Last year, Countrywide recorded a 10-year high of 65,000 renters quitting the capital. But they’re no longer leaving to become first-time buyers…

The UK’s largest estate agency group, Countrywide, which has been recording tenant movement since 2007, has revealed that the highest number of people in the private rented sector (PRS) to move out of London in the last 10 years was seen over the past 12 months.

But while 10 years ago more people left the capital in order to become first-time buyers in more affordable locations, in 2017 more than three quarters (78%) moved away to another rental property, suggesting a major shift in the market.

Generation rent

Johnny Morris, research director at Countrywide, said: “For people in their 30s, leaving London is something of a rite of passage. But as the number of those renting has grown, the move out of London is increasingly likely to be in the rental market.

“A decade ago most tenants moving out of the capital did so to buy. But since 2007 leaving London to carry on renting somewhere else has become more typical.”

Increasing numbers of PRS tenants are moving from London to the north of England, with 48% of all the people who continued to rent elsewhere moving up north, which is 17% higher than the numbers seen 10 years ago. However, many are also still choosing to stay relatively close to the capital when they move out, with places such as Slough, Thurrock and Broxbourne housing the highest number of ex-Londoners.

Double the space

According to Savills, people who do decide to leave London to buy elsewhere, rather than rent, can afford double the space in more than 70% of local authorities outside of the capital. While in London you spend an average of £607 per square foot of property space, you get four times as much for your money in 29 local authorities in the north of England, eight local authorities in Wales and five in the Midlands.

Lucian Cook, director of residential research at Savills, said: “This really shows the extent to which London has pulled away completely from the rest of the country, even from some of the markets in its immediate hinterland.”

He added: “There is only so far you can stretch the elastic between London and the rest of the country before people start thinking London is looking fully priced or there is much better value to be had elsewhere.”