COVID-19’s impact on where people want to live

Britain’s latest lockdown has simply accelerated housing trends seen in the first one, headed by a desire to escape cities and towns and relocate to the coast, according to latest research from Property

The index, which tracks key aspects of the home buyers’ market, said the appeal of more indoor and outdoor space after being in lockdown for long periods is fuelling the growing urge for a seaside move.

The trend emerged from further research on seaside towns featured in the top 20 seaside locations of the Property Market Index Report 2020/21 – Coastal Property Markets for London Buyers, ‘Londoners by the Sea’ Index Report, which looked at 12 months of market trends and property prices.

To read the full updated report follow the link: Property Market-Index Report May 2021 ‘surge in demand for coastal living’

Three months on from that report, Amanda Collison, senior researcher at Property, reported: “We are now seeing demand far outweigh supply and this will continue to drive prices upwards for properties close to the sea.”

She added that any house with sea views or within a very short walking distance of the sea is £346,184 more expensive on average than a home elsewhere in the popular seaside locations identified for the report update, and these have become prime locations as developers and planners take note of a coastal living boom forecast for the next 5-10 years.

Estate agents have also noticed that older people are moving closer to family, while younger buyers are looking for an excellent place to start a family. With working from home expected to be the new norm, many house hunters are looking for more space too, such as garages and gardens to develop into home offices, which are not always practical, available, or affordable in a major town or city.

People moving out of London are also doing so because they need to ‘come into the office’ far more rarely, perhaps as little as once or twice a month which is further driving housing demand away from cities: 1 in 10 companies has already reduced office space due to COVID-19, with another 36% considering it, according to Management Today research.

Accumulate Capital conducted a survey of more than 500 senior decision-makers at companies also found that 73% expect their businesses to downsize as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Howells, chief executive of Accumulate Capital, said: “The days when a company would own or rent an office with a desk in it for each and every member of staff are coming to an end – in reality, this trend was already taking shape, but the coronavirus crisis has greatly accelerated it.”

Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister said: “More space has always been the most common reason for people moving home but the evolution for many, from balancing their laptop on the end of a bed last March to making an office a permanent addition to a home, has led to a need for even bigger homes than before.”

Property Market-Index May 2021 Update – ‘Londoners by the sea’ report






Average price paid for a home

Average cost of a home with sea views/walking distance of the sea

Difference in price (£) between columns 1 and 2




+£628,130 more




+£436,925 more




+£394,367 more




+£375,413 more




+£283,336 more




+£345,449 more




+£266,360 more




+£150,637 more




+£284,435 more




+£269,790 more

Average of all towns



+£343,484 more

Table 1: Figures taken from Zoopla and Rightmove; average cost of a house with sea views/within walking distance of the sea was calculated by taking the average of three properties within that category in each area (21 April 2021)

The past 12 months have displayed one of the most surprisingly active property markets of the last decade. According to Zoopla, the average value change in house prices during this time in these popular seaside towns is £26,752, an average increase of 9.2% despite the pandemic.

Director Ben Smith from the Miles & Barr estate agency, with branches in various coastal towns across Kent said: “We have seen an influx of buyers from London and other urban areas as they seek the perks of coastal living. One hundred thousand plus people were commuting to international stations in Stratford and St Pancras prior to the lockdown and have realised, along with many city dwellers, that they can live and work right next to the sea with sea views and award-winning beaches on their doorstep. Clean air, café culture, less travel, more space and value for money as well as a shortage of stock are making these coastal towns the ‘go to’ location for property buyers.”

“Ramsgate, Margate and Deal in particular are seeing huge demand due to their maritime history and culture. So much investment continues to come into these coastal locations.”

Amanda Collison, at said: “People are looking to properties by the coast for the quality of life, fresher air, more space and a family-friendly appeal. The trend has only accelerated since our Coastal Property Markets for London Buyers, ‘Londoners by the Sea’ Index Report.”

And she added that with the stamp duty holiday extension and reintroduction of 95% mortgages, expects to see further high demand for properties in the popular coastal areas.