The post-lockdown lure of village life has seen enquiries from Londoners keen to move out to the sticks increase by almost 150 per cent, a new study reveals today.
Research from property portal Rightmove found the number of would-be buyers currently living in the capital but now considering an escape to the country is up 144 per cent from June to July this year compared to the same period last year. And enquiries about homes in satellite towns are up by 79 per cent. The same pattern was found in major cities across the UK.
Lower prices in the hinterland of London may be one reason for this new-found enthusiasm to leave. But Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s property expert, believes that quality of life is key. ““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,” he said. “We saw a shift as early as April in more people living in cities enquiring about moving out of that city, and this trend has continued.
“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.”
Top of the wishlist: Iver, Buckinghamshire
The most popular village within striking distance of London is Iver, in Buckinghamshire, according to the research. The village has its share of multi million pound mansions, but three to four bedroom family homes are priced at £600,000 to £700,000.
Although Iver itself is not desperately quaint – the bulk of its housing stock is 1950s or newer – it has a useful high street and good schools, and is set in the beautiful Colne Valley. The commute to London takes less than half an hour, and when Crossrail eventually opens it will get a new direct link to the centre of London, the City and Canary Wharf.
Box office village: Denham
Four miles from Iver is another village option: Denham. Housebuilder Weston Homes said it is has been selling homes at the converted Denham Film Studios at the rate of five a week since the start of July as Londoners seek to get out of the capital and avoid paying stamp duty tax. Sales during that period total more than £20 million.
Prior to the conversion, the original studio was used to produce many iconic movies including, ironically, The Great Escape.
“Definitely there has been evidence of a shift from inner city life to village or town locations with green areas and countryside on the doorstep,” said Ben South of Chandlers Independent Property Specialists, which covers the whole of the Home Counties.
“As there is no longer a requirement for a daily commute and an increase in people working from home, prospective purchasers are trading the close proximity to work or station for accommodation to include studies, gardens and a more leafy and less urban environment.