RISING numbers of people are snubbing the countryside to live in the city, according to new reports.

Estate agents are finding the post-pandemic ‘race for space’ to leave London slowed in 2023 with fewer people buying properties outside the city.

According to one report the number of buyers leaving London moving to live elsewhere has fallen by a third since 2021 to its lowest level in nine years.

Overall, Londoners spent £28.7bn on countryside homes in 2023, down by 41 per cent from £48.8bn in 2021, and down by 29 per cent year on year.

The situation is leading to fears that prices of countryside and rural homes – which rose sharply during the pandemic – could fall in future years.

Property expert Jonathan Rolande, founder of House Buy Fast, commented: “We’ve definitely noticed a move back towards city-living which dropped off during the pandemic.

“Between 2020 and 2022 many people were looking to snap up more rural and remote homes due to the fact employers were really relaxed about work from home.

“Now, with the move back to the office, city properties are firmly back. The challenge of course is being able to afford one. But one consequence of this is that we could see prices of homes outside the city areas dropping.”


Here, Jonathan pinpoints the five factors which most impact on price.


Location – the return to work policy of many companies has seen zero days a week go to two days, then three – it won’t be long before there is a return to a five day week for many more people. Distance and convoluted commutes will make it impossible for many to continue living the idyllic countryside dream. Wages are lower for locals and a decreasing number of well-paid city workers will suppress demand and prices. So properties in more remote spots are likely to be hit hardest by any price drops.

Connectivity – 4g, 5g and super-fast broadband are as important to many as a gas and electricity supply. Nowhere seems perfect but many rural areas have less reliable connection and are affected more seriously by adverse weather, as we have seen in the last week or so. If you own a property where connectivity is poor it could well end up leading to your house-price dropping.


Nearby amenities: High Streets and pubs in rural areas have suffered post-Covid and many feel that the place just isn’t the same. Banks and Post Offices leaving won’t worry many city workers, happy to do business online, but the charm of many villages is without doubt being diminished in some areas. This is having a knock-on impact on prices.


Energy efficiency – Rural areas tend to be colder and communities there are hit harder by rises in prices, especially if not using mains gas. Older, country homes can be cold and drafty and costly to insulate, especially without spoiling character. Homes which aren’t energy efficient may find their value dip sharply. Climate change is a concern for everybody. Towns and cities are far from immune but it is fair to say that the effect are often felt more acutely in the countryside with an increased chance of flooding from rivers and hills.


Transport – The Government’s decision to change the plans for HS2 has been one of the biggest transport sagas in decades. But the rollout will be closely monitored by all working in the property sector. Access to a good, efficient and reliable train service will always help insulate the value of your home. So, too increasingly, will access to a good local bus or tram service. Properties who can’t offer either of those things and require a homeowner to need a car, and a parking space, will be less appealing to many looking to buy. And this could impact price.


Crime – Being a victim of a crime is still, thankfully, a rare event for most of us. But there’s no doubt that those looking to buy a home will increasingly analyse local crime rates first. Areas where the police take a proactive approach to policing, especially around the low-level anti-social behaviour and street crime which blights communities, will attract property buyers. Towns and cities where the local Chief Constable has admitted they’re not able to deal with the war on crime are likely to be less appealing and the housing market in those areas will suffer.