The desire for rural living has increased since the first coronavirus lockdown last spring – and that’s opened the door for many buyers to start exploring the glorious South of England. Rightmove estimated that more than 50% of buyers in London were looking outside of the capital for their next property purchase.
And as the region has such superb links to London and other big cities, many of those buyers will have started their property search in the South and South West.
Where are the best places to buy in the South of England?
The South of England is famed for its stunning outdoor space, from sprawling green fields to award-winning beaches.
It’s a vast area, though, so it can be difficult to know where to begin – whether you’re searching for your next home or looking for a solid investment.
Here, we’ll explore some of the best places to buy and invest in property across the South and South West…
Which counties are in the South of England?
Exactly what constitutes the ‘South’ is up for debate.
However, it’s widely considered that the South of England is the area below the West and East Midlands, with the ‘South’ split into the South East and the South West.
The counties in the South of England include:
And it’s these counties we’ll be focusing on when it comes to great places you can buy or invest in the South.
Buying in Berkshire
Berkshire is what you might call a great mixture of rural bliss and urban convenience.
In fact, when it comes to commuting needs, Berkshire is an ideal place to buy – with no part of the county more than 8.5 miles from the M4 motorway and great rail links to destinations across the UK.
Property for sale in Berkshire
A great place to start your property search in the Berkshire county town of Reading.
Reading offers buyers great Victorian and Edwardian properties, as well as a raft of newer developments and trendy town centre living.
Further out, the suburbs of Tilehurst, Woodley, Earley, Burghfield Common, Spencers Wood and Theale are popular with families thanks to their great properties, superb schools and reliable transport links into Reading and further afield.
Where to invest in Berkshire
Reading is a great place to invest if you’re looking for a buy-to-let property.
The town’s high level of employment, thanks to companies like Microsoft, Huawei, Prudential and Sage, plus its university, which is home to more than 15,000 students, makes it a great place for landlords.
Property prices in Berkshire have performed superbly, too, despite the economic uncertainty of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Rightmove, the average price of a property in Berkshire is £455,061 – 6% higher than in 2019 and 7% up on the level of 2018.
Buying in Gloucestershire
With England’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on its doorstep in the form of the Cotswolds, it’s no surprise that Gloucestershire continues to wow buyers and investors.
It’s well connected to some of England’s best cities, too, with Bristol, Worcester, Cheltenham and Gloucester itself all easily accessible from anywhere in the county.
Property in Gloucestershire
When it comes to period homes, there are few better places to search than Gloucestershire.
Cheltenham, in particular, is home to some of the UK’s best Georgian and Regency homes, while Gloucester boasts some stunning Victorian properties.
To the south of the county, Stroud is a quintessential English market town offering stunning properties made from traditional Cotswold stone, as well as some former textile mill conversions with riverside views.
Where to invest in Gloucestershire
Buy-to-let investment in Gloucestershire is strong in cities like Cheltenham and Gloucester thanks to their universities and employment opportunities.
Stroud, meanwhile, offers buyers solid investments for the future, with Cotswold stone properties, in particular, remaining in high demand.
Prices in Stroud currently sit at £301,586 on average, with price increases of 8% and 7% in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Buying in Oxfordshire
Bordering the Cotswolds to the west and the Chiltern Hills to the east, Oxfordshire is a great option if you’re looking for rural tranquillity.
The county also offers city-dwellers plenty of choice, too, thanks to Oxford and all the history and culture that comes with the prestigious university city.
Property in Oxfordshire
Witney also offers some great Cotswold stone properties, while Chinnor has a good stock of bungalows and new-build homes.
Where to invest in Oxfordshire
Oxford itself is popular with landlords thanks to the city’s student population, with areas like Jericho and Cowley offering great opportunities for buy-to-let investment.
Properties further afield in areas like Witney and Chinnor, meanwhile, provide good long-term investment opportunities for buyers seeking a slower pace of life.
Buying in Hampshire
As well as the big coastal cities of Southampton and Portsmouth, Hampshire offers buyers some great rural home options.
The county is well connected to London, too, particularly in the north where it borders Berkshire and Surrey.
Property for sale in Hampshire
While many buyers are drawn to Hampshire’s two National Parks – the New Forest and the South Downs – in the south of the county, property for sale in the north of Hampshire can provide great value and connectivity, as well as the same rural bliss offered in the south.
Tadley is just 12 miles from Reading and 90 minutes from London – but it’s location on the edge of the stunning North Wessex Downs means it’s a town that offers buyers a taste of rural Hampshire, too.
Where to invest in Hampshire
Southampton and Portsmouth offer student landlords superb investment opportunities thanks to their large university student contingents, while towns like Tadley provide buyers with real value and long-term capital growth potential.
The average price of a property in Tadley is £307,716 – well below Hampshire’s overall average price of £365,347.
Buying in Wiltshire
Wiltshire is known for its mysterious history, thanks to the legendary Stonehenge monument just outside of Salisbury.
The county is something of a rural haven for buyers, too, sitting on the edge of the Cotswolds to the north and with the North Wessex Downs and Cranborne Chase Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty jutting inside its border to the east and south.
Property for sale in Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a great option for buyers looking for a mix of rural and urban life.
As well as the rolling hills of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that fall within its boundaries, Wiltshire is also close to the bustling cities of Bristol and Bath, as well as its own cathedral city of Salisbury.
Property in the county includes great period homes and more modern developments in towns like Swindon, which is ideally connected to both London and Cardiff via the M4 motorway.
Investment opportunities in Wiltshire
Swindon offers investors great opportunities, with students flocking to the town thanks to the new Oxford Brookes university campus and employment boosted thanks to the likes of Nationwide basing its operation in Swindon.
Away from student rentals, Swindon’s location between London and Cardiff and one-hour rail links to the capital make it a popular place for young professional renters.
There’s value to be found, too, with the average price of a property in Swindon below the UK national average at £243,717, according to Rightmove.
Property auctions in the South East and South West
Auction can be a great way to buy property and with the stamp duty deadline of June 30 now set in stone, it’s also a superb way to ensure you complete in time to make the savings on offer.
Buying a property at auction in the South means you could complete in as little as 28 days.
Find out everything you need to know about buying at auction in the South East and South West here.