Great flight to country and coast ‘runs out of steam’ claims Zoopla

Research by portal reveals the pandemic-inspired search for a more bucolic lifestyle is no longer driving home searching.


The migration of house buyers from cities to the country and seaside has slowed right down, new figures from Zoopla show.

People are now looking in urban areas in increasing numbers, encouraged by the more affordable prices and better transport links, the portal says.

The Covid pandemic saw people moving from urban areas in a ‘search for space’, with more flexible hybrid working and a big increase in retirement by older workers.

Many buyers relocated to rural and coastal areas across the UK, pushing up house prices in the South West, Wales, Kent and Norfolk.

Flight to rural

However, Zoopla says this flight to rural and coastal areas has run out of steam as demand and sales volumes have weakened in these areas.

Demand has been hit in rural and coastal towns in the south of England – East Kent (-0.5%), Torquay (+0.4%) and Portsmouth (+7%) – as well as the wider Lake District area (the Lancaster postal locations) (-5%) and Mid Wales (the Shrewsbury postal area) (-10%).

Whereas levels of demand, compared to the five-year average, are strongest in Bradford (61%), Swindon (57%), Coventry (47%), Crewe (47%), Southend (47%) and Milton Keynes (45%) – all areas that have good transport connections into much larger employment centres.

Continued employment growth, Zoopla says, will stimulate housing demand over 2023 in these affordable city regions.

Chris Druce, Senior Research Analyst, Knight Frank

Chris Druce, senior research analyst at Knight Frank, says: “After a frenetic period for the country market, city living has come back strongly as workers have returned to the office, and the lifting of pandemic restrictions have boosted the appeal of urban living.

“Knight Frank data shows that from Q3 2020 to Q3 2022 the number of exchanges in regional towns and cities increased 10%, while rural exchanges in the same period fell 9%.”

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