This year, Londoners purchased 112,780 homes outside the capital, the highest number since 2007.
New data, from Connells-owned agency Hamptons, shows that a rise in the average purchase price meant that Londoners spent a record £54.9 billion on homes outside the capital this year.
A rise in flexible working combined with affordability barriers have meant that more first-time buyers have left the capital than ever before, too.
First-time buyers made up a quarter of Londoners buying outside the capital, the highest share since the agency’s records began Some 38 per cent of London-based first-time buyers left the capital to buy their first home.
Hamptons suggests that for many, houses outside the capital offer better value for money, and with that comes more space.
Londoners traded 238,990 bedrooms in London for 274,970 bedrooms outside the capital this year. Two in five London leavers used the opportunity to upsize and gain at least one additional bedroom, while 28 per cent downsized.
The opportunity to work from home has meant Londoners are moving 23 per cent or 6.4 miles further than in pre-pandemic times.
While most London leavers want to retain links with the capital, the average London leaver moved 34.7 miles away this year – roughly the distance from Kensington to Henley-On-Thames or Crawley.
The increase is also partly because more Londoners are leaving inner boroughs than ever before. This year, inner Londoners made up a record 40 per cent of the capital’s leavers, up from 37 per cent in 2020.
Moving an average of 34.7 miles means 76 per cent of London buyers purchased their property in southern England. Dartford is the favoured destination for movers selling up in London, while Londoners made up the highest share of first-time buyers in St Albans this year.
While movers and first-time buyers are keen to retain links with the capital, second home buyers and investors are prepared to look further. Nearly one in three London-based investors purchased their buy-to-let in the North in search of higher yields.
“2021 is likely to mark the largest outmigration from London for at least a generation. Over the last 20 years, more homeowners have bought outside the capital than those who own in London today. City leavers have changed the geography of not only the commuter belt, but smaller towns and cities across Southern England. And this has become increasingly entrenched in a Covid world” says Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons.
“The rise of flexible working coupled with affordability barriers have meant that a record 40 per cent of first-time buyers now leave the capital to buy their first home. The capital’s loss is the home counties gain with these buyers prepared to move 24 per cent further than before the pandemic began, taking their wealth and experience with them.
“There are still many uncertainties about what long-term impact the pandemic will have on the way we live our lives and how we work. It seems likely that hybrid remote working is set to continue in some form, which will keep outmigration numbers above pre-pandemic norms. However, after this year’s frenzy, we expect the numbers to fall back a little, particularly as house prices outside the capital are set to continue outperforming London over the next few years. We expect to see the number of London purchases outside the capital average around 85,000 in both 2022 and 2023, around 10,000 more than during the five years leading up to the pandemic.”