How Covid Prompted The Great London Exodus

Why Are Londoners Migrating Away From The Capital?

The pandemic has caused Londoners to rethink their living situations. Where are they heading on their mass exodus from the capital?

Before Covid-19 hit the UK in early 2020, the London property market was enviable to the rest of the country. Accounting for 18.53% of the total value of all property within the UK, the overall market in the capital had surpassed the £8 trillion point. But fast forward to the first lockdown and in many respects it was game over for capital living as we knew it, prompting thousands of Londoners to up sticks and move out.

Why Are People Leaving London Behind?

The UK workforce has experienced the biggest ever shift to their working conditions, with many companies informing their staff that they will be switching to remote positions either on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. With property owners and tenants considering their individual living situations, the previous advantages of living within commuting distance from a central London workplace are now decidedly limited.

Entertainment venues, bars and restaurants have either been fully closed or operating in a reduced capacity to normal standards, which has somewhat taken the buzz out of the capital lifestyle. Additionally, decent garden space in London is very difficult to find, which may have never seemed too important until the start of the first lockdown.

London leavers were busy during 2020 and the momentum has yet to slow down. People exiting the capital bought 73,950 homes in other parts of the country, which were collectively worth £27.6billion. It’s worth noting that a similar trend also occurred from other major UK cities.

Where Are Londoners Going?

So where are Londoners moving to? The three main areas which have enjoyed the capital’s injection of property cash are Sevenoaks, Oxford and Windsor according to Hamptons estate agents. Conveyancing solicitors in Essex have also notified a marked increase in migration from London with buyers looking to take advantage of rural life at affordable prices.

Space is being prioritised over living within a commutable distance from an office which may no longer exist for employees. Therefore, the average distance moved by an ex-London buyer has increased to 40 miles from the capital. This is 10 miles further than the average London leaver was willing to relocate in figures taken from 2019.

However, there are some variations on distance based on the age of a buyer. For example, first time buyers were more likely to stay closer to the capital, where the lifestyle change wouldn’t be quite as pronounced. On the other hand, slightly older buyers with London homes to sell, have been more willing to move further and ditch the capital once and for all.

What are the predictions for 2021?

With a month of 2021 already gone, and the stamp duty holiday due to complete on the 31st March, what is the likelihood the London exodus will continue at pace this year?

Currently this migration from the capital is still continuing, but the numbers may start to dwindle in line with market activity as the year goes on. If the rest of the housing industry experiences a crash or simply slows down, then Londoners may decide to wait it out and see what happens next.

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