When you think of affordable housing what do you picture?

Is it a cramped one bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city or a quaint two bedroom cottage in the countryside?

Most people don’t associate affordable housing with the rural countryside but there is an increasing demand for such homes in the country. Latest house price figures in rural areas show that young families could be priced out of the market in as little as 6 years!

This is why the National Housing Federation have launched Rural Housing Week to help create awareness of the need for affordable homes in rural England.

Rural Housing Week will run from 6th to 12th July and encourages housing associations from across the country to highlight the importance of affordable rural housing in developing a strong rural economy.

So why are rural homes becoming less affordable for young families? We’ve highlighted the four main factors contributing to the affordability of homes in the country.

Four factors affecting affordability in rural England

  1. Rising Prices
  2. Increase in second homes
  3. Fuel poverty
  4. Ageing population

1. Rising Prices

House prices in the country are increasing at a rate which is pricing younger families out of the market. In 90% of rural areas the average house price is over eight times the average local income. The South West is the most unaffordable area in England with the South East coming a close second due to people wanting to move out of central London and commute.

2. Increase in second homes

More and more people are buying a second home in the country. According to the 2011 Census report over 1.5 million people had a second home across England and Wales therefore increasing demand and driving up prices.

3. Fuel poverty

One factor that isn’t always taken into account when looking at affordability of rural housing is the cost of running a home. Energy bills in the country are considerably higher than in urban areas due to poor insulation and alternative heating methods that are more expensive than traditional gas central heating.

4. Ageing population

More people are living longer especially in rural areas meaning there has been a significant shift in the number of homes owned by pensioners. Experts predict that by 2021, 1 in 3 rural homes will be owned by people over 65 years old.

All of these factors have led to a major increase in house prices meaning the next generation of home owners are unable to afford to live in the place where they grew up.

For more information on Rural Housing Week please visit www.housing.org.uk/ruralweek.

By Anna Cross