Revealed: The most popular counties to search for a cottage to buy

New research has revealed that Cornwall is the most desirable county for those looking to buy a cottage this year.

Its stunning coastal destinations and Arthurian legends have drawn in holidaymakers for years, and now it seems thousands of people each month are exploring the idea of making a more permanent decision to purchase a home there.

So, which other counties made the list as the most desirable places for buyers looking to purchase a cottage?

Top 10 Counties to search for cottages for sale

Housing and mortgage experts GlobalHousePrices.com analysed search volume data to see which counties receive the most searches on average per month when the term “cottages for sale” is Googled. The most popular region overall is the South West as four counties claim places in the top ten, and Cornwall claims the top spot.

Below are the top 10 most popular counties and how much the average house price is in each one to give you an idea of how much you’ll need in order to consider buying a property:

RankRegionAverage House Price (Detached House)
1Cornwall£387,397
2Devon£427,286
3Dorset£458,187
4Norfolk£349,835
5Suffolk£400,384
6Northumberland£288,158
7Essex£515,642
8Somerset£401,779
9Kent£536,471
10Shropshire£349,277

Discover why the top five counties are so popular

So what’s driving the desire to buy a cottage in these counties? We find out why the top five are so popular.

1) Cornwall

Well known for its Cornish Pasties, sprawling coastlines and fishing villages, Cornwall has been a favourite holiday destination since the introduction of the London to Penzance railway line in the 1860s. Now, every year around 5 million tourists make a trip down to the southwestern tip of England for a holiday each year.

The beautiful scenery and quaint towns have also charmed plenty of homebuyers as it has become the favourite county for those looking to purchase a cottage this year. The housing market is, however, competitive as so many people look to set up a home there.

Furthermore, due to its idyllic lifestyle, Cornwall is one of the most popular places to buy a second home. So much so that one in 21 homes is a second home which is almost five times the national average. Still, this hasn’t deterred people from wanting to explore their property options in this well-loved county.

2) Devon

Cornwall’s neighbouring county Devon takes second place on our list. Home to two National Parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor, and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with close proximity to more built-up towns and cities, the county is popular with countryside lovers and city dwellers alike.

There is something for everyone, whether you want to take a gentle hike or spend some time exploring the local shops. It’s not surprising that with so much on offer, homebuyers are looking for properties to purchase.

This has, however, meant that property prices have again been driven up due to high demand. For those looking to buy in Devon, the most expensive areas are Salcombe, Chagford and Budleigh Salterton.

Property prices in Salcombe, in particular, have increased by 3% since last year, making the average house price £836,221. For most buyers, this is out of the question, but luckily there are more affordable places to look into. In Plymouth, the average house price is £233,111, a less heavy price tag for those still desiring the coastal views.

3) Dorset

Another southwestern county, Dorset, claims third place on our list. Its natural beauty has captivated visitors for decades and made it a prime spot for homebuyers. Dorset, in particular, is popular with the older generations looking to retire — out of the 380,000 residents in the Dorset Council area, 30% are over the age of 65. This is considerably higher than the average in England and Wales, which is 19%.

So, what makes Dorset so unique? The county is rich with landmarks and peaceful views, interspersed with local restaurants, perfect for taking a long walk and then a well-deserved rest to try some local delicacies. Why not take a trip along the world-famous Jurassic Coast, or see Dorset’s giant in Cerne Abbas? Whatever you enjoy, there is something for everyone.

4) Norfolk

Moving East, we have Norfolk as the fourth most popular county to search for cottages for sale in. Many people flock to The Broads to navigate the extensive waterways each year, whether for a yearly holiday or a local day trip. Additionally, there are plenty of beaches to explore as Norfolk has 90 miles of coastline with beaches close to resorts and nature reserves.

Norfolk also has plenty of local cuisine staples for the foodies out there. In fact, Colman’s mustard, Kettle chips, and the Cromer Crab all helped put the county on the map. So, why not take some time out of a busy day exploring to experience some of the many treats Norfolk offers?

5) Suffolk

Rounding out the top five is Suffolk. The eastern county borders Norfolk and has plenty of beaches and local delicacies to enjoy. Not to be outdone by its neighbours, Suffolk also has a history of archaeological finds and treasures, earning it the name of the ‘curious county’. One of Britain’s most impressive finds, the remains of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial, is located in Sutton Hoo.

Combing these landmarks with the medieval towns situated in the sprawling countryside and the vast number of pubs, shops, bars and restaurants, Suffolk has plenty to offer locals and visitors all year round. You could even visit the country’s smallest pub, The Nutshell, for a refreshing pint of beer.

Why are house prices on the rise?

Regardless of how desirable each county is, the housing market as a whole boomed last year as a result of the reduction in stamp duty. Properties under £500,000 were exempt from stamp duty if the sale was completed by 30 June 2021. This resulted in buyers rushing to purchase new properties to make the most of the Government incentive, driving demand for properties higher than usual.

Despite the reduction in stamp duty ending, it appears that the property market is still experiencing a high. House prices have increased by 9.6% from January 2021 to 2022, meaning the average house price in the UK is currently £274,000. In the most popular regions in the UK, the price tag is even higher due to extreme demand from prospective buyers.