Being financially savvy isn’t just about making smart stock market investments. Where you live can play a huge part in your financial success, especially if you have children and school districts to consider. A London lifestyle will always need a ton more funding than one in a lower-cost-of-living area. That said, you still want a safe, pleasant place to call home. Here’s a little insight into the current cheapest places to live in the UK, and why you might want to consider them for yourself.

What goes into the cost of living?

Your cost of living isn’t just determined by the rent or mortgage you pay. While house prices are an important part of the cost of living equation, there are a lot of other average monthly living costs to consider. How much will groceries and taxes cost you for the area? Do you have to commute to work, and how much will that drain your bank account monthly? Typically, in areas where the cost of living is higher- like London- wages are higher, too, so it’s not always immediately transparent to assess, and you need to make sure you compare like-with-like. Would you be better off taking a higher-paid job in a city with a higher cost of living, or taking a smaller salary at a far smaller cost monthly?

Cost of living is a critical part of your financial journey, and should not be neglected. Your salary isn’t just a thing that comes into your bank account. It’s how you settle bills, and how you partake in food, entertainment, and living. Someone living in a more affordable area may have a very lovely lifestyle on a mediocre salary, whereas someone earning major figures struggles to make ends meet in an expensive city.

Small-town living isn’t for everyone, but it’s not a binary road- you don’t have to choose between the ‘big city’ urban life and absolute rural pastures. There’s plenty of room to find a home that allows you to leverage your wage for more, and live the financially free lifestyle you want.

Top 5 cheapest places to live in the UK

Of course, many cheap places are also less desirable. No one wants to move to a slum just to save some pence on rent each month! So let’s take a look at 5 cheap, safe cities in the UK that rank well for the cost of living as well as the quality of life. Cool places to live in Britain on a budget.

1)   Durham

If Durham has only ever been on your radar for only a tourist visit, it’s time to think again. It’s seen as a student city, surrounded by great Universities and Law Schools, so it has a vibrant, slightly artsy vibe with plenty of history and heritage to drink in. The cost of living is roughly half that of London, and the average house price is only 3.2 times the average local salary.

Nor is Durham too far off the beaten path. There’s easy road and rail access to hubs like York and Newcastle. It’s safe enough for you to head out walking with the dog, and could well have the vibe you’re looking for in your next hometown.

2)   Londonderry

Londonderry also offers an appealing price-to-earnings ratio on its housing, working out to about 4.7 times the average annual salary. Yet Derry is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland, surpassed only by Belfast (which also delivers a surprisingly pleasant cost of living). For many younger investors, Derry is the home of outdoor festivals, and the city has a cosmopolitan vibe that’s young and authentic.

3)   Cardiff

The Welsh capital offers average monthly living costs of about 60% of those you’ll find in London. Rental prices are roughly half that of the UK capital. Once a pinnacle of the industry, the town has shed this reputation and today brings restaurants, bars, and other attractions to the table. It’s seen as a great city for students, and many love the fact that it manages to carve itself its own distinct personality, whereas many of the other cheapest places to live in the UK do seem a little samey. If you’re still craving a ‘major city’ vibe, but want to pay less in house prices, Cardiff may be the right place for you. The high street also offers excellent shopping opportunities.

4)   Norwich

Norwich is a little sleepy next to some of the other towns we’ve mentioned on this cheapest places to live in the UK list, but it offers some spectacular scenery, dollops of history, and a charm of its own. There is a trade-off here, however, in that the town is not as well-positioned for commuters or those who want easy access to other cities. Both the road and rail infrastructure leaves a little to be desired. Of course, if you’re willing to trade a little travel for somewhere with great house prices and a slow pace of living, that will be a plus, not a minus!

5)   Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough came in as one of the cheapest places to live in the UK. While Yorkshire has a reputation for sleepiness, there are also university towns like Middlesbrough to provide a more interesting and vibrant quality of life. House prices here are particularly low compared to other areas of the country, too, providing a nice incentive if you’re looking to own rather than rent. York, Manchester, and Sheffield are all simple to access, and it’s well connected by road and rail. Salaries do fluctuate a lot here, so it’s worth looking at industry-specific guidelines, but there’s a high quality of life for low average monthly living costs of around £1000 for a single person in a flat.

Consider this while looking for the cheapest places to live

Of course, these 5 cheapest places to live in the UK are not the only cities you’ll find with a great balance between house prices, cost of living, and availability of work. As a general rule, you will find a lower cost of living the further north you go in the UK, with the southern and eastern cities, especially on the coast, offering the highest cost of living (plus, of course, London). Remember that putting your money to work for you isn’t merely a matter of investing, but also building a lifestyle where your cost of living can stay low while your quality of life stays high. Each of these cities delivers precisely that so you can save more money for the future and have more disposable income for the present at the same time.

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