UK rental map to be redrawn with London exodus 'inevitable', says SpareRoom

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As the government prepares to roll out the first coronavirus vaccines, much of the nation will be anticipating a return to a more ‘normal’ life in 2021. But for London’s housing market there may be no going back to normal. New research from flatshare site SpareRoom shows that 49 per cent of the capital's renters who intend to move plan to quit the city for good once the pandemic is over.

According to the research, 27 per cent of renters in London plan to move after the pandemic has come to an end, with half of them (49 per cent) determined to leave the city. The upshot is a projected 13 per cent net exodus of renters from London. What’s more, with 60 per cent of all renters who plan on moving post-Covid-19 are not looking to move to a major city, a wider shift away from city living looks likely.

SpareRoom’s survey also shows that one in ten (9 per cent) renters have moved during the pandemic. This figure more than doubles for 23-29-year olds however, with 24 per cent of this age group having moved within the last nine months. Overall, reasons for moving mid-pandemic included needing to save money (22 per cent), loss of job and income (9 per cent), a desire to live in a different area (26 per cent), to be closer to family and friends (15 per cent) and to live with a partner (15 per cent).

The research also highlights a huge affordability crisis for young people, with one in three people (33 per cent) aged 23-29 saying they live with their parents. This figure only drops to one in five (18 per cent) for people in their thirties.

Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom Director said, “We’re looking at a redrawing of the UK’s rental map in 2021 and London will be the biggest loser. Whether it’s down to the catastrophic effects of Covid on tourism, hospitality and the arts, driven more by lifestyle factors like wanting outdoor space, or simply the realisation that many jobs can now be done from anywhere, London living is losing its appeal for many. 

"We’ve already seen the effects on London rents, with averages falling consistently since spring. What happens next is the interesting thing. This could be the start of a changing UK economy that relies less on London and the South East, as remote working becomes the new norm. If that’s the case, London rents are unlikely to recover quickly and house prices could follow suit once the stamp duty holiday ends.”