Over the past year, house buyers’ priorities have changed. There are more people working from home than ever before, and as a result, there has been a seismic shift in where people are deciding to live.
After a lifetime of having to live within commuting distance of their workplace, many people across the UK are now home workers, with 35.9% of people doing at least some work at home in 2020, a rise of 9.4% from the year before. Inevitably, this has led to a decrease in the need to live within the boundaries of a reasonable commute, with many people now opting to live a lot further from their workplace. The demise of working in a city centre has allowed homeowners to make choices they’d never been able to in the past. Individuals are now able to choose whether they want to live in an urban or rural location and based on the rise of sales in rural properties, many have decided to plum for the latter.
But it’s not just home working that’s driving this exodus to the countryside. Buyers are keener than ever to live in houses with gardens or an outside space. When surveyed by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, 80% of estate agents said they expected a rise in demand for houses with a garden or balcony. Buyers are more likely to find such features cheaper outside of urban centres, giving them yet another reason to up sticks and leave for the country.
However, this shift in preference to rural living predates the pandemic. The price of rural property has risen on average by 20.8% in five years; this includes an increase of 6.22% from 2019 to 2020.
Despite the average price increase of rural property, it is still, on average, far cheaper to buy a house in the countryside than in a city. According to data from Hamptons, the average property price in the countryside in 2020 was £236,330, a massive 44% less than residential property in cities, which averaged £419,300. This, coupled with a perceived lower cost of living outside of urban areas, has contributed hugely to the interest in a rural move.
Wallasey in the Wirral is one of the UK’s towns whose housing market has benefitted from the reported rise in interest. Property website Right Move has named it the UK’s 2021 property hotspot with asking prices nearly £24,000 more than in 2020 with most Estate Agents reporting that properties were regularly selling for 10-20% above asking price.
Leigh in Greater Manchester and Penzance in Cornwall followed Wallasey on the property hot spot list, both benefit from a more rural surrounding. Rightmove also recently reported that Cornwall has replaced London as the most searched location on their website, further evidencing an increased preference toward rural living.
Whether the rural housing renaissance continues remains to be seen, but as of now, it shows no signs up stopping. One thing is for sure, the countryside has never been cooler!