The green, green grass of home: Working families swap the city for country living

Rising house prices and flexible working inspiring people to move away from their place of work

UK, 21 April, 2022: Changing work habits brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and rising house prices have seen households turn their back on cities for nearby countryside locations.

New Experian analysis reveals a fundamental change in where families and homeowners are looking to base their lives. The average house price in the UK now stands at £275,000, and £521,146 in London.* This cost, coupled with many employees now working for home at least for part of the working week, has inspired people to relocate to find a healthier work life balance.

Many movers have left their regions’ main urban location for neighbouring towns and villages. The rural district of Harborough in the Midlands has seen an influx of movers from Leicester, while the market town of Selby in North Yorkshire – famous for its medieval abbey – has seen arrivals from nearby cities Leeds, Bradford, and York.

The picturesque town of Tewkesbury in the Cotswolds has become a desired location for those looking to leave Cheltenham and the trend is also happening north of the border, with East and Midlothian now home for those leaving the capital, Edinburgh.

Locations which have seen a substantial drop include the London boroughs of Camden and Brent, and Oxford and Cambridge – cities which are surrounded by iconic English countryside but are still accessible for commuters moving to those areas.

London saw the largest proportion of movers leave their region, with 12% leaving for locations in the south-east and 8% heading further afield into the East region.

The switch will not only have an impact on the movers seeking a greener and more balanced lifestyle, but the communities they are both moving to and from. Reliable transport links and cheaper housing can be seen to be driving demand, while businesses, organisations and planners need to be aware of the changes to meet the demands of these evolving demographics. 

The trend is also likely to accelerate changes already seen in British high streets over the last decade, with new retailers and services opening to cater to the needs of the new arrivals.

Colin Grieves, managing director of Experian Marketing Services, said: “The pandemic has caused people to examine their priorities, and many have decided to enjoy the benefits of lower cost housing and greener space while still being able to continue their careers. Flexible working means people no longer need to be tied to their office, with a longer occasional commute an acceptable compromise. 

“Only by understanding this profound change can local authorities, city and town planners and other organisations begin to think and plan differently. For example, ensuring there is sufficient transport services to meet demand is just one area which will require a new approach.

“For retailers and marketers, it’s crucial they take advantage of these new opportunities. The country’s high streets are evolving due to the surge in online shopping but with it brings the chance to reflect the consumer habits of these new groups which have swapped the city for the country. Planning the delivery infrastructure as demand increases is also no small task.”

Flexible working has enabled much of this change and has also benefited employers, providing wider access to talent than was previously possible when employees were constricted by their commute. 

This in turn has the potential to rebalance the economy away from some urban areas. The Government has prioritised its ‘levelling-up’ agenda and jobs that may have only been accessible in major cities can now be done remotely, helping to spread economic benefits across the country.

 

                                                                                                 ENDS

Analysis conducted by Experian based on home moves between February 2022 and September 2019. Figures show the net percentage increase or decrease of movers in and out of a specific area, not an increase of total population.

Top 10 areas to move to

Area

Region

Net % of Mover Population

Harborough

East Midlands

26%

Selby

Yorkshire and the Humber

26%

Tewksbury

South West

26%

East Lothian

Scotland

25%

Midlothian

Scotland

25%

Wealden

South East

24%

Tendring

East

24%

Tonbridge and Malling

South East

23%

South Norfolk

East

22%

 

Top 10 areas movers have left

Area

Region

Net % of Mover Population

Camden

London

-36%

Brent

London

-33%

Oxford

South East

-27%

Cambridge

East

-26%

Newham

London

-24%

Lambeth

London

-23%

Redbridge

London

-22%

Braintree

East

-21%

Reading

South East

-19%

Leicester

East Midlands

-17%

 

*ONS House Price Index, December 2021

Media contact:

Robert Goodman, PR Manager, Corporate & Business, UK&I, Experian

Tel: +44 7989 398 498 / Email: Robert.Goodman@Experian.com

 

About Experian

Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organisations to prevent identity fraud and crime.

We have 20,000 people operating across 44 countries and every day we’re investing in new technologies, talented people, and innovation to help all our clients maximise every opportunity. We are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Learn more at www.experianplc.com or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the Group.