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UK home movers don’t move as far as economy improves

  1. 19 November 2015
  2. By Rob Houghton

We often get asked: "how far do people move, on average?"

Over the past few years the average distance moved has reduced.  Our view is that during the recession and as the economy was recovering people were prepared to move much greater distances to find a job, or to move to a part of the country where the cost of living is lower.  As the economy has improved people have not needed to do this so much, so a higher proportion of moves are local.  The year in which average distance moved was highest, 2008, was also the height of the last recession.

Regional variations in distance moved

The mean distance moved for the UK as a whole is 52 miles, but varies by region.  Unsurprisingly people in the smaller city centre postcodes tend to move shorter distances than those who live in more rural areas.

Anorak alert: Please don’t read the rest of this blog unless you’re interested in maths or the definitions of average.

What’s the average distance people move?

We often get asked this.  The answer depends on what definition of average you use.  There are three types:

  • Mean.  This is what most people think of when you say average.  It is the sum of the distance everyone moves, divided by the total number of movers.
  • Median.  This is the middle distance moved: if every move was ranked from shortest to longest the median would be the mid-ranked move
  • Mode.  This is the most common move distance (based on all moves rounded up to the nearest mile)

As discussed above, the mean average distance moved is 52 miles, but varies by region

The median average distance moved is 9 miles.  Similarly, it varies by region, but not with quite the same order of regions as for mean distances.  This is due to a difference in the mix of move distances.  There is a higher proportion of very short distance moves (0 – 5 miles) in London than in the North West, for example.

The modal distance moved is the 0-1 miles range, everywhere in the UK. The distribution curve for move distances looks like this - the rate of decline varies by region, but the basic shape is the same everywhere.


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