As we move into a lockdown grey area (some might contend that it’s always been a grey area), the possibility of forging a new life, away from the cramped conditions of the city and into the comparably spacious and verdant meadows of the countryside, is more appealing than ever. Not only is summer a more pleasant experience when you’re far away from sweltering pavements and broiling Tube carriages, the notion of having much more space per person gives you an extra feeling of safety and security in terms of the likelihood of you or your loved ones succumbing to Covid-19 or whatever the next pandemic happens to be. Who among us experiencing the lockdown in London hasn’t pined for the idea of strolling through deserted woods, ambling across fields of gambling lambs or just having a much larger garden. Apart from a few conveniences and, perhaps, more cultural activities, city life is losing its lustre. But is now really the right time to make that move? We’re barely at the cusp of entering into a slightly less strict version of lockdown. Yes, schools are reopening, along with outdoor markets and car showrooms. And soon, all non-essential retailers will follow suit. But we’re still only just reemerging into a new version of normal life. Could it be better to wait a bit or not do it at all? Here’s the Master Removers lowdown.
Is it safer out of the city?
The answer is, yes and no. Of course, a rural compound of several acres or even a more humble detached cottage does mean more space between you and your fellows. But the data is, as yet, far from conclusive and there are drawbacks to be considered. For a start, local hospitals will have less capacity and your nearest one may not even have emergency facilities. And given how difficult delivery slots can be at present, you’ll have to grapple with just the same risks at supermarkets that city dwellers face. Still, it’s undeniable that the disease spreads more quickly where the population is clustered together. That’s why the history of pandemics is so tied to cities; think of TB, whooping cough, measles – they all flourished in places like London. But the picture in rural areas is mixed. Perhaps, in pre-industrial times, there really was something of a protective shield around the countryside. Today, if there can be said to be a shield, it’s a much more porous one.
Should I wait to move to the countrywide or do it now?
The dream of a life in greener pastures has, in the face of Covid-19, become all the more attractive. People trapped in global hotspots, confined to small properties when the same amount of money would get them something much larger in a rustic setting, are beginning to wonder whether the time to make the move has finally come. Some of the stats do bear this out. At the start of May, searches for countryside homes on Zoopla went up by almost 70 per cent compared to the figures for the start of March. There was a 126 per cent increase in searches for properties in Dartmouth, a 136 jump in searches for homes near Monmouth and a bump of almost 80 per cent for houses near Godalming, which enjoys swathes of Sussex countryside on its doorstep. Similar increases have occurred for the Isle of Wight and Cornwall. It looks as if plenty of Londoners have had enough of the urban lockdown experience and think that now – with removals companies resuming near-normal operations – is as good a time as any.
What are the drawbacks of moving to the countryside?
Nothing is 100 per cent good and there’s no such thing as perfect. As well as culture, nightlife, restaurants, frequent and easily-accessible public transport, you’ll also be saying goodbye to city-only apps like Uber, Uber Eats and Deliveroo, many of which have come in particularly useful in the face of the lifestyle restrictions of coronavirus lockdown. People making the move will also discover that while average property prices are lower, picturesque abodes in sought-after rural settings are not bargains. Also to be kept in mind is the fact that larger properties have larger running costs. And, once you make the move, if you should experience a change of heart, it may be difficult buying back into London.
Are lots of people moving to the countryside right now?
No necessarily. No one relishes the idea of finding themselves in competition with thousands of other buyers because there’s been a rush to get out of the city. Bear in mind that the bump in internet traffic relating to moving to the countryside may not lead to actual sales – people currently confined to cities could simply be indulging their fantasies and may well reacclimatise to city life once lockdown is a thing