Escape to the Country
Is it finally time to move out of the City?
The pandemic has brought life into sharp focus for all of us, and one of the most obvious things it has got us thinking about, is our living spaces; where they are, and why there are in that specific location that they are in. It is changed the way we use our homes and the amount of time we spend in them. In time, I think it will eventually change the way they are laid out.
Even before the pandemic, it was clear that your living arrangement had a very strong effect on how you approach the rest of your life.
Changing the way we view our home and work / life balance
One aspect of the pandemic, is that it will be seen as one of the most comprehensive and fastest moving shifts in human behaviour, that has ever been witnessed. At one point nearly 50% of the population was spending more than 18 hours a day in their homes, these people are usually going to work, commuting and shopping. That is way more than what was seen as “normal”.
Those we spent the most time with (our colleagues) are now the people we spend the least time with, and the people we spent the least time with (our children and our families in general), are the ones we spend most with. Having spent so much time at home, the way we view them has drastically changed, and the amount of time we are willing to spend outside of them has changed too.
What are the main reason people want to move to the country?
According to the Rightmove study done last summer, based on their rental searches, there are 5 main factors contributing to the migration of people from urban areas, or rather there are 5 things people are looking for:
5 main factors for people wanting to move
- Private outside space or access to one
- More living space
- Whether or not a property is pet friendly
- Proximity to parks/ green spaces/ nature trails
- Access to parking/ a garage
Given that this is the case, people are beginning to think about value. Not the value of the house per se, though it obviously translates into cost later, the value of time spent in the house, against that of spending it in green spaces or outside. These things are obtainable in Urban areas, but obviously at a premium. Though not specifically mentioned in the study, the value (not the cost) of a property is something people are waking up to and they are speaking with their feet.
What are people looking for in their ideal homes?
What people really want is a private outside space. In urban areas this comes at such a premium, that leaving the city is the only real option. The alternative would be to drastically increase the cost of your accommodation. If it were that easy, we would have all moved to Richmond a long time ago and would have a Parkview townhouse, with a couple of extra bedrooms to boot.
Living arrangements and their cost against their actual value has been questioned too, with people realising how much more they can get by travelling as little as 10 miles outside of an urban area. Obtaining this value is not easy though, hence the migration of people from mainly densely populated, expensive per square meter, polluted cities.
The Working from Home Revolution
When the Rightmove data came out, there was talk of a mass exodus to the country. This was brought on by the WFH revolution, and the fact that people wanted to be able to enjoy more space, instead of the cramped accommodation people tend to live in, within a city. Some say they are happy to pay for the smaller conditions in such circumstances, because of the usual pay offs like proximity to amenities, bars and restaurants and generally the hustle and bustle.
There has always been a wealth of reasons to live in the city, but when a lockdown occurs most of those reasons disappear. Cities have always been more dangerous than rural areas, with around 16 violent crimes per 1000 in the country and as many as 34 per 1000 depending on which metropolitan area you are observing. During the pandemic and according to a report published by LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), although almost all crime fell during the first and second lockdowns, as expected, it has risen again as we have begun to open up the most vulnerable areas; those which had high crimes before the pandemic, had the highest crime rates in September, than their average for that month.
Prices & Populations
As a result, the population of London has gone down for the first time in over 100 years. Liverpool has seen an increase in people enquiring about town and village properties by 275%, Edinburgh 205% and Birmingham 186%. The Working from home revolution has certainly allowed a lot more flexibility for some, but with most having to report to the office once a week or more, the ability to move too far away is not that realistic for most.
In terms of proximity to urban areas, the average distance people are prepared to move away from the city has been raised dramatically; the average distance a for a Londoner is now 40 miles, which is up from 28. Whilst significant numbers of people have looked to make the move from urban areas to rural ones, it doesn’t seem to be enough to start bringing London prices with them; the main reason for this is that when you actually look at it, there are very few people who are able to work from home completely, meaning that a move to the country would also necessitate finding a new job, which is not always practical and for most, unrealistic.
Rural areas crying out for clinicians
However, if you are a healthcare professional, particularly one in Primary Care, you are in luck. Rural areas, which incidentally make up almost 20% the population of the UK, have been crying out for practice staff and looking at some of the rural health-boards, there is a need for specialists in secondary, tertiary and in even quaternary care, like in NHS Highland and NHS Tayside
With that in mind, the next time you think about how burnt out you are or how you wish you consider your escape to the country, remember that there has likely never been a better time to consider picking up sticks and doing the work you already do, without having to see 40 patients in a day.
Rural areas have less cases of covid to contend with, meaning you are not putting yourself or those you care about at as much risk. Your commute will be either shorter or certainly faster. Imagine being able to afford a bigger house, with a more private garden, cleaner air and in the case a Castle in Argyll & Bute (in Rural Scotland), a 10 bedroom house with 21 acres for £650,000. Of course a 2-bedroom house in Kentish Town will do the trick, but will it ever feel the same? Being totally honest, having seen this palace, it is maybe a little far away and what you might call a fixer upper, but it really does highlight my point about value and what we are happy paying for whilst living in cities.
Some of the activities we were doing outside, we have swapped for the equivalent at home, like eating out. People have clearly cooked more (and indeed) better meals at home, more often than ever before. Before the pandemic, British people would rely on as much as 40% of their food to come from takeaways or restaurants, so although we spent less on eating out, because we were able to control our portion sizes, the average calorie intake went up as much as 15%.
An interesting one is the commute. Because there has been, for a large part of the workforce, no commute, this is time that has simply been returned to you without anything being expected in return – which almost never happens – and certainly not on this scale, in terms of millions of people being handed back between 10 and 15 hours a week.
Rural areas despite making up almost 20% of the UK are consistently under-served, and always looking for well-trained clinical staff, that that want to stay in the area, instead of having locums come and go. With the pandemic pressure being most acutely felt on GPs, and the work being undertaken in densely populated urban areas, with large patient caseloads, means it is perhaps time to consider moving somewhere less likely to put you and your family at risk of infection, bring your workload down and the cost of your accommodation down, in one clean sweep?
Mass exodus to country?
It looked at first like there might be a mass exodus to country, this was brought on by the WFH revolution and the fact that people wanted to be able to enjoy more space instead of the cramped accommodation people tend to live in within a city. There has always been a wealth of reasons to live in the city, but when a lockdown occurs most of those reasons disappear. As a result, the population of London has gone down for the first time in over 100 years.
Liverpool has seen an increase people enquiring about town and village properties by 275%, Edinburgh 205% and Birmingham 186%. The Working from home revolution has certainly allowed a lot more flexibility for some, but with most having to report to the office once a week or more the ability to move too far away is limited. The average distance someone has moved away from the city has been raised dramatically. The average distance a Londoner is now moving away, is 40 miles which is up from 28.
Living arrangements, and their cost against the actual value has been questioned too, with people realising how much more they can get by travelling as little as 10 miles outside of an urban area.
Moving to rural areas
If there IS work for you in rural areas, then there is nothing stopping you as is the case with GPs and some other clinical staff. Rural areas, despite making up almost 20% of the UK, are consistently underserved. They are always looking for well trained clinical staff that want to stay in the area instead of having locums come and go.
With the pandemic pressure being most acutely felt on GPs, that work in densely populated urban areas with large patient caseloads means that perhaps it’s time to consider moving somewhere less likely to put you and your family at risk of infection, bring your workload down and the cost of your accommodation down in one clean sweep?
Looking for roles in a more rural area?
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