Is the grass greener? - Over half of rural residents eyeing a move due to pandemic

Property Reporter
26th January 2021
Counrtyside 101

It seems like the highly publicised exodus of urban dwellers to escape city life and head for the hills is only half the story. Newly released data from Aviva reveals a more complicated picture.

According to a new survey of 6,000 people, those living in rural or semi-rural locations are actually more likely to want to move to different surroundings than those living in urban and sub-urban areas. More than half of UK adults living in rural (52%) and semi-rural (53%) locations would like a change of scene, a higher proportion than those dwelling in suburban or urban places (39% in both cases).

Where do people want to live?

Many residents of rural and semi-rural locations show a desire to move to places with more facilities. Nearly a third of people (31%) in a rural dwelling wish to move to a semi-rural setting, while almost the same proportion (30%) of people in semi-rural properties hope to move to a suburban location.

Why do people want to move?

When it comes to why people wish to live in a certain location, reasons differ according to the new setting. People are more likely to believe rural (42%) and semi-rural (36%) locations would provide a better quality of life for their family/children. Similarly, more people believe there will be health benefits due to lower pollution in rural (37%) and semi-rural (28%) locations.

Compared to all other types of setting, urban locations are more likely to be chosen for a better social life (23%) facilities (22%), and transport links (22%).

A relatively small number of people say they plan to move because they could work from home and wouldn’t need to commute as often. This is fairly consistent at around 15% across all location types.

A similar number (15%) say they would consider moving to reduce the possibility of infections such as Covid. Generally, this trend leans towards rural (18%) and semi-rural (16%) settings, although 8% of people feel they’d be less likely to be infected in an urban setting.

Finally, coinciding with reports that demands for pets have soared during lockdown, one in 10 residents (11%) report their home needs have been influenced by getting or planning to get a dog.

Gareth Hemming, MD for Personal Lines, Aviva says: “Our research shows a disparity between what we might expect to see and the world as it actually is. As more people and businesses have adapted to home-working, this might suggest that people may want to move out of city locations. But the full picture is much more complicated and many people are hoping to move around for a wide variety of reasons, with some planning to move into more urban spaces.

“As people move around, it’s important that they review their home insurance to make sure it covers their new circumstances. And at Aviva, as people’s home requirements change, our insurance products are evolving too. So wherever customers choose to live, we hope to have a solution to meet their needs.”

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