Cornwall saw a big boost in its population last year from people choosing to leave their lives elsewhere in the country.
The Duchy is experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis, partly thanks to the mass exodus from other parts of the country which actually started even before the Covid pandemic. Newly-released figures show that the numbers of people moving to Cornwall outstripped those moving away by thousands.
Most new arrivals for the relevant period came from London, followed by other areas of the South West, including just over the border in Plymouth and West Devon.
Read more: House prices rise by more than £100,000 in three areas of Cornwall – among only eight in the whole UK
While the trends mostly pre-date Covid, housing market experts at Zoopla said the pandemic may have led to a reassessment of where we live, with a search for space leading to more rural areas.
A total of 22,685 people moved to Cornwall from elsewhere in the UK in the year to June 2020, while 17,750 moved away. This meant the local population increased by 4,935 due to people choosing Cornwall for a new life.
That was the biggest net increase due to internal migration for any part of England and Wales last year. Nearly a fifth of that increase was down to people leaving London.
Cornwall saw 865 more people arrive from London than leave for the capital in the year to June 2020 – the highest net gain in a decade. There can be little doubt that this has only increased since the dates these figures relate to as that was more than a year ago.
Where people have been moving to Cornwall from
In terms of the number of people moving to Cornwall, the biggest inflows to the area last year came from other parts of the South West.
London – 2,240
Plymouth – 1,678
Bristol – 619
West Devon – 422
Torridge – 403
Where people moving from Cornwall have been relocating to
It’s a similar picture for where people in Cornwall were most likely to move to (figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland aren’t broken down):
Plymouth – 1,888
Bristol – 674
Exeter – 542
Scotland – 401
West Devon – 377
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Where others have been moving to Cornwall from
In terms of areas responsible for the biggest net inflow of people into Cornwall, it was also a popular destination for people leaving Birmingham:
Buckinghamshire – 154
Birmingham – 147
North Somerset – 109
Wiltshire – 100
West Northamptonshire – 91
The story around the UK
In the year to mid-2020, an estimated 3.2 million people moved between local authorities in the UK. The impact of the pandemic meant that was a 12 per cent fall compared to 3.7 million moves in the year to mid-2019.
The UK Government issued guidance on March 26 advising people to delay house moves if at all possible during the lockdown period, meaning that some sales that were due to complete in March will not have gone ahead. The Welsh Government issued similar guidance.
As well as this, lockdown rules prevented in-person house viewings.
From May 13, estate agents in England could conduct viewings. In Wales, viewings of empty properties were allowed from June 22, while viewing of occupied properties could restart from July 27.
However, despite the overall fall in the number of people moving, net outflows from major cities were at similar or higher levels to previous years.
In the year to mid-2020, around 101,381 more people left London for elsewhere in the UK than moved in – consistent with the average for the previous three years.
This was because the number of people leaving London dropped by less (8%) than the fall in the number moving in (down 14%).
Outside of London, Birmingham, Manchester Derby, Cardiff, Swansea, York and parts of Huddersfield saw their biggest net outflows in a decade.
Areas that saw their biggest net in-flow in a decade last year included more rural areas and leafier parts near major cities, such as Cheshire East, Central Bedfordshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, County Durham, Rushcliffe, Wokingham, and Carmarthenshire.
These trends mostly predate lockdown – as the data covers from June 2019 – but it seems likely they continued, and were possibly boosted, as the pandemic hit.
Gráinne Gilmore, Head of Research at Zoopla comments: “The pandemic, and several lockdowns, led to a once in a lifetime reassessment of home for many who have reviewed how and where they live.
“For some, a requirement for additional space has led them to more rural locations, particularly if they’re no longer required to be in the office five days a week. This increase in activity in rural markets, especially when there is a limited number of homes for sale, has put upward pressure on house prices.
“However total levels of buyer demand remain higher in cities and towns, as this is where the majority of homes for sale are located.”
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