Covid-19 sparks exodus of middle-class Londoners in search of the good life

Posted: June 25th 2020


I have lived almost all my life in rural settings so I ought not to like “townies” but articles like this, which potentially stoke up negative views of those moving to a rural milieu make me nervous. It is one interesting example of the divisive nature of the pandemic.

The 2-metre rule may be about to be diluted in England, but job-hunters and home buyers are seeking a more profound form of social distancing post-lockdown by restarting their lives in less densely populated areas.

A surge in the number of people looking for jobs outside London in the last two weeks has been mirrored by a spike in city dwellers looking for new homes in more isolated locations.

The number of jobseekers wanting to get out of the capital has more than doubled in the last fortnight compared with the same period in 2019, according to the Escape the City careers advisory service. Meanwhile, the proportion of London buyers registering with estate agencies outside of the capital almost doubled in April.

Buyers from Manchester and Birmingham also showed increasing interest in rural moves, according to figures analysed by Hamptons estate agency.

The destinations where London househunters have registered to search in increasing numbers since lockdown include the Sussex beach town of Worthing, Ipswich in Suffolk and Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, where populations are at least twice as spread out as in the capital.

The biggest increase was seen by estate agencies in Aylesbury Vale, in rural Buckinghamshire, where in April 2019, only 28% of people signing up for viewings were from London. Since Covid-19, that number has risen to 44%. Its rolling fields are around 30 times less populated than the London average.