Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

House Price Slump Slows Exodus to the Countryside

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

House Price Slump Slows Exodus to the Countryside

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn and Miranda Bryant

THE number of London families seeking a better life in the country has fallen to its lowest in a decade.

The total who left the capital to settle in other parts of Britain fell to 228,600 last year, less than any year since 1999, from more than 250,000 in 2007.

The latest figures show that after arrivals from elsewhere in Britain were taken into account, the net outflow from London was 56,000, the lowest since the mid-Nineties.

This compares with more than 80,000 in 2007 and 116,000 as outflow peaked in 2004, when the boom in London house prices meant families could easily cash in their flats and terrace homes for much larger properties in market towns and villages.

The outflow was typically concentrated in the 25 to 44 and under-15 age groups, suggesting that parents were taking young children out of London in search of better schools, less crime and more space.

Officials at the Greater London Authority said the steep fall in numbers was likely to be the result of the property slump rather than a fundamental change in opinion in the town versus country debate.

Focus on London, the GLA's annual round-up of statistics, says: "This appears to be the first recorded impact of the credit crunch on mobility and probably reflects the downturn in house sales."

Property agents in areas of the country favoured by Londoners said many were now abandoning plans to move because of the difficulty of selling their homes. Susan Burge, director of rental agency Rent Cheltenham, said: "We are finding a lot of people who came from London to rent here while they looked for a house are going back.

"It is quite a turnaround and we have never seen it before. They find their house difficult to sell in London and rather than keep two houses going they decide to let one go.

"We've had three notices handed in this week by people who are going back to London. They're often sad because they normally come here because they want a calmer pace of life." Another growing problem is the shortage of properties to buy. Owners of country and small town residences sought by Londoners are holding on for a rise in the market after seeing prices drop by up to 20 per cent in the past year. …

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