Escape to the country (or seaside, or suburbs)

With our eyes always on the property market, there’s a new trend that we’ve noticed emerging lately – and that’s a change in which spots buyers are looking to settle in. Over the past 6 months, there’s been a shift in perspective on what makes certain locations ‘desirable’ to live in, and others…maybe not so appealing. Now that remote working is a real possibility for some people, movers are migrating away from their bustling city apartments in favour of coastal towns and suburban homes.  

City living is less appealing when everything’s shut

Most of us who live in cities are there because of work and because we get access to lots of cool stuff: restaurants, theatre, bars, nightlife. We’re often willing to sacrifice space, live in shared houses or creaky converted flats, to be close to the action. But what happens when the action stops? What’s the point of city living when everything’s shut?

Since the pandemic has forced many folks to work from home, people living in cities have found themselves trying to squeeze workspaces into corners of bedrooms, or kitchen surfaces (standing desk?!), trying to make sure their drying washing is out of sight on the zoom call. Living in London during lockdown suddenly seemed ‘not the best idea’, trying not to fall out with partners or friends in cramped flats or houses.

Whilst those living in coastal and country areas are still free to enjoy their distanced walks and rural surroundings, the pandemic has left those of us in highly populated areas with very few spaces to explore safely and freely. Over the summer months, parks were packed (and often policed, or closed to deter people from hanging out). Plus now that we’re heading into colder, wetter weather, city residents are quickly realising that the higher cost of living may simply not be worth it. Particularly if they have limited access to the bustling restaurants, cafes and events that drew them there in the first place. 

Once a dream, now a possibility?

In our previous post which explored pandemic property-hunting, we noted that home buyers are re-evaluating what’s important to them. Unsurprisingly, having more outdoor space seems to be at the top of this list. Estate agents have confirmed that there’s been increased interest in well-connected countryside homes, ranging from English market towns to Scottish fishing villages. Pre-pandemic, many of us might have dreamed of living by the seaside but looked at the distance from work and written it off as just a pipedream. Since lockdown has vouched for our ability to get work done from home, this raises questions about whether it’s really necessary to venture into a city in the first place. Particularly when we bring commuter costs into the equation. With prices for a weekday return from Kent to London beginning at around £20, that brings the price of commuting into London to an average of £60 per week, even if you were only to travel in for three working days. 

So with more big companies looking at permanent remote working, or semi-permanent remote working, this opens up the possibility of swapping the city for rolling fields, a chocolate box village, or sea views.

This seems to be a popular dream, with more than half of London office workers considering moving out of the city. The survey revealed that primary post-Covid living priorities include peace and quiet, living by the sea and having cleaner air.  Andrew Perratt, the head of country residential at Savills, notes that many sellers who were waiting and wondering are now making the decision to prioritise their quality of life, take the plunge and move. Some of the most attractive areas of interest right now include Devon, Dorset, Berkshire, Brighton and Suffolk. With so much uncertainty, people are choosing to take action now, pick somewhere to live that they love, and figure out the rest from there!

Some inspiration for you

Have you been dreaming of an escape to the country (or the seaside, or the suburbs)? To give you some visual inspiration and help you kickstart your search, we decided to compare four very different two bedroom properties. Situated in the suburbs, the city, on the coast and in the country, they all have a lot to offer within very contrasting price ranges. Have a scroll through and see what you think!


A breath of fresh air

Denwick Court, Alnwick

This stunning Grade II listed apartment is selling at a guide price of only £155k. The property truly has the best of both worlds with its cobbled, cosy exterior and spacious, modern interior. Situated right in the heart of historic Alnwick, Northumberland, owners would have easy access to the town centre, Alnwick Castle and Gardens and to Alnmouth, Craster and Longhoughton beaches. The property itself benefits from lots of natural light, a four piece en-suite with a walk-in shower, and a flowery courtyard with parking. 


Sanctuary in the suburbs

Oswald Drive, Strood

This beautifully modern property is selling at £250k, which is almost half the price of a city property of roughly the same size – and we think that it might have a lot more to offer. The property benefits from a deluxe fitted kitchen, two double bedrooms, a generous open plan lounge and dining area, and a landscaped garden with artificial grass and a patio. It is also perfectly situated, being only a mile away from the local station and A2/M2 motorway links….and it’s also only a six minute drive from Diggerland! We’d argue that this might just be the perfect home for first time family buyers. 


Do like to be beside the seaside?

St. John’s Road, Eastbourne

Situated in the sunny seaside resort town of Eastbourne, this stunning coastal property is perfect for those with artistic tastes. Benefitting from its own private entry hall, period-style cast iron fireplace, and a newly fitted kitchen, once again we think it offers a lot at a selling price of just £285k. And with its stunning palatial windows with beautiful garden views, the property is bright, spacious and airy throughout. 


Staying in the city? 

Wellesley Road, Woolwich London 

This funky, two bedroom conversion apartment is immaculately presented and extremely spacious. The property spans just over 740 square feet. It consists of two large bedrooms (one with an en suite), a master bathroom, a dining area and modern fitted kitchen. On top of all of that, this apartment is within The Academy on Red Lion Lane, a prestigious conversion of the Royal Military Academy that is becoming popular with London buyers. At the relatively high buying price of £455k, this property offers a range of period features, and beautiful grounds that span over Woolwich Common. 


Here at Lifetise, we’re money managing experts who are here to guide you through every step of your home buying journey. We want to help you access and understand what home buying options are available to you, and where. Using our easy, and hugely popular Homefinder tool, we will not only help you calculate the maximum mortgage and house price that you afford, but also refine this information all the way down to the specific town or postcode you are interested in. Have a play around with it, and let us help you find out what you could buy in a range of different areas. 

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