According to the latest statistics, Londoners are migrating outside of the city. The number of workers moving away from London has been increasing over recent years. However, COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the phenomenon.
Total jobs estimates that 1.6m Londoners have been considering moving out of the capital. For comparison, this is approximately 26% of the local population. Historically, London received a whopping one-third of UK graduates. The trend, referred to as the brain drain, is showing alarming signs of reversing. The pandemic has made London less appealing to professionals. However, the move is also echoed in big cities around the UK, such as Birmingham and Manchester. People are moving away from buzzing centres of activity. But the urban exodus is not without consequences.
Desire for a lockdown-friendly place
Life in a large city happens outside the home. London’s homes, for instance, tend to have smaller median floor space compared to homes in other regions. With an average size of 76 sqm, British homes are small. But, almost 45% of homes within London’s borough are smaller than 76 sqm. When lockdown restrictions force people to remain at home, it’s easy to see how difficult the situation can be. The pandemic is driving people out of cities because city homes are suited for a healthy lockdown.
On the other hand, the rise of remote working arrangements also encourages professionals to consider properties outside of the typical urban landscape. Real estate agencies and specialist property platforms such as for-sale are facing high demands from urban dwellers who want to expand their horizons. In short, cities are becoming empty as countryside and suburban locations are experiencing an unusual revival.
Lockdown has made us green
Another big trend that’s appeared during lockdown is the development of green initiatives. The first and second lockdowns in the UK have highlighted the role that each household can hold in the environmental response to climate change. With commute kept to a minimum and only reserved for essential travels, households have been quick to spot differences in their local environment. Wildlife is coming back en masse to some urban areas. Respiratory and allergic discomfort in urban landscapes dropped, following a drop in outdoor pollution. As a result, homeowners are looking into new opportunities to build a sustainable house life, including sustainable property investments. Moving homes outside of cities enables homeowners to bring sustainability at the heart of their real estate strategies, whether they buy or renovate green.
Pandemic & Brexit are leading to a future crisis
Another alarming consequence of the British response to the pandemic is the long-term deskilling of cities. International skilled workers are leaving the UK, as a reaction of the government’s approach to COVID-19 that has been enhanced by Brexit chaos. London’s economy is at risk as both international and national workers desert the city. With no way to repopulate the capital and other British cities, it appears that businesses and the real estate market are at the verge of an unprecedented crisis.
The pandemic is not only taking lives, but it is also claiming cities in an unparalleled response to a political, health, and economic crisis. Investors and decision-makers need to consider safety strategies abroad to navigate the post-pandemic chaos that will arise in the UK.