Go (South) West: City dwellers wish to relocate to the South West post lockdown

  • Residents of Birmingham, London and Leeds are the most unhappy with where they’ve been living during lockdown, followed by Norwich and Nottingham
  • The most sought-after location to move to is the South West, including stunning rural and coastal communities in counties such as Cornwall, Devon and Somerset
  • Brits long for green space on their doorstep as a result of lockdown, with a third (32 per cent) wanting to move to rural areas
  • Comparatively only 17 per cent of homeowners want to move to a city once restrictions are lifted 

Fresh research from Barclays Mortgages¹ has found residents of UK’s biggest cities are no longer happy with where they’re living, and as a result are considering a move post-lockdown to areas with more green space on their doorstep.

Close to a third of those in Birmingham (32 per cent) and London (30 per cent) feel the biggest urge to move.

Barclays Mortgages found that those living in major cities are looking to escape a feeling of being “locked in”, with many desperately seeking a garden, bigger garden or balcony in their next move. As such, properties with outdoor space are becoming increasingly desirable for property buyers, with almost two out of five (39 per cent) saying they’d like to move to a home that offered a large garden.

But it’s not just the longing for outdoor space that is pushing Brits to relocate, as some of the other reasons for a post lockdown move include; living nearer essential services (29 per cent), living in an area where they can exercise easily (24 per cent), being nearer relatives (23 per cent) and living somewhere with a stronger local community (23 per cent).

When it comes to the hotspots luring city dwellers away from urban sprawls, the South West, with its stunning rural and coastal communities, ticks off the “must haves” for many hailing from Birmingham, Nottingham, London, and Manchester.


Top ten cities homeowners wish to leave post lockdown Top location(s) residents wish to move to
1. Birmingham (32 per cent) South-West (24 per cent) or Wales (22 per cent)
2. London (30 per cent) South-West (20 per cent)
3. Leeds (28 per cent) Scotland and South-East (19 per cent each)
4. Norwich (27 per cent) Wales (20 per cent)
5. Nottingham (25 per cent) South-west (26 per cent)
6. Sheffield (21 per cent) East Midlands and North East (14 per cent each)
7. Liverpool (21 per cent) Scotland (25 per cent)
8. Manchester (20 per cent) North East, South West, Wales and Yorkshire and Humber (15 per cent each)
9. Glasgow (20 per cent) South East (18 per cent)
10. Newcastle (19 per cent) Scotland (47 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (33 per cent)

This desire to move reflects a craving to escape urban living and embrace the quieter side of life. Over a quarter of those polled (26 per cent) stated a preference to be close to the seaside, and similar amounts wished to live in more rural areas (23 per cent). This was echoed by those living in and around the M25, with two in five homeowners in the area admitting they’d like to move out for a better quality of life.

While the top five cities are most likely to see residents eyeing up a move, it’s by no means an isolated desire, as almost one-third of all Brits (32 per cent) admit they would like to move to the countryside post-lockdown. Just half that number (17 per cent) said a move to a city was in their future plans. The younger generation is leading those bucking the trend, with one-third (34 per cent) of under-25s dreaming of moving to a big city.

Dr Peter Brooks, Chief Behavioural Scientist at Barclays commented, "Spending the last few months in lockdown has been a massive life event felt by the whole nation. All this time at home has given many of us the opportunity to reflect on where we live and why we’ve chosen those areas, as well as time to consider what’s important to us and the things our current living situations lack.

“This research indicates an aspiration for a big move and complete lifestyle change. More outside space and the benefits of being closer to friends and family are high on the ‘must have’ list for many movers. As working from home becomes more commonplace moving cross-country looks to be more achievable for many as there is less of a need to be within a short commute to the office. If the findings of this research are reflected in the housing market, we could well see a trend for people to leave urban areas in favour of more rural locations.”