A Guide To Moving Off Grid

A fifth of Brits set to move out of town

Recent research carried out by Northern Energy revealed that as lockdown started to ease in June 2020, a fifth of Brits were considering relocating to the countryside. Over half of these people have never considered relocating before. The figure of people considering the move rises to a huge one in three amongst 25 – 34 year olds. Jeremy Hopkinson of Hopkinsons estate agents in Harrogate, explained to us why the trend for urban living might have had it’s day and what to look out for if you’re considering a countryside relocation.

Why is countryside living more popular than ever?

“There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has made people reassess their priorities. Post lockdown, families in particular are considering the functionality of their outdoor space (if they have it at all) their security and the facilities they have within their properties to work from home. And for many, the new requirements in their lives are beyond making simple changes to their current properties, resulting in the decision to look further afield. Since we started trading again, we’ve certainly seen an increase in demand for properties in village hamlet locations.”

What is countryside living?

According to Jeremy, the lines between urban and rural are becoming blurred. “Many of the UK’s towns and cities are still expanding at a rapid rate. What were once disconnected villages are now growing centres in their own right with their own amenities and transport links. And with new build estates often bridging the space between traditional villages and town centres, a property which might benefit from that rural feeling  is still only ten minutes drive from the facilities associated with towns such as secondary schools and supermarkets. It’s important to remember though that many of these ‘rural’ locations, whilst still feeling connected, will be off-grid and not have fibre optic broadband, so utilities and services will need to be given special consideration when moving house.”

What are people looking for from countryside living?

Northern Energy’s research found that the following factors are the most important to property seekers when looking for a rural property:

  • Breathtaking views (22%)
  • Reliable broadband and WIFI (21%)
  • Property with land attached (16%)
  • A pub close by (7%)
  • Good schools close by (6%)
  • Reliable off-grid energy supplier (4%)

Stuart Illingworth, managing director at Northern Energy said: “The fact that only four per cent of people see finding the right rural energy supplier as a priority means that some people might get quite a shock if they do decide to make the move. Off-grid energy is simple to navigate but it is a different way of living and should be taken into consideration as part of any major move”

What to consider when moving to the countryside

Jeremy Hopkinson of Hopkinsons estate agents offers up the following advice for moving out of town. “Whilst views might be a big part of the countryside dream, I’d suggest there are more important things to be looking at first from a practical point of view – a view should be the icing on the cake. These are the top three things I recommend my clients consider before making a second viewing at a rural property:

  • Location: When you’ve found a property that you’re excited about, measure the distance to your work and your children’s school. Is the commute still workable? Don’t just think about what it’s like on a quiet Sunday afternoon, but take into account the travel time in rush hour as well
  • Running costs: At Hopkinsons, we show council tax bands on property listings, so it’s easy to get an idea of the cost of this potentially major outgoing. If your estate agency doesn’t do that, you can use this simple tool where you’ll just need to input the property’s postcode to find out the price. Displaying Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) is now standard practice when marketing a property, which shows the current and potential energy performance of a property to help with budgeting too. For even more detail, this handy guide weighs up the pros and cons of heating oil versus LPG to power off-grid homes and a rough costing for each
  • Area and amenities: It sounds basic, but is there a shop, a doctor’s surgery or a school nearby? If you have young children, this will be particularly important. You also might want to have a look at the school’s latest OFSTED reports too

There are some really wonderful, unique properties available in rural locations and I completely understand the appeal of making the move, especially at this uncertain time. Just remember to think through all the realities of living in such an area before making any decisions.”

Average house prices in the five most desirable places to live

Since the government introduced a stamp duty holiday in a bid to get the market moving again post coronavirus, there’s been a ‘mini boom’ in sales agreements and mortgage searches have started to rise again. If you’re one of the one fifth of people looking to relocate to the countryside, these average prices might help as a guide. We’ve mapped RightMove’s House Price Index with our own research to show the average price of houses across the UK with the most desirable areas to live.

  • Cornwall: Voted the most desirable countryside location in Northern Energy’s survey. The average house price here is £320,361
  • Scotland: Voted the second most desirable countryside location. The average house price here is £166,322
  • The Lake District: Voted the third most desirable countryside location. The average house price here is £208, 330
  • Yorkshire: Voted the fourth most desirable countryside location. The average house price here is £204,050
  • Kent: Voted the fifth most desirable countryside location. The average house price here is £418,795

*All prices correct as of July 2020, according to RightMove.

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