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Is it cheaper to rent a home in the countryside?

The countryside was in hot demand in 2020-21, but cities are now the go-to rental destinations, meaning rural rents are becoming more affordable.

Words by: Izabella Lubowiecka

Senior Property Researcher

Summer is one of the busiest times of year in the rental market. 

And demand for new rentals this year is now even higher than the same time last year.  

Meanwhile, the supply of homes to rent is only slightly ahead of last year’s levels. 

That means the supply-demand gap for the rental market is continuing to put pressure on rents.

And as demand increases, so do the prices. 

Our rental index of new lets shows that the average UK rent increased by 0.9% over June - the highest monthly increase since October 2022.

The average UK rent has now reached £1,163, which is £110 higher than a year ago.

Rents in urban areas rise faster than rural areas

A new trend is emerging in the rental market: rural areas are becoming more affordable than cities when it comes to new lets.

Rural areas are built out of Census output areas defined as those with a population of less than 10,000. They can include isolated dwellings, hamlets, villages and small hub towns.

Urban areas are built out of Census output areas that tend to have a population of 10,000 or more and include cities, towns and suburbs.

In England, the average city rent in major cities reached £1,300 in June, while in the countryside it remained £220 lower at £1,080.

The lettings market in UK cities is prone to seasonal summer spikes in rental inflation as demand from students, graduates and relocating families grows over the summer. 

In recent months, some of the largest UK cities have experienced above national average inflation of more than 10%.

However, rural rents are now growing at a slower pace.

Over the last 12 months, rents in the English countryside increased by an average of 6.6% or £67 a year. 

This new trend marks a reversal of what happened during the pandemic years of 2020-21, when rural rental properties were in hot demand.

The reopening of cities in 2021 has seen renters returning to urban areas. And by June 2022, their regained popularity led rental inflation in cities to exceed that of their rural counterparts.

Rental affordability in cities has become increasingly challenging. 

Conversely, the average proportion of household earnings needed to rent in the countryside has stayed broadly the same over the last 12 months. 

Having said that, this won’t be a universal experience of all renters in rural locations. 

Some 2 out of 5 rural areas saw rental inflation rise above the national average wage growth (6.9%). 

And renters in some rural areas are now having to put a higher proportion of their income towards housing costs. 

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8 UK cities where rents are rising fastest

CityAverage rent% increaseannual increase pcm
Zoopla Rental Market Index

In June, we identified 8 major UK cities where the prices of new rents increased by at least 10% in one year. 

In Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Glasgow, Southampton and Cardiff, the cost of a new let rose by £80 pcm or more.

Top of the list was Edinburgh, where the average monthly rent for a new let in the city rose by £150 pcm, pushing the average rent close to £1,200 per month. 

Discover more about living in Edinburgh

Manchester and Glasgow were next, with rents increasing by £120 and £100 pcm respectively. 

Meanwhile, renters in Liverpool, Sheffield and Belfast saw the lowest rental growth among the largest UK cities. 

In these locations, average monthly rents increased by less than £60 in the last year.

Cheaper urban areas to rent

While most renters across the UK saw steep rental increases in the last 12 months, there are a few exceptions. 

When considering the UK’s largest urban areas, there are three towns where rental inflation was below 5%. 

Annual rental increases in Blackpool were the lowest among all UK cities and large towns, with average rents increasing by £20 on average. 

Blackpool is followed by Doncaster and Grimsby, both in Yorkshire and the Humber, where rent increases over the last 12 months were £30 and £20 respectively. 

All three areas are among the least expensive large towns to rent in the UK.


Average Rent (PCM)

Annual rental price change (%)

Annual rental price change (£)













Rents rise fastest in London and Scotland 

Scotland and London - the two largest rental markets in the UK - are experiencing the steepest growth.

In Scotland, rents increased by £80 per calendar month (or 13.1%) on average in the last 12 months. 

In the Scottish Borders area of Tweeddale, the monthly cost of a new let increased by 17.1% - or £80 pcm. 

In London, rents have risen £230 (or 12.7%) in the last year. That’s actually down from an annual rise of £273 (or 17.6%) in the 12 months leading up to June 2022. 

The fact that rental inflation is coming down in the capital now suggests affordability is stretched in London, with less headroom for rents to grow further. 

In reality, there is a lot of variation in how fast rents are going up in different London boroughs. 

For the fifth month in a row, rents in Newham are growing faster than anywhere else in the capital (16.5%), whereas the lowest rental inflation is currently being seen in Kensington and Chelsea (11.0%).

Slower rental growth in Northern Ireland and South West England

Our data shows the lowest rental inflation is happening in Northern Ireland (4.3%) and the South West (7.7%).

Northern Ireland is currently among the regions with the lowest earnings growth in the UK, which limits how much rents can increase. 

Meanwhile, demand for rentals in the South West has slowed down from the pandemic peak of 2021 and it has been lagging behind other UK regions since October 2022. 

This has eased the pressure on rental inflation in the region, particularly in the more rural areas.

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.