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Renting remains more expensive than buying in 8 out of 10 British cities

15th June 2011

  • Average cost to rent now 9.7% higher than cost to own
  • Best to buy in Milton Keynes but renting rules in Poole
  • Even cheaper to buy in London, saving over £4,000 p.a.

Renting a home in Britain is currently 9.7% more expensive than owning on average. And it is cheaper to buy instead of rent in four in five of the 50 largest towns and cities across the country, according to the latest research from leading property website

The research looks at the current asking prices and rents of two-bedroom flats around the country and assumes interest-only mortgage payments of 5% p.a. to provide a comparison to the cost of renting.

The range of results by location provides some very interesting insight into where it is best to rent instead of buy and vice versa. Milton Keynes tops the list of places where renting is the far less attractive option with average rents exceeding the cost of servicing a mortgage by a staggering 43%, leaving renters there on average £2,964 per year worse off compared to owners. At the other end of the scale, it is currently much more cost effective to rent in Poole than buy with renting 27% cheaper and the average tenant better off by £3,240 per year by renting instead of buying.

Even in London, which has by far the highest property prices in the country and where the average 2 bedroom flat is going for £431,366, buying is still 16% more cost-effective than renting. With average rents at £2,137 per month in the capital versus an average cost of a 5% interest-only mortgage at £1,797 per month, renters pay an extra £4,080 annually compared to owners.

Nicholas Leeming, business development director of, commented: “The relative cost of renting as opposed to buying has increased over the past 12 months as rents have risen and house prices and interest rates have remained flat. Almost 750,000 would-be first-time buyers have reluctantly ended up as renters over the past 3 years as a result of being unable to get a mortgage. With current house prices and interest rates where they are and with rents on the rise, for those who can get a mortgage, there may never have been a better time to buy.”

Full list of the top 50 rent/buy locations


Location Avg. Asking Price* Avg. Monthly Rent* Rent vs Buy**
1 Poole £243,466 £744 -27%
2 Plymouth £157,134 £573 -12%
3 Stockport £145,502 £558 -8%
4 Oldham £122,716 £477 -7%
5 Bristol £188,893 £753 -4%
6 Huddersfield £123,538 £497 -4%
7 Bournemouth £183,225 £745 -2%
8 Lincoln £126,470 £519 -1%
9 Swansea £169,773 £702 -1%
10 Cardiff £157,610 £656 0%

Source: (May, 2011)

* based on 2 bedroom flats in May 2011

** % variance between average monthly rent and average monthly cost of 5% p.a. interest-only mortgage


Location Avg. Asking Price* Avg. Monthly Rent* Rent vs Buy**
1 Milton Keynes £ 137,800 £ 821 43%
2 Birmingham £127,127 £727 37%
3 Warrington £108,410 £582 29%
4 York £162,645 £877 29%
5 Northampton £109,167 £579 27%
6 Coventry £107,363 £570 27%
7 Bradford £96,281 £499 24%
8 Preston £107,052 £549 23%
9 Peterborough £109,456 £702 21%
10 Barnsley £431,366 £2,137 19%

Source: (May, 2011)

* based on 2 bedroom flats in May 2011

** % variance between average monthly rent and average monthly cost of 5% p.a. interest-only mortgage

- Ends -

For further information, please contact Tim Vooght at or on 020 3872 5615.

Notes to editors

Zoopla is the UK's most comprehensive property website, focused on empowering users with the resources they need to make better-informed property decisions. We help consumers both find their next home and research the market by combining hundreds of thousands of property listings with market data, local information and community tools.

At Zoopla we are fans of transparency and everything we do is aimed at making the market more efficient for both property consumers and advertisers alike. Zoopla has rapidly become the UK’s leading online destination for property consumers to search for homes and do their market research and the favoured online marketing partner for UK estate agents, letting agents and property developers.

Launched in 2008, Zoopla has since been one of the fastest growing websites in the UK, now attracting over 40 million visits per month and we are proud to have collected numerous awards and accolades along the way, including being named one of the Top 10 UK Tech Companies (Guardian) and one of the Top 10 Most Innovative UK Companies (Smarta).

Zoopla is part of Zoopla Limited which was founded in 2007.

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