Coronavirus: Interest in country living surges


Rural house in Dorset

There has been a surge of interest in moving to the country due to city dwellers’ priorities changing during the coronavirus lockdown, estate agents have said.

People are looking for more outdoor space, and may have more flexibility to work from home, Rightmove said.

Across the UK, enquiries about buying a home in a village jumped by 126% in June and July compared to the same period last year, it said.

Frank Knight reported similar trends.

In some cities, such as Liverpool and Edinburgh, searches more than doubled, Rightmove said.

Miles Shipside of Rightmove said: “The lure of a new lifestyle, one that is quieter and has an abundance of beautiful countryside and more outdoor space, has led to more city dwellers choosing to become rural residents.

“The most popular village moves are still within the same region the home hunters are currently in, as it’s likely they’ll keep their current job but may have the flexibility to commute less often and set up their working space at home.”

Money not the motive

Rightmove said the number of inquiries from Liverpool residents looking for a village lifestyle has almost tripled (275%) compared with a year earlier, while there has been a 63% increase in inquiries about towns, Rightmove said.

In Edinburgh, village inquiries are up 205% and in Birmingham they have increased by 186%.

The website said some urban home owners may have benefited from strong house price growth over the years, making it possible to now trade up and out to the country.

But money does not appear to be the main motive for moving, as average asking prices in villages are often more expensive than in cities.

In many cases, the searches show house hunters are looking at villages within commuting distance to their current city, suggesting people are being drawn to the appeal of a quieter way of life.

Mark Rimell, director in Strutt & Parker’s country house department, said: “A slower pace of life, outdoor space and tight knit communities come hand in hand with village living – something many have come to appreciate in recent months and have enduring appeal.”

Working from home shift

Rightmove’s research was released as a separate survey from Barclays Mortgages found that the South West of England, with its rural and coastal communities, is a particularly desirable location for those currently in Birmingham, Nottingham, London, and Manchester.

Barclays Mortgages found popular reasons for people wanting to relocate include a bigger garden, being closer to essential services, living where they can exercise easily, being nearer to relatives, and a stronger local community.

Dr Peter Brooks, chief behavioural scientist at Barclays said: “More outside space and the benefits of being closer to friends and family are high on the ‘must have’ list for many movers.

“As working from home becomes more commonplace moving cross-country looks to be more achievable for many as there is less of a need to be within a short commute to the office.

Freddie Wright, partner, Knight Frank Bristol, said: “The city property market in Bristol is extremely busy at the moment – many of those selling are looking to move out into villages such as Banwell because people are looking for a slower pace of life post-lockdown, and these villages offer the best of both worlds.”


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