brands - plus an essential Five Guys for lunch, while Portsmouth High Street has all the high street faves and Southsea is the place to go for cool independent skate shops and boutiques.
Foodies are spoilt for choice with a range of high end eateries and cheap and cheerful options. Head to abarbistro or 36 on the Quay for a special night out, or for a top notch brunch, No64 Ryde and the Madhatter’s Tea Room are the place to go.
For a great day trip, the beautiful historic town of Chichester is half an hour's drive away, while stunning West Wittering beach is under 40 mins.
Average property price: £252,910
Cost: 7.41 x annual salary (£34,128)
Over on the Isle of Wight, the capital of Newport is brimming with Edwardian and Victorian architecture on rows of quaint pretty streets.
And if it’s good enough for Queen Victoria, who set up camp with her family at Osborne House just down the road, that’s good enough for us.
Practically a national park in itself, the Isle of Wight is one of the best places in the UK to enjoy walks and bike rides along rugged coastlines taking in the sea air.
With its stunning beaches (featuring dinosaur footprint casts - yes really), rolling hills and lush countryside - including miles of public footpaths, it's the place to enjoy the great outdoors.
Life here has a slower pace compared to mainland cities, making it perfect for those seeking a peaceful lifestyle. Plus, you can drive anywhere within 25 minutes of Newport.
5. Ryde (Isle of Wight)
Average property price: £254,915
Cost: 7.47 x annual salary (£34,128)
Also in the illustrious Isle of Wight is the beautiful coastal town of Ryde, famously the inspiration for The Beatles’ classic, She’s Got a Ticket to Ride.
With attractive Georgian houses lining the seafront, Ryde boasts miles of gorgeous sandy beaches, coastal parks and a seawall footpath meandering past lovely cafes and restaurants.
For the best shops and eateries, Union Street is the place to be with plenty of independents, while the Royal Victoria Arcade has antiques, arts and crafts galore.
Foody fans should definitely check out The Heron and The Duck for a special night out, while restaurants offering Caribbean, Indian, Thai or Turkish fare are also plentiful.
For a light bite, The Wonky Goat, No64 Ryde and the Busy Bee Garden Centre are all popular destinations, while top watering holes include The Blacksheep Bar, the Artisan Cocktail Bar and Grill and the White Hart Inn at Havenstreet.
Most affordable areas for the London commute
Average property price: £284,800
Cost: 7.81 x annual salary (£36,477)
Taking the number one spot for the most affordable areas for the London commute is Chatham in Kent.
With historic Rochester and beautiful Cobham as its neighbours, Chatham has plenty of good-value property to offer buyers, including fine Georgian homes, large Victorian houses and smaller terraces, alongside a new riverside village with modern flats overlooking the docks.
Surrounded by beautiful countryside, with country parks and postcard villages all within a short drive, Chatham also offers easy access to the south east coast.
The town centre is currently undergoing regeneration with the Chatham Waterfront Project featuring new homes and green spaces, which is expected to complete in spring this year.
With three local grammar schools, Chatham has excellent links to the capital thanks to regular train services running to London St Pancras and Victoria in around 40 minutes, while the A2 takes drivers into London in around an hour and 20 mins.
Average property price: £303,130
Cost: 8.31 x annual salary (£36,477)
Gillingham boasts a welcoming and diverse community, and its bustling High Street hosts a vibrant market every Monday and Saturday.
With top-notch transportation connections and brilliant leisure facilities including ice and roller skating rinks, the area has emerged as an attractive prospect for investors.
For shopping, Gillingham High Street and Hempstead Valley have all the essentials, while historic Rochester is right next door with plenty of great independent stores and boutiques.
For fashion fans, Bluewater is a 20 minute drive away and Lakeside 30 minutes.
When it comes to eating out, The Hollywood Bowl and Waterfront Bar and Restaurant both come highly recommended, while neighbouring Chatham and Rochester have plenty of options.
Situated near London (44 mins by train), Gillingham offers relatively affordable property prices and has witnessed substantial growth and development over the past decade.
With attractive Victorian homes at its centre, Georgian properties can be found in Brompton, while Darland offers breathtaking views over the banks.
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Average property price: £339,200
Cost: 8.35 x annual salary (£40,619)
Two-bed end-of-terrace, £350,000
The home of Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle, Basingstoke is surrounded by pretty villages in the Hampshire countryside and is just over 40 minutes from the capital by train.
Named one of the best places to live in Britain by Halifax's Quality of Living Survey, this much-loved town even has a website for fans and is a popular choice with commuters.
The buzzing centre is brimming with restaurants and has plenty to occupy avid shoppers. Head to Festival Place for high street favourites, plenty of eateries, a 10-screen Vue multiplex cinema, a Flip Out trampoline park, community library and much more.
For a relaxing afternoon, take a stroll through Eastrop Park with its boating river and lake, or the beautiful landscaped grounds of Basing House, with its walled gardens and coffee shop.
For more rural pursuits, the rolling hills and woodlands of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are just a 40 minute drive away, while the chocolate box villages of Overton, Alton, Fleet and Chawton are well worth exploring.
Average property price: £342,720
Cost: 8.53 x annual salary (£40,192)
The home of Bluewater, one of the biggest UK shopping centres with a high-end, luxury vibe, Greenhithe can be found by the River Thames in rural Kent.
Meanwhile, its next door neighbour, Swanscombe, is also looking forward to welcoming one of the UK’s biggest theme parks: The London Resort - if proposed plans get the go ahead.
With plenty of lakes and parklands to explore, Darenth and Beacon Wood Country Parks are both nearby, while the pretty villages of Eynesford, Otford and Chelsfield are all a short drive away.
The attractive village centre is filled with traditional terraces, while sparkly new-build developments line the riverside.
Greenhithe boasts excellent transport links to the capital, with direct services running to London in less than 45 minutes and the Ebbsfleet International High Speed 1 station is also within easy reach
Average property price: £326,505
Cost: 8.95 x annual salary (£36,477)
Home to a Norman castle with fabulous views over the Kent Downs and a wonderfully grand cathedral, the attractive riverside town of Rochester is beautifully quaint and comes into its own during the annual Dickens Festival at Christmas.
All cobblestone streets and twisty turny lanes, Rochester is brimming with independent antiques and crafts stores, alongside bookshops galore. In short, it’s a rather magical old town with oodles of character and charm.
Dickens spent most of his life in these parts: his childhood home was next door in Chatham and he wrote his novels at Gad’s Hill Place in nearby Higham.
Rochester’s Restoration House is the one and only Miss Havisham’s Satis House, while Pumblechook’s chambers and the Little Dorrit new age shop can also both be found here.
Steeped in culture, with museums, stately homes and beautiful architecture, Rochester also has plenty of lovely delicatessens and some great restaurants, micro pubs and coffee houses to explore.
With direct services to London Victoria (39 mins) and London Bridge (34 mins) it’s the perfect choice for those who enjoy a buzzy atmosphere within commutable distance of the capital, without the London property price tags.
Looking for more affordable places to buy?
Discover the most affordable places to buy in South West England
Explore the most affordable coastal towns to buy
And the most affordable towns and cities across the UK to buy