Flight to suburbs hits London, too

Covid bug sending Londoners further afield


The Covid-induced flight to the suburbs isn’t a uniquely American move.

The Financial Times is reporting Londoners are heading out of their Jolly Olde Town in droves, sparked by the need for bigger spaces and more room to breathe.

Residents of Great Britan’s capital city spent more than $735 billion buying property in its suburbs, backing up evidence of a flight from the city that could drastically impact London’s population and real estate market.

Those calling London home purchased more than 110,000 homes outside city lines, the most since more than 113,000 were purchased during a red-hot market back in 2007.

The moves come as offices were forced to close or reduce capacity, allowing workers to do their jobs from home — and giving them a chance to find more space in the suburbs and beyond, according to the newspaper. And with the Omnicron variant surging, it looks like they’ll be able to continue to do so for some time.

Real estate agents in the city are calling the trend the “race for space,” with buyers seeking out homes with much more room then you’ll find in a typical London flat — and some outdoor space to boot.

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Not helping matter for inner-city apartments was the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, the aftermath of which has “overwhelming affected apartment blocks built over the last 20 years,” the paper reported.

But just because they are leaving the city doesn’t mean they are leaving the city: half of the purchases were made in the commuter towns of Dartford, St. Albans and Elmbridge, giving newcomers easy access to their old haunts.

Still, the move could hurt the town’s overall population.

Experts say the moves, coupled with fewer migrations to the city post-Brexit could leave fewer people living there overall.

In American cities such as New York, the Covid pandemic has resulted in families making the move to greener pastures outside city limits and much further afield.

[Financial TImes] — Vince DiMiceli

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