Is it cheaper to rent or buy?

What are the average rent and mortgage costs in the UK? We’ve done the calculations to help you decide which is the more worthwhile investment.

When choosing your next home, there are several questions that you must ask yourself. Is it cheaper to continue renting? Would it be a more worthwhile investment to get a mortgage? The buying vs renting debate has never been as hot a topic. We’ve crunched the numbers to help you understand how much it would cost to rent or buy a house over the next 30 years, as well as an in-depth comparison of how much homeowners and renters in the UK are spending.

Quick overview

  • After 30 years, buying is cheaper than renting by a projected £128,566.
  • After 10 years, renting is cheaper than buying by a projected £20,536.
  • The average person pays £665 a month for their share of the mortgage payment.
  • This is currently higher than the average rent payment per person, which is £657.
  • The average rent in London is estimated to be £2,039 per month, more than double the rest of the country.

Renting vs buying: Costs over time

Over the long-term, it is cheaper to buy than rent, assuming the average house price of £285,000 with a 15% deposit and a 30-year mortgage with an interest rate of 5.63%, which is the average standard variable rate over the last 28 years.

Over the next 30 years, buying the average UK house at £285,000 with these conditions would cost £454,413. Assuming roughly a 2% growth rate in rent prices, in line with long-term inflation targets, renting over the same period would cost £582,979 on average. Renting is the better option in the short term, but after 10 to 15 years, buying is usually advantageous.

However, it is also worth noting that at the end of the 30-year period, buyers will become owners of an asset, whilst renters will most likely have funded the mortgage repayments of their landlords.

Verdict: Is it cheaper to rent or buy?

While buying a property requires a substantial upfront cost, it is typically cheaper than renting in the long term. This will vary depending on several factors, but renting usually becomes more expensive after 10-15 years.

Is a monthly mortgage payment cheaper than rent?

The average rent payment per person is surprisingly slightly cheaper than the average mortgage payment in June 2023, with a difference of £7.57 a month. Our 2023 survey found that people pay £664.84 on average a month for their share of the mortgage, whilst the average rent payment is £657.27 per person.

Rising interest rates mean that people are paying more in mortgage repayments than in previous years.

How has the average cost of rent changed?

The average cost of rent for a property in the UK has been rising steadily over the past decade, reaching an average of £1,213 per calendar month (PCM) in May 2023. The average cost of rent has increased by 40.3% since May 2015.

Date Average UK rental value
Jul-2014 £836.40
Aug-2014 £845.59
Sep-2014 £843.88
Oct-2014 £841.85
Nov-2014 £839.56
Dec-2014 £844.97
Jan-2015 £848.60
Feb-2015 £853.01
Mar-2015 £854.66
Apr-2015 £861.51
May-2015 £864.44
Jun-2015 £868.86
Jul-2015 £875.15
Aug-2015 £881.50
Sep-2015 £880.32
Oct-2015 £874.32
Nov-2015 £872.49
Dec-2015 £877.13
Jan-2016 £881.89
Feb-2016 £887.71
Mar-2016 £894.42
Apr-2016 £900.16
May-2016 £903.97
Jun-2016 £909.83
Jul-2016 £915.08
Aug-2016 £916.53
Sep-2016 £908.00
Oct-2016 £900.92
Nov-2016 £897.97
Dec-2016 £892.17
Jan-2017 £888.23
Feb-2017 £894.88
Mar-2017 £904.46
Apr-2017 £903.90
May-2017 £901.04
Jun-2017 £908.00
Jul-2017 £925.00
Aug-2017 £939.00
Sep-2017 £927.00
Oct-2017 £909.00
Nov-2017 £904.00
Dec-2017 £907.00
Jan-2018 £909.00
Feb-2018 £906.00
Mar-2018 £912.00
Apr-2018 £918.00
May-2018 £919.00
Jun-2018 £924.00
Jul-2018 £937.00
Aug-2018 £947.00
Sep-2018 £943.00
Oct-2018 £928.00
Nov-2018 £918.00
Dec-2018 £921.00
Jan-2019 £932.00
Feb-2019 £940.00
Mar-2019 £942.00
Apr-2019 £936.00
May-2019 £934.00
Jun-2019 £941.00
Jul-2019 £959.00
Aug-2019 £970.00
Sep-2019 £967.00
Oct-2019 £953.00
Nov-2019 £947.00
Dec-2019 £953.00
Jan-2020 £953.00
Feb-2020 £955.00
Mar-2020 £959.00
Apr-2020 £968.00
May-2020 £959.00
Jun-2020 £951.00
Jul-2020 £965.00
Aug-2020 £985.00
Sep-2020 £987.00
Oct-2020 £974.00
Nov-2020 £974.00
Dec-2020 £979.00
Jan-2021 £981.00
Feb-2021 £984.00
Mar-2021 £992.00
Apr-2021 £996.00
May-2021 £997.00
Jun-2021 £1,007.00
Jul-2021 £1,029.00
Aug-2021 £1,053.00
Sep-2021 £1,061.00
Oct-2021 £1,059.00
Nov-2021 £1,058.00
Dec-2021 £1,060.00
Jan-2022 £1,064.00
Feb-2022 £1,069.00
Mar-2022 £1,078.00
Apr-2022 £1,091.00
May-2022 £1,103.00
Jun-2022 £1,113.00
Jul-2022 £1,127.00
Aug-2022 £1,143.00
Sep-2022 £1,159.00
Oct-2022 £1,171.00
Nov-2022 £1,175.00
Dec-2022 £1,174.00
Jan-2023 £1,172.00
Feb-2023 £1,175.00
Mar-2023 £1,184.00
Apr-2023 £1,199.00
May-2023 £1,213.00

What is the average rent in London?

The UK average, excluding London, in May 2023 was £1,016 per month, showcasing the significant difference between the capital and the rest of the country. The average London rent price in May 2023 was £2,039 per month, more than double the rest of the country!

Renting vs buying: Regional differences

In 2023, the personal share of the mortgage payment is less than the average monthly rental payment per person in Greater London, the West Midlands, the East of England, the North West and Yorkshire. In all other regions, average monthly rental payments are cheaper than the average monthly mortgage payment.

However, the difference is usually small, with 9 out of 12 (75%) regions seeing a difference of less than £100 a month between rental and mortgage payments.

Region Average monthly mortgage payment Average monthly rental payment
Greater London £828.96 £894.16
South West £691.80 £689.81
Wales £738.00 £511.61
West Midlands £622.29 £770.70
East Midlands £697.56 £586.61
Scotland £591.04 £512.26
Northern Ireland £465.88 £383.83
North East £517.17 £475.50
Yorkshire and the Humber £459.26 £515.84
East of England £695.95 £701.78
North West £539.86 £560.70
South East £771.06 £738.47

Renting vs buying: Age differences

Our survey found that monthly mortgage payments are higher per person than monthly rental payments for those aged 18-44. Those aged 45 and over enjoy lower average monthly mortgage payments than rental payments.

This may be due to older generations buying properties at much lower prices several decades ago, whilst rent has been rising consistently. Rent prices are volatile and can change rapidly, whilst mortgage payments are relatively more stable, although they have been rising recently.

Those aged 18-24 may be paying a bit more on their mortgage payments than they would if they had rented. However, if rental prices keep increasing, they may be in a more favourable position over time.

Age group Average monthly mortgage payment Average monthly rental payment
18-24 £692.81 £555.15
25-34 £663.50 £643.29
35-44 £745.03 £735.80
45-54 £717.66 £765.88
55+ £519.87 £615.04

What are the advantages of renting?

  • Less responsibility. Broken shower? Not your problem. There’s your landlord to fix that.
  • Flexibility. Not sure where you want to settle? You can try out different areas and, in some cases, afford to live somewhere you couldn’t afford to buy. Rental contracts are typically 12 months long, so if you think you want to change location or your circumstances change, you can give your landlord notice and walk away.

What are the disadvantages of renting?

  • Rising rent prices. In the current climate, rents are climbing. Zoopla has said that the average UK tenant now spends 28.3% of their gross pay on rent.
  • Volatility. Rent can go up on the whim of your landlord.
  • Lack of future value. You’re paying your landlord’s mortgage rather than your own, which means you’re not building up a potential nest egg for the future.
  • Less freedom. You’ll also have to abide by your tenancy rules relating to things like owning pets or being able to decorate the property.

What are the advantages of buying?

  • Future value. Buying your own property is an investment in the future. Your mortgage payments will be contributing to something that is yours.
  • Asset. Further down the line, you could use the equity from your property to fund a larger house purchase or downsize to bolster your retirement fund.
  • Freedom. You’ll also be able to decorate and modify your house to your liking.
  • Stability. No landlord can turn around at short notice to ask you to leave. All in all, you have more control and more of a stake when it’s your own property.

What are the disadvantages of buying?

  • Risk. Taking out a mortgage is one of the biggest financial commitments you’ll ever make. If you don’t keep up with your mortgage payments, your home could be repossessed. This not only means you lose your place to live, but this could also affect your credit score and future borrowing potential.
  • Responsibility and extra costs. You’ll also be responsible for all the additional costs of owning a home. For example, you’ll need buildings cover and life insurance. That’s before any maintenance costs for your property.
  • Less flexibility. Finally, owning a home gives you less flexibility, as selling up and moving is more expensive.

Can you afford to buy?

Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions you can make. You need to consider the initial deposit and mortgage payments, as well as additional fees and expenditures:

  • Deposit. The most common deposit is around 15% of the purchase price.
  • Mortgage repayments. It is important to consider your ability to keep up with mortgage rates, especially with variable interest rates.
  • Stamp duty. Stamp duty is a required tax when buying a residential property. However, first-time buyers don’t pay stamp duty on the amount up to £425,000.
  • Other fees. There are legal fees that come with all the paperwork. House surveys and removal costs also add up to the bill.

The deposit, mortgage structure and all additional fees must be carefully considered before buying a home. Although becoming a property owner is desirable, you should balance the risk against the reward when deciding!

What other costs are involved in renting?

The cost of renting is relatively cheaper than buying a home, with the deposit being the biggest payment outside of rent.

Outside of monthly rental payments, tenants will have to pay a holding deposit and a security deposit. The holding deposit is usually a week’s worth of rent, which ensures your potential new home is secured, whilst estate agents check your references. Upon signing the tenancy agreement, a security deposit of not more than 5 weeks’ worth of rent is taken to protect the landlord against any damages and missing items.

Both of these deposits should eventually be paid back to the tenant. A holding deposit can be used as part of the security deposit once the tenant has passed reference checks. The security deposit is returned in full to the tenant at the end of the rental agreement. The cost of any damage caused by the tenant or any missing items will be deducted from the security deposit.

Do most people rent or buy?

Our survey found that, across all age groups, most people in the UK buy instead of renting, with over half of all Brits (52.1%) owning a home outright or with a mortgage. On the other hand, around 2 in 5 (22.1%) Brits are currently renting. A significant portion (17.3%) of Brits live in social housing, and 6.3% are estimated to live with their family.

Living arrangement Percentage
A home that I/we own with a mortgage 26.20%
A home that I/we own outright 25.90%
Private rental accommodation 22.10%
Social housing such as council house 17.30%
I/We live with my family 6.30%
Sheltered housing 1.20%
Other 1.10%

What is the average mortgage payment by property type?

The most expensive mortgage payments go towards funding a detached house, with a total average monthly mortgage payment of £2,041. Semi-detached properties are the next most expensive, with average monthly payments of £1,262, closely followed by terraced houses at £1,063 and flats at £1,028.

Type of property Average monthly rent payment
Detached £2,041
Semi-detached £1,262
Terraced £1,063
Flat £1,028

For all media enquiries, please contact

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

Methodology

  • Finder commissioned a nationally representative survey in June 2023 of adults aged 18+.
  • A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.
  • Homelet
  • GOV.UK

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