08 Mar 21 by Lesley Anderson

The Impact of Covid-19 on Rural Relocation

It was predicted by many that 2020 – 2021 would see an exodus from cities across the UK to rural locations, but after 12 months of living through a pandemic, have we seen any signs of this Covid-19 led trend?

COVID-19 has impacted the way we live, work and spend time in our homes, and therefore influenced some clear changes in what people want from their homes and the environment which they live. Priorities have shifted as working from home becomes the norm and there is a desire for increased space. A growing number of homeowners are now looking for a semi rural/ rural relocation to provide a better quality of life and a larger residence to support working from home more frequently.

It is therefore no surprise that London has seen the greatest exodus in recent months. In the first six months of 2020, Londoners bought 6.9% of homes sold outside the capital, equating to 24,480 sales. In the second six months of 2020, this figure increased to 7.8% with twice as many sales, 49,470. In these final six months of 2020, Londoners bought £18.4bn worth of property outside the capital, which is more than in any full year between 2008 and 2013.

The South West has seen the impact of this exodus with a BBC article, published in November 2020, identifying that house prices in the South West have risen the fastest in the UK over any other region, on the previous year. House prices have risen to match the increasing demand from buyers moving from further afield. The ‘race for space’ is a trend we have noted within our secured lending valuation work in the last 6 months.  There has been a notable shift towards a desire for larger secluded properties, with more bedrooms and outside space. Properties within Bristol fringe villages for example, are seeing an increase in demand as purchasers look for rural idylls with the convenience of Bristol’s amenities within easy reach. There has also been an increase in developments in fringe villages, such as Frampton Cotterell and Coalpit Heath, with developers tapping into the shift in trends by producing larger properties with more bedrooms in these semi rural/ rural locations.

This shunning of metropolitan living if further shown in Zoopla’s search analysis which found ‘detached’, rural’ and ‘secluded’ were the fourth, fifth and sixth most common search terms and ‘open-plan living’ was sharply down in popularity as more people continue to work from home. The Land Registry data also shows that detached homes saw the biggest annual price rise in the UK year on year by 6.7%.

How House Prices Have Changed Year on Year 2019-2020









Source: Office for National Statistics, HM Land Registry

It is clear that Covid-19 has influenced a shift in priorities for many people in the UK, which has in turn increased the number of people moving out of cities to semi rural/rural locations. It will be interesting to see how the end of stamp duty, and changes in the pandemic situation will affect this Covid-19 led trend in the coming months and year.