Home Sweet Home Counties?
For years, London has been the place to be for young people. For most University graduates, London signals the road to job opportunities that you can’t find elsewhere. However, with the impact of Covid-19 and the increase of people working from home, will the increasingly expensive concrete jungle really be that appealing to young people anymore?
Many young people are drawn to London for the buzz of the city and the array of job opportunities. However, the last few months have really highlighted the stark contrast between life in the city and the countryside. A lot of people, not just the younger generation, have spent lockdown in expensive small London flats with a lack of green space. Whilst restrictions have eased now and we’re able to make use of London’s green spaces, the period when even sitting in a park wasn’t allowed proved to be quite difficult for many people without private outdoor space. Of course, this isn’t an issue exclusive to London, but it does raise the question of whether more young people will reconsider the goal of moving to London in favour of the Home Counties for example.
Zoopla estimates house prices in London as £595k, an unreachable goal for many, whereas the average house price in Buckinghamshire is £408k and £320k in Kent. Whilst still clearly higher than other parts of the country, living in these areas offers the best of both worlds. With most people still working from home and uncertainties looming about the future of the traditional office environment, the commutes into London for work will reduce. The difficult nature of the job market at the moment means that many graduates and young people potentially might return to their family homes and end up staying in that area if they find a job there. Those people living in the Home Counties pretty much get the best of both worlds, being able to travel into London for the theatre or a great restaurant but leaves you with some green space to enjoy for a weekend walk.
What are young people looking for in a home?
Asides from the obvious point of actually being affordable, what key features of housing design will be increasingly important for years to come?
It is unlikely that there will be a drastic change in housing requirements (young people may always be using technology, but not many people are expecting a complete ‘Smart Home’ anytime soon). We have seen an increase in desire for and interest in sustainable and environmentally friendly homes and this is something that is here to stay for the next generation of home buyers. This is the generation who carry reusable straws and tote bags, and once they have the money to do so they will want to make sure that these values transfer across to their homes. Whether this includes Passivhaus design, solar panels or eco-friendly materials, these elements will be key in drawing younger people away from the rental market.
Alongside this, the other key points for young home buyers remain the same – good transport links and good entertainment and socialising options so that people do not have to travel into London if they don’t want to. Not exclusive to the younger generation, but the lockdown period has also highlighted the need for new homes to have some element of open space and those properties that offer this will be increasingly sought after.
It might be a while before we see any definitive trend appear, but this is definitely one to keep an eye on.