Away from the competitive housing markets of our major cities, there's a real bargain to be had in the countryside. If you're thinking of packing up and purchasing your own rural property, have a look through our list of top country hotspots that we've picked for their stunning locations, local amenities and low prices.
It might not have the postcard-worthy good looks of neighbouring Bamburgh, but properties in Seahouses are less than half the price. It's also in the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with sweeping beaches that are perfect for family strolls on warm days. The nature reserve at Budle Bay and Bamburgh Castle are within easy reach, too. Grab fish and chips from one of the many great restaurants and watch the sun go down over the promenade. Coming in at only £201,744, average property prices in Seahouses are 21% lower than they were at the height of the housing bubble in 2008 – how's that for home value?
Its Regency architecture and colourful commercial buildings impressed the Royal Town Planning Institute enough to name Aberaeron 'the best place in Wales' last year. For buyers, it's all about the town's relaxed seaside lifestyle. The Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival is held here every July and there's also a carnival in August. If that's not enough, Aberaeron is famous for its honey ice cream. The overall average price of a property in Aberaeron is £212,981, and the area has seen a 6% value increase in the last year alone.
This small seaside town is home to one of Scotland's best state schools, Banchory Academy. Those who love the great outdoors will appreciate being so close to the Cairngorm mountain range, where you can hike, ski and climb. There's fine local seafood and beef in restaurants like the Cowshed Brasserie, where produce is locally sourced. Now is the time to buy in Banchory as prices are down 7% on last year, with the average house selling for £255,409. The town's inclusion on The Sunday Times 'Best Places to Live' list should see prices spiking again soon.
Barnard Castle, Co. Durham
Barnard Castle is a typical northern market town, nestled in the Durham dales. It was a favourite spot of the artist J.M.W. Turner and still has a fantastic arts scene today. The Witham Arts Centre is at the heart of the community, hosting events ranging from Shakespeare plays to stand-up comedy. Antique shops and independent boutiques line the high street, adding to the quaint atmosphere. One of the local pubs, the Middleton Inn, is famous for its fish and chips. The average property value in this areas comes in at £184,458. With prices in the town stable at the moment, it's a good time to invest.
This picturesque village in the South Hams is known for its friendly atmosphere and annual Wormcharming Festival. Hilly streets offer panoramic views of the surrounding farmland, while the charming church and primary school look like they've been taken straight out of an Enid Blyton novel. Local pub The George Inn champions local ales and has a beer garden for soaking up the Devon sunshine. Blackawton is a real property hotspot, with an average home price of £443,929 – an increase of 36% since last year, and set to rise further still.