In October of 2020, a survey by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) revealed that the coronavirus pandemic has lead to 55% of 18-34 year old Londoners finding themselves likely to move to the countryside.
So, what is it that entices so many young people to move away from the big cities and relocate rurally? Well, country living comes with a number of changes that can have a huge positive impact on a person’s quality of life.
House prices will always have a huge impact on anyone’s moving destination, in fact 59% of the people surveyed by CLA included cheaper house prices as one of their top 3 reasons for wanting to move to the country. House prices in London are often among the most expensive in the country, so buying in the countryside will most likely a lot more affordable.
However, it's important to be aware that this trend does not apply to all populous cities. According to our own research based on ONS classifications, the average house price in a urban area in the UK (as of May 2021) is £289,586 and in a rural area is £304,497. Obviously, this looks at the country as a whole and you must also remember that house prices in the North of England and Scotland are generally cheaper than in the South.
Essentially the benefit of cheaper housing in the countryside will depend on where you are moving from and to as house prices are ever changing. But you can use the Land Registry's House Price Index to compare average house prices across the UK and investigate what the benefit would be to you.
Of course, house prices can also vary wildly from place to place, and even from street to street. You should therefore always investigate the area you decide you want to move to, to find the best house prices available there for the kind of property you want.
An obvious difference between city and country living is the change in your environment. As well as looking very different, the country environment comes with a difference in air quality.
According to UK Air, pollutants in the city coming from vehicles, buildings etc get trapped between buildings and the tight spaces between structures, causing the air quality to be poor. The countryside, however, is made up of wider open spaces which allows air to circulate better, cutting down on the number of pollutants likely to be hanging around. Fewer pollutants mean your breathing should be easier and your lungs may be healthier.
The more remote your new home is, the cleaner the air will be as you’ll be further away from vehicles, factories and chimneys that produce smog. But even living in a rural town will mean that there is not far to travel to escape to some open space and feel the health benefits.
The access to open space can also allow for more possibilities in terms of physical exercise and activities. While sport and exercise is of course available in the city, certain activities like fishing, hiking or horse riding are a lot more easily accessible in the countryside.
Having more variety when it comes to outdoor physical activities means you are more likely to find something you enjoy and can use to improve your health. The variety also means that outdoor exercise is unlikely to get as boring or repetitive. And again, doing this exercise in a space with cleaner air will not only improve the benefits, but could allow you to increase your lung capacity and feel less short of breath.
As well cleaner air and access to exercise having a positive affect on your physical health, your mental health can also get a serious boon from living in the country. Closeness to nature has been documented by many mental health charities as a helpful way to combat feeling of stress and anxiety, and to practice mindfulness.
According to Mental Health Foundation, as well as the physical benefits of being outside having an impact on our mental health, being connected with nature sensually can leave us feeling calmer and happier, as we connect with the world we are meant to be a part of. This can be anything from listening to birdsong or a babbling brook, to getting your hands dirty in the garden, to simply looking out the window at a natural vista. Involving one or more of your sense in the experience of nature can be valuable for anyone whose mental health struggles in city spaces.
One of the biggest changes to life that has been brought about during the coronavirus pandemic is a change in the way we work. Working from home became the only option for most businesses in 2020, and many are considering allowing their employees to work from home even after restrictions are lifted.
The normalisation of working from home makes it easier for people to move to a location they like without worrying about being too far away from their work place. This means rural living is now more accessible for those with typically city-based careers.
A key difference between the city and the country is the people, or rather, the lack of them. Cities like London are very densely populated so wherever you go there will always be people around. If you are someone that experiences a lot of anxiety around large crowds of people, or you enjoy your own space and privacy, a rural area when the population is spread out will certainly be a benefit to your mood and quality of life.
Of course, many rural area do have active communities, with parishes, schools and other such community groups that are very important to them. It is important when you move to these areas that you try and engage in the communities and adapt to the way of life. You will likely find that people have different attitudes towards life in the country that can help you gain a new perspective, and even improve or change your own way of living. Don't be the Londoner who leaves London, but never changes their mindset - you're moving for a reason!
Moving to any new location is going to be a big decision that you need to be sure it right for you. If your mental and physical health is struggling due to city living, or you’re unable to get on the property ladder, relocating to the country might be a choice worth considering.