How far did you go last time you moved house? Chances are it wasn’t very far at all. Our analysis of data from 2017-19 provided by Experian as well as figures from the ONS suggests that around half of all moves, whether by home owners or renters, are within three miles as people look to minimise the disruption to their daily working life, school and social routines.
Only around seven in 100 people move more than 50 miles, while over a quarter (26 per cent) of all moves tend to be within a single mile, the average distance a honey bee flies from the hive.
There is something of a North-South divide in moving trends in England. In the North 57 per cent of moves are with a three-mile radius, whereas in the South that falls to 43 per cent. Over a fifth of moves in the South are more than 20 miles, compared to just 15 per cent in the North.
Londoners were least likely to stay within three miles of their start point, perhaps because the capital’s transport network allows for greater flexibility of location. Also, the very high cost of trading up the housing ladder within the same postcode means upsizers tend to look to cheaper neighbouring boroughs or further out from the centre.
This analysis also revealed a wealth divide. More affluent households tend to move the furthest, their higher incomes allowing them to make lifestyle choices and perhaps trade up into new areas. In the 24 local authorities with the highest deprivation rating, some 60 per cent of home moves are within a three-mile radius, a figure that falls to 37 per cent in the 39 wealthiest local authorities.
Hartlepool, where three-quarters of all home movers go less than three miles, has a deprivation rating of 35 and average house price of just £148,235. At the other end of the scale, South Cambridgeshire has a deprivation rating of 8.5, an average house price of £413,399 and 72 per cent of moves are more than three miles.
It’s a similar story in South Buckinghamshire, at the heart of London’s prime commuter belt, where the deprivation rating is 9.5 and the average house price £743,837.
The higher levels of housing equity amongst home owners across the capital’s prime markets and associated commuter belt allow home buyers greater flexibility in their choice of location.
Covid-19 and the experience of lockdown may lead to more people exercising the freedom of choice this affords them. Client surveys affirm that many home movers are more focused than ever on having more space, both indoors and outdoors, and on achieving a better work-life balance.
We could see those with the opportunity and means to make such choices looking to move further afield than in the past, though access to work (even if only two or three days a week), local amenities and a sense of community will continue to be important drivers shaping decision-making.