People owning property in the countryside in the UK are moving into towns because it is cheaper, according to research by a real estate search company.
Stacks Property Search, which has offices around the UK, has found that the age of austerity is having a clear effect and one emerging trend is to move from rural to urban life.
‘Country dwellers are looking at the cost of living and realising that town life costs a great deal less than country life. They’re not looking to pay less for a property, generally looking at what they can buy for much the same price as the property they’re selling, but they are looking to make savings in their day to day expenditure,’ said Charlotte Walker, regional director of Stacks Property Search.
‘As a concept, it makes sense. Families with school age children are counting the cost of school and social runs for their kids. With the price of fuel rocketing, permanent ferrying of children is adding dramatically to the bottom line,’ she explained.
People are finding that by moving into town, children can cycle or walk to school and to out of school activities. Other in the family can walk to the train station and shopping and social life is on the doorstep.
‘It tends to be cheaper to heat a house in a town than in the country too, and heating bills are becoming a serious drain on family finances. Semi detached or terraced houses have a great deal less exterior wall space, and towns are always several degrees warmer than the countryside,’ added Walker.
‘Confirmed country dwellers start to see other attractions about living in town than simply cost saving advantages. Mothers who’ve operated a free taxi service that can become an almost full time role suddenly find their lives freed up; and the cultural aspects of town life are sometimes a welcome exchange for dog walking and playing with ponies. Families who sought a country lifestyle when the children were tiny find that everyone was subconsciously ready for a change.
An example of a booming town is Stamford in Lincolnshire. The town has retained much of its old charm with many of the buildings constructed from Lincolnshire limestone. The population is a modest 18,000, but there are 11 churches, 30 pubs and 20 restaurants, good state and private schools, excellent rail links across the country and only 1.5 hours to London,’ explained Walker.
It also has beautiful architecture, The George Hotel, Burghley House, the medieval Browne’s hospital and museum and the open-air theatre at Tolethorpe Hall. The River Welland runs through the centre of town.
‘Here the finances look attractive. Selling a period four bedroom family home with a couple of acres in a good village will realise about £800,000. While £750,000 will buy a beautiful 18th Century family home with four or five bedrooms and garden right in the centre of the town,’ she added.
Bristol, Ludlow, Canterbury, Bath, Cheltenham, Exeter, Truro, Brighton and Stratford-upon-Avon are also proving popular.
Walker said there are a number of features that tend to make a town a good one to live in including a strong economy, a good sense of history, surrounded by lovely countryside, a fast train service, a theatre, good schools, a river, and a compact centre. A university will mean the town has life, while a small cathedral city is always a good choice and tends to indicate good cultural facilities.
‘Towns can be very different to live in than to visit, so anyone planning a big move should research the market well. My advice would always be to embrace town life and move right into the middle rather than the outskirts. But make sure you have plenty of allocated parking, either on or off road,’ said Walker.
‘If you’re used to country living, I would also advise that you opt for as big a garden as you can afford. Spend plenty of evenings in the town before deciding to move in. Some of the most civilised town centres can get fairly rough at night while others become ghost towns,’ she added.