London exodus as movers flock to buy outside the capital

The pandemic has been a factor in Londoners looking to move.

Londoners have been exiting the capital in their droves during 2020. - Credit: Getty Images/Fuse

The pandemic has resulted in an increase in outmigration from cities – particularly London.  

More than 70,000 homes were bought outside the capital by London leavers during 2020, the highest level in four years.  

In total, 73,950 properties were purchased by Londoners at an average of £372,860, the highest figure since London outmigration peaked in 2007.  

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. 

In the first half of 2020, London leavers bought 6.9 per cent of homes sold outside the capital, rising to 7.8 per cent in the second half of the year (double the total number of sales, from 24,480 to 49,470).  

Stevenage, Luton and Watford were among the 15 local authorities with the biggest uplift in the share of homes bought by Londoners this year, with annual increases of 12, 10 and 9 per cent respectively and 19, 29 and 45 per cent of homes sold to ex-capital dwellers during 2020.   

Stevenage, Luton and Watford have all seen a significant increase in London buyers.

Top 15 local authorities with the biggest increase in the share of homes bought by Londoners. - Credit: Hamptons

Sevenoaks recorded the biggest increase; this year, 62 per cent of homes in the area were bought by a Londoner, 39 per cent higher than in 2019.  

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Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said that while leaving London has long been a rite of passage for many, "the effects of lockdown and the desire for space seems to have heightened this drift".  

A combination of the stamp duty holiday bringing planned moves forward and more widespread homeworking resulting in the increased appeal of areas further from the capital have been key to many of this year's sales, she said.

Aneisha added: “We expect this outmigration trend to continue into the first half of next year too. But usually as prices in the capital begin to flatline, which we forecast to happen in the second half of 2021, more Londoners decide stay put.

"Even so, given the housing market has been anything but normal since the onset of COVID, we expect to see the total number of homes bought by London leavers next year hit 2016 levels.” 

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