Cornwall overtakes London as most searched-for place to live

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·3-min read

Cornwall has overtaken London as the most searched-for location on a property website.

Rightmove said there were more than five million searches for properties in Cornwall in February 2021 alone.

It compared searches in January and February 2021 with January and February 2020, to show how trends have changed over a year of coronavirus lockdowns.

Fishing boats in Portloe, Cornwall
There were more than five million searches for properties in Cornwall in February 2021, Rightmove said (David Davies/PA)

Searches for the village of Stithians in Cornwall were up by 224% compared with a year ago, while searches for Polperro, also in Cornwall increased by 203%.

These were the biggest annual increases seen across Britain.

Searches for properties in Braemar in Aberdeenshire increased by 189%, making it the location with the third highest annual jump in property searches.

Dorset jumped into the top 10 in this year’s most popular counties, after being in 20th place a year ago, as people search for attractive countryside and seaside locations.

There have also been more people who currently live in a city inquiring about a property that is outside of that city.

The biggest shift has been in London, where a year ago 39% of house hunters were inquiring about properties outside London. This has jumped up to over half (52%).

Renters are also searching for more space. A year ago, the most sought-after property type for tenants was a two bedroom flat, and this has been replaced by a two bed semi-detached house, Rightmove said.

Swimmers in Dorset
Dorset county has jumped in the top 10 for property searches, Rightmove said (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister said: “The stand-out trends over the past year have been increased demand for countryside and coastal living, more people making the dream of a detached home a reality, and the increased appeal for a garden.

“The huge population of London means that traditionally it’s the most searched-for location on Rightmove, but the appeal of the coast and the countryside over the past year has seen Cornwall crowned the new capital this year.

“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, whether that’s by converting a bedroom, garage or garden shed, has led to a need for even bigger homes than before.

“This is evident with five-bed detached homes seeing the biggest growth in sales, and two-bed homes becoming the most sought after for people renting.”

A stamp duty holiday, which was due to end in March 2021, has now been extended and thresholds will not revert to normal levels until October 2021.

Several big high street lenders are also gearing up to take part in a new 5% deposit mortgage guarantee scheme from this spring, which should also support the market.

Emma Ward, director at Goundrys estate agents in Cornwall said: “Detached homes, which are around the £500,000 to £700,000 mark here, have been flying off the shelves.”

Here are the most searched for locations in January and February 2020, according to Rightmove:

1. London

2. Cornwall

3. Devon

4. Bristol

5. Glasgow

6. York

7. Edinburgh

8. Sheffield

9. Manchester

10. Cambridge

And here are the most searched for locations in January and February 2021, according to Rightmove:

1. Cornwall

2. London

3. Devon

4. Bristol

5. Glasgow

6. Edinburgh

7. Sheffield

8. York

9. Manchester

10. Dorset