Despite Covid-19 closing the housing market for seven weeks, the number of homes bought by Londoners outside the capital has risen to the highest level in four years. While leaving London has been a rite of passage for many, often families reaching life stage milestones, the effects of lockdown and the desire for space seems to have heightened this drift.
In 2020 London leavers purchased 73,950 homes outside the capital, the highest number in four years. Collectively, Londoners bought £27.6bn worth of property outside the capital this year, the highest amount since 2007 when London outmigration peaked. This figure exceeds the total value of all homes sold in the North West last year (£24.8bn).
However, there has been a clear increase in the popularity of London outmigration since the onset of Covid-19. In the first half of 2020, London leavers bought 6.9% of homes sold outside the capital, equating to 24,480 sales. However, in the second half of 2020, this figure rose to 7.8% and twice as many sales (49,470). In H2 2020 alone, Londoners purchased £18.4bn worth of property outside the capital, more than in any full year between 2008 and 2013.
The prospect of homeworking more regularly has also meant that London leavers are moving further than ever before. Since the housing market re-opened in May, Londoners leaving the capital have travelled further than ever before.
The average (median) distance moved by a Londoner buying outside the capital hit 40 miles for the first time in over a decade, up from just 28 miles during the first three months of the year. This means the average person leaving London from May onwards travels as far as Cambridge to the north, Colchester to the east, Brighton to the south or Didcot to the west.
While on average those buying outside the capital have bought further away than at any time during the last decade, how far buyers travel depends on who they are and how strong their ties to London are. First-time buyers tend to retain more of their ties to the capital, moving shorter distances than anyone else. Since May, the average first-time buyer leaving the capital bought 26 miles away.
Conversely, someone selling a home in London tends to sever their ties more deeply by moving much further. The average person selling their London home to buy outside the capital travels 41 miles, 57% further than a first-time buyer.
Sevenoaks recorded the biggest increase in the share of homes bought by Londoners. This year, 62% of homes in the area were bought from a Londoner, 39% higher than in 2019. Windsor and Maidenhead (+27%), Oxford (+17%) and Rushmoor (+15%) in Hampshire follow.