Revealed: The UK's new most searched-for places to live after a year of COVID lockdowns

·3-min read

The coronavirus pandemic appears to have upped people's interest in moving away to the countryside.

Cornwall has overtaken London as the most searched-for location on property website Rightmove in the past year, with more than five million searches in February alone.

It compared searches in January and February 2021 with January and February 2020, to show how trends have changed over a year of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Searches for the village of Stithians in Cornwall were up by 224% compared with a year ago, and searches for fellow Cornish destination Polperro 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 place 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 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 outside of that city.

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

Renters have also been searching for more space than last year.

The most sought-after property type for tenants in early 2020 was a two-bedroom flat - this has been replaced by a two-bed semi-detached house.

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."