I lived in one of the UK’s most expensive cities where homes average £627,000

While house prices are slowly easing across the country, there are some areas of the UK where property values will always be extortionate.

One of those areas is the city of Winchester. Earlier this year, L&C Mortgages named the city in its “most expensive UK cities to buy a house” list.

The mortgage company looked at average house prices, utility bills and council tax costs and concluded that Winchester came in fourth on the list behind Chichester, St Albans and Westminster.

In 2021, when house prices were surging across the UK, Winchester was named the most expensive city in Britain to buy a home with house prices a whopping 14 times higher than average earnings in the area.

Having lived and worked in Winchester myself for three years, and having paid the extortionate monthly rental rates, I’ve come to understand the city’s appeal but also why it’s so difficult for locals to get on the property ladder.

READ MORE: UK town where house prices have rocketed by £100k but locals think it’s a ‘dump’

Winchester is not only home to a stunning cathedral but it has excellent homes, schools and amenities.

While it’s officially a city, it feels more like a large town with all the shops, restaurants, cafes and bars largely concentrated in one area.

Unlike other cities, living in Winchester’s city centre is fairly quiet apart from the sound of distant cars and the bars closing on a weekend.

It’s also surrounded by green spaces with the South Downs National Park just down the road as well as Winnall Moors Nature Reserve.

One of my favourite walks in Winchester begins at the Winchester City Mill. Just down the side of the Grade-II listed building is a pathway which leads to a picturesque walk across a portion of the South Downs.

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Winchester’s architecture is particularly impressive. As well as being home to a breathtaking cathedral which was founded in 1079, the city itself is filled with historical and architectural treats including the Hospital of St Cross, Wolvesey Castle and The Great Hall.

In the centre of the city is the Buttercross Monument which looks like it’s been ripped straight out of the pages of Harry Potter.

The 15th-century monument includes octagonal steps and a pillar carved with the faces of renowned figures.

The monument is truly iconic and isn’t located too far from The Great Hall which houses a 13th-century imitation of the legendary table Round Table.

Period townhouses with original features just a stone’s throw from the city centre are in high demand as well as pretty cottages in the popular Fulflood area.

Unsurprisingly, properties in Winchester do not come cheap. Homes had an overall average price of £627,888 over the last year, according to Rightmove.

The majority of sales in Winchester during the last year were terraced properties, selling for an average price of £604,129. Detached properties sold for an average of £998,396, with flats fetching £327,106. Overall, sold prices in Winchester over the last year were one percent down on the previous year and two percent up on the 2020 peak of £613,647.

Winchester is also a popular area with parents which is why you’ll often get stuck in school-run traffic if you don’t plan accordingly. Almost all the primary and secondary schools in Winchester have been awarded good or outstanding reports from Ofsted.

However, the area is mostly known for being home to some of the best private schools in the country including The Pilgrims’ School boys’ prep, St Swithun’s for girls and Winchester College.

The city is also served by three great universities – the University of Winchester, the University of Southampton and Solent University.

Winchester is particularly appealing to commuters who work in London and travel home every day. The city is just over an hour from London Waterloo and 15 minutes from Southampton.

And if you’re looking for a staycation not too far from home then Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, the New Forest and the Isle of Wight are all just a few hours away.

One of my highlights of the city is its autumn events. The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market is a real treat and is known for its bustling atmosphere, unusual gifts and beautiful location.

Cited as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, it’s easy to see why. The market is inspired by traditional German Christmas Markets with festive lighting and wooden chalets housing stalls.

There’s also the scent of hot mulled wine and freshly toasted chestnuts in the air as well as a chance to try your hand at ice skating.

The Winchester Round Table Bonfire & Fireworks is another event that’s not to be missed. Each year, residents and visitors walk through the city for the annual torch procession which ends at the spectacular fireworks display at North Walls Recreation Ground.

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