Home Front with Jenny Knight
Lower house prices and the desire for a less stressful life are just two of the reasons that Londoners are quitting the Capital for pastures new, writes Jenny Knight.
According to the most official figures, nearly 300,000 Londoners move out to a provincial city or to the countryside every year. It seems people leave London for nearly every part of England and Wales with popular escape routes being Brighton and Birmingham and Bristol.
Most people leaving London went to nearby areas in the home counties, with Essex, Surrey, Suffolk and Hampshire amongst the most popular. Figures from Barratt Homes showed that two years ago Dartford became hugely popular with nearly 5,000 Londoners moving out there.
The counties around London are attractive because people can often find a much bigger house than they could afford in London within commuting distance, so they don’t have to give up their jobs.
Another group take the full plunge, giving up their jobs and finding a totally new lifestyle. Some buy smallholdings, others find a property that comes with a business, like a rental cottage or bed and breakfast. Others decide to retrain for another career and live the good life, giving up expensive restaurants and theatre trips in exchange for breathing the good country air on walks with the children and the dogs.
A good number of leavers are thought to be people who graduated from university in the 1990s, moved to London and bought homes when they were cheaper and are now in their 40s with families and enough equity to offer some options decide to bring up the children somewhere where they can run free.
The bad news is that the exodus is leading to gentrification and rising housing prices in the most sought after country spots, meaning that house hunters may have to look harder and longer for their rural idyll.
Interestingly leavers tend to follow well established migration routes with people leaving east London heading east even as far as Norfolk and people leaving Kensington and Chelsea heading for Oxford while south Londoners moved south west, while Lambeth folk were likely to walk to Brighton.
A survey by Knight Frank found that people in their 30s are most likely to leave the capital. With popular destinations among the commuter belt with places like Elmbridge, Dartford, Reigate and Slough in the top ten.
There is also evidence that buy-to-let landlords are also leaving London. Recent data suggest fewer investors are buying investment properties in London and the south east. Poorer rental yields have them looking to cheaper parts of the country.