Where are Londoners moving to during the pandemic?

Relocation season came early this year. Since the beginning of March, there has been a spike in requests for removals in London. But where are people moving to?
  • All the data shared below is based on the requests Fantastic Services has received for removals services during the period (March - August)
  • Note that all data refers to the number of households we have served and not the number of residents who may have moved form a given area
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The Flow of Londoners During the Pandemic

The COVID virus took humanity by surprise. It changed the lives of all of us and some have decided to start fresh in a different location, pressed by various reasons. Usually, August is the busiest month for our removals teams, but this year, we started getting more enquiries and removals requests from Londoners since March. So, we have decided to gather some data and draw up a few conclusions, in order to understand the main reasons behind people’s desire to relocate in these dire times.

What is the true driving force behind such a big decision? From where to have most of our clients moved? Our investigation, we hope, will give you a clearer picture of how the current pandemic has shaped the removals industry sector in London in recent months. It will also establish which are the preferred areas, so if you have decided to relocate, you can take a more informed decision. The following information is based on reports from the relocation business we operate spawning over the period March-August and covering 8, 000+ moving jobs.

Why People Move During Pandemic

Not all people were forced to move during the pandemic, because of the consequences of it or fear. People leaving London has actually been a trend for some years now. Usually, residents are just seeking a quieter life and more relaxed places, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Some families were already in a transition between properties, often from a rented house to their own new home. The onset of the pandemic just caught them mid-transition. However, there is no doubt that this year’s spike in relocations came early, and it coincided with other global events. The most common reasons for people to relocate, as a result of the new situation, were the following:

  • Moving to less populated areas to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Save money from rent by living with other family members/relatives.
  • People in new relationships, moving in together to avoid social distancing restrictions.
  • The pandemic has spurred people to rethink their living situations.
  • Relocating to closeby rural places to achieve better quality of life and work-life balance.
  • Closed schools, day cares and businesses, plus job losses prompted people to move.

Which are the areas that Londoners move out of the most

The following are the London boroughs, from which we’ve received the most relocation requests. There were clients, who just moved to a different property within the same borough, so we have included that percentage in the pie charts below.

Camden

Camden is right in the heart of London. It started to lose its population slowly and systematically years before the COVID pandemic, and Dartford has always been a popular destination for its residents. The Kentish town offers plenty of job opportunities, yet in much quieter settings and more relaxed atmosphere than the overcrowded Camden, which is double in size, in terms of population. On another note, a decent amount of the moves were performed within the area of Camden.

*10.64% from all requests were for moving from the Camden region to another one.

Westminster

In 2017, Westminster was claimed to be the second least affordable borough to rent in. So, when considering the above, which is most likely due to the highly dense population, the key governmental and royal entities in the area, as well as the many other sights, which are often flooded by tourists, it is not surprising that people want to relocate to nearby boroughs. The impact on income during the pandemic may have also played a role. However, during the pandemic, most of the requests were actually for moving to properties within Westminster. Second to that is the percentage representing people moving to Brent. Brent is largely different from Westminster. It is way further than the ideal centre of London. It is also not as densely populated and it is a blend of commercial, industrial and residential districts. This makes it ideal for young families. The industrial and commercial districts provide lots of job opportunities for those moving for new job during pandemic and the residential parts of the borough can present them with a suitable new home, at a lower price.(In recent years, there was a noticeable drop in property prices in Brent.)

*8.96% from all requests were for moving from the Westminster region to another one.

Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets is another central borough of London, through which there is a large number of people moving in and out every year. The one thing that probably stops newcomers from staying for too long is well-represented in a study conducted in 2017 by Trust for London and the New Policy Institute. The findings of the study show that Tower Hamlets is the borough with the largest amount of poverty and unemployment amongst its residents. This, of course, has worsened inevitably during the current health crisis. It is also highly populated and newcomers from all around the world come and go each day. It is a borough of striking contrasts. The contrast between poverty and expensive housing along with the luxurious life of owners of big businesses can be seen clearly. Also, the borough has a crime rate two times above the average within the UK, which does not work in its favour, as well.

*8.17% of all requests were for moving from the Tower Hamlets region to another one.

Which are the areas where Londoners relocate to the most

Taking a look at all the relocation activity during the most crucial months of the pandemic, we can establish the most desired areas to relocate to. So, let’s see which were the regions that got the newest residents with our help.

Brent

The borough of Brent has undergone, and probably still goes through a strategic development designed to bring new residents to the area. As far as we see, the changes have had a positive effect. Some of the projects included new student accommodations, transport links and the notorious Wembley stadium. The borough is well known for the good schools and various ways to commute to and from work using underground lines (Bakerloo, Metropolitan, Piccadilly, and Jubilee), overground railways like the Chiltern line, as well as the North Circular road for motorists. This makes the area a preferred option for young families. Property prices are rising, so there might be a bit of a rush amongst people to settle in the borough while they can.

*8.15% from all requests were for moving to the Brent region from another one.

Dartford

Dartford is another dream for those who want to escape from London and don’t mind commuting. Combining the numerous good schools, the lower risks, associated with the pandemic, the high employment rate and affordable housing and you got yourself a sweet deal for the new family life. This is enough for most of the newcomers in Dartford, but what makes this borough outshine others is its villages. They are still well-connected and allow people to enjoy the low-speed and quie way of life in the village, alongside its many other perks, on one hand and still be able to dive headfirst into the city nightlife whenever they feel like it, on the other. So, Dartford is the area with some of the best rural places to live near the capital city. This makes the borough ideal for those who have decided to move to the country.

*5.99% of all requests were for moving to the Dartford region from another one.

Tower Hamlets

Those, who find themselves employed in the business hub of Canary Wharf, will most likely prefer to settle in Tower Hamlets. Roughly 80% of the housing consists of apartments and the prices are close to those in Central London. On the other hand, thanks to the St Katherine’s Docks and its riverboats, you can easily travel from the outer parts of the borough to Canary Wharf with a 10 minute trip. So, despite all of its flaws, Tower Hamlets welcomes young and highly motivated people. People who are here to achieve a business goal, or to test their managing skills to the fullest. Tower Hamlets is also one of the boroughs with the highest number of relocations within the borough, which may mean that people are slowly moving towards its boundaries, or in other words, on their way towards leaving London.

*3.53% from all requests were for moving to the Tower Hamlets region from another one.

The regions with the most inner moves

Below, you can see the boroughs, where we’ve helped customers who moved addresses without leaving the area.

  • Tower Hamlets - 1.53%;
  • Westminster - 1.45%;
  • Camden - 1.16%.

Moving from London to another city during the pandemic

Escaping from London seems to have been on the mind of quite a number of our clients during the pandemic, once the lockdown restrictions eased off a bit. We’ve assisted folks from all walks of life to move from London to Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton and more. Whether the reason behind their relocation during the health crisis involved a job opportunity or moving closer to elderly relatives is hard to say but they all seemed determined to start a new life away from the capital city.

  • Liverpool;
  • Manchester;
  • Birmingham;
  • Leeds;
  • Brighton.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, Fantastic Services was on the front line of helping Londoners making big changes in their lives and relocate with minimum stress in times of uncertainty. Most requests for help with their move and packing involved clients who actually stayed in the capital city and only changed boroughs. Furthermore, quite a few were happy with the area and only moved a few blocks away. Our company continues to be inundated with removals requests amid the ongoing situation of restrictions for the next 6 months.

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