"Times are changing, and so is what people need from their homes."
Making a move to the country can meet these new needs, potentially at a lower cost than people might expect. Those who rent in London and other major UK cities are now considering whether being at the heart of the action is worth the high rental prices for small apartments with little access to green space. This has resulted in an increasing number of people looking to break the rental cycle and make a move to the suburbs, seeking to benefit from the improved wellbeing that the countryside offers.
Renting is often the only way people can afford to live in London, however, with average rental prices at £1,646 per month, the cost is still considerably more than many mortgages throughout the rest of the UK. In addition, with much of the accommodation in the capital made up of apartments, house buyers could find a detached home with a garden for a lower mortgage cost per month than if they were renting a flat in the city.
Affording the deposit could also be less of a concern than many think, with Help to Buy an option for all first-time buyers. For example, every new build home at custom and self-build development site, Graven Hill, in Bicester, is eligible for Help to Buy. This enables first-time buyers to purchase their dream home using a five percent deposit, with the Government providing an equity loan of up to 20 percent of the property value.
As well as being more accessible than many people think, purchasing a home in a more rural location often offers increased living space and easier access to the great outdoors, promoting wellbeing. Restrictions surrounding outdoor activity and travel during lockdown have unsurprisingly had a large impact on people’s mental and physical health, particularly those in smaller city centre apartments. Having a home close to nature, whether that’s local woodland walks or even a garden, gave and continues to give those in the countryside a sense of freedom that city dwellers might not have had, leading to space now being prioritised over convenience.
Countryside living doesn’t have to mean isolation from city centre shops and amenities either. The town of Bicester is a prime example, with two train stations with direct links to London, as well as easy access to cities such as Oxford and Birmingham. Although flexible working appears to be the future of many businesses, for those that do return to the office, garden towns like Bicester offer a simple commute and a peaceful location to relax after work.
Alongside these cost and location benefits, buying rather than renting allows people to put their own personal stamp on their home. Self-building is one route to a home that suits a person’s every need, but it can be out of reach for many due to time and cost. However, that doesn’t mean buyers have to compromise.
Custom build new homes, offered only at a handful of development sites, including Graven Hill, are the ideal choice for those looking for a home filled with personality without having to do any heavy lifting. The structure of the home is completed by a team of professionals, and all that is left for buyers to do is decide on the bespoke elements such as the internal fixtures and fittings.
Plus, home ownership offers buyers the added bonus of being able to decorate and furnish the property to fit their preferences, a luxury that renters often miss out on.
Times are changing, and so is what people need from their homes. As the pandemic carries on, the freedom of the countryside continues to call to many. Answering that call and taking the first step on the property ladder could be the answer to improving people’s wellbeing with a home that caters to every need.
Karen Curtin, managing director at Graven Hill.