Recent data obtained from property websites suggests renters continue to seek properties outside of the city centre, preferring to live in less crowded, more spacious areas as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Property websites like Rightmove and Hamptons International have observed that renters continue to express interest in more spacious properties, often in quieter towns and villages, since they expect to spend more time working from home in the future.
Housing website Rightmove, which analysed over 60 million property searches, said that the demand for apartments in central hubs in London had fallen significantly. In contrast, areas in outer London and the suburbs had shown a corresponding increase.
Searches around some of London’s most popular spots decreased. For example, Earl’s Court, located in west London, registered 40% fewer searches this August as compared to the previous year. In New Cross, another well-connected commuter hub, searches were down by 20%.
The most popular hotspot for rentals in the UK was Chessington, a township in Kingston Upon Thames, located 16 miles outside of the city centre. Rightmove reported an increase of 99% in searches relating to this area. Other popular locales were Cambridge and Cirencester, with reported increases in interest of 76% and 75% respectively.
Most of the highly sought-after areas tend to offer lower rents, which means that in large part, the shift is mainly driven by the desire to increase savings. However, the desirability of certain home features such as gardens or access to parks has also increased, indicating a broader change in lifestyles as well.
Interesting to note is that a lot of renters are looking for larger properties – opting for studios versus shared apartments, or one-bedrooms instead of studio apartments. Research by the Hamptons International, a leading property firm indicated that 34% of tenants moved to flats with at least one extra bedroom. Many renters are looking for additional bedrooms or outhouses where they can set up home offices.
Aneisha Beveridge, the head of research at Hamptons International, commented of this trend - “While the race to suburbia has mostly been dominated by tenants in their mid-thirties onwards, younger tenants too have an increased appetite for additional space.”
An increasing number of companies have adopted work-from-home policies, making it easier for employees to live further afield. This has prompted a surge of interest in country living, further driven by the need for more space and access to the outdoors as a result of the limitations of government lockdowns.