Moving to the country: how WFH will affect small town life

Local high streets could be poised for a revival if the trend for home working continues.

“Sales of second homes are booming as the metropolitan middle classes seek country boltholes.” 

“Left unchecked this is potentially an insatiable demand which hollows out permanent communities, pushes up prices and puts pressure to build on green fields.”

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As our working lives change, so are our living patterns – and this might well change the physical shape of our townscapes:

Work pods and working from home – Vision Group for Sidmouth

It is clear that our high streets are also facing huge changes:

COVID-19 Recovery Framework and guide for high streets – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Perhaps the new life-work balance will also have positive effect on our town centres:

Save our High Street: creating places where you can “work, rest and play” – Vision Group for Sidmouth

“The high street is vital to our community.” – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Particularly as companies close down their headquarters and formerly office-bound workers can stay put in the suburbs or move out to that dream location:

Decentralization and technology-enabled home working – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And so many commentators are saying this will ‘revive town life’:

Working from home: reviving town life – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Already in May, the FT was already asking the question:

Is now the right time to move to the country? | Financial Times

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And there are increasing signs that this is happening

Surge in interest for rural properties following COVID-19 pandemic – Rural Services Network

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And that this could have positive knock-on effects:

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Home working trend could ‘revive the High Street’

Local high streets could be poised for a revival if the trend for home working continues, a survey suggests.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ latest commercial property survey found almost all members – 93% – saw businesses scaling back their office space in the next two years. It said a move away from urban hubs could prompt a shift to neighbourhoods.

Home working trend could ‘revive the High Street’ – BBC News

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Although there are fears that such an inflow of cash into the provinces could also have its negative sides:

Coronavirus may have huge impact on property markets – BBC News

Fall in UK house prices will not help first-time buyers, think-tank predicts | Financial Times

The home-working revolution will derail the middle-class gravy train || telegraph.co.uk

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The East Devon Watch (aka ‘Owl’) news site references a piece from the Times:

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SECOND HOME SALES SOAR AS MIDDLE CLASSES QUIT CITIES

“Sales of second homes are booming as the metropolitan middle classes seek country boltholes in case of a second wave of coronavirus.”

Left unchecked this is potentially an insatiable demand which hollows out permanent communities, pushes up prices and puts pressure to build on green fields.  Second homers can always outbid the locally employed because of huge regional wage differentials.  – Owl

Andrew Ellson Consumer Affairs Correspondent The Times:

“The stamp duty holiday is also encouraging people who have been considering splashing out on a rural retreat to take the plunge, according to market experts. Coreco, the mortgage broker, says applications from people buying second homes are up more than 30 per cent since lockdown eased compared with the same time last year.

“Andrew Montlake, managing director of the company, said: ‘Lots of my clients have been thinking about it for a while. Lockdown was a big factor and has given them time to contemplate their future. They are also thinking that if we are going to go into lockdown again they might as well be somewhere nice rather than in London or the City. Most believe they will also be working more flexibly ‘in future so are looking for places with an office and garden.’ He added that people are buying at locations across the country but Norfolk, Devon and Cornwall were favourites.”

Second home sales soar as middle classes quit cities | East Devon Watch

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photo: File:Forest of For Sale Signs in Oughtibridge – geograph.org.uk – 714759.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

   
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