House rents in Devon and Cornwall soar as City dwellers escape urban lockdowns for sea air

Cities such as Edinburgh, London and Manchester have seen rents plummet but south west seaside resorts of Exmouth, Falmouth and Torquay welcome influx of townies

By David Parsley inews.co.uk

City dwellers seeking to escape the claustrophobia of Covid-19 lockdowns in places like Edinburgh, London and Manchester have caused rents to rocket in Devon and Cornwall as they seek the space and fresh air of the South West of England.

According to property portal Rightmove, while asking rents in the UK’s biggest cities plummeted 12 per cent during 2020, rents in towns and villages of Devon and Cornwall have risen by as much as 7 per cent as tenants use working from home instructions as an opportunity to ride out the pandemic in one to the UK’s most popular tourist spots.

As rents in London slumped by 12.4 per cent last year, they rocketed by 7.3 per cent in the Cornish town of St Austell. Rents in Edinburgh and Manchester saw falls of 10 per cent and 5.3 per cent, but tenants had to pay almost 7 per cent more in Devon’s Torquay and Cornwall’s Falmouth.

Working from home by the sea

Other areas in the two counties experiencing strong rent rises include Exmouth, where tenants now have to pay 6.3 per cent more than a year ago to live by the sea, Plymouth (5.9 per cent), and Exeter (3 per cent more).

Caroline Hill, a partner-C&J Home Rentals in Exmouth, said: “The demand for rental properties in Exmouth is huge at present. Rental prices remain at the highest level I have seen in ten years of being in business with currently no signs of decreasing.

“It’s easy to see why so many people are moving out of the cities and choosing to move down to beautiful Exmouth, when it has so much to offer. We have a stunning coastline with our two-mile-long sandy beach, a new water sports centre, excellent sailing, and I am especially excited about the imminent opening of Michelin Star chef Michael Caines’ new venture Mickey’s Beach Bar, Restaurant and cafe. This will be a welcome addition to Michael’s fabulous restaurant at Lympstone Manor, just minutes away from Exmouth.”

Rightmove said the pandemic led to falling asking rents and a flood of properties coming into the market in a number of the UK’s biggest city centres, as some tenants rethink where they want to live.

More tenants seeking the seaside views and country walks has also led to a large jump in the number of properties available for rent in these city centres.

City rental stocks rises as tenant flock to the country

Tim Bannister, director of property data at Rightmove, said: “A number of areas of the South West saw a jump in demand in 2020 as people looked to move to areas with more green space and areas by the seaside, and this has helped to support and increase rents.

“In contrast to some of the big city centres where stock is much higher than before, a number of towns in Cornwall and Devon have seen available stock drop annually because of the increased demand from tenants and how quickly the places are getting snapped up.”

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves in London, added: “With Covid continuing to pose a problem on an ongoing basis, many tenants simply aren’t committing to the high cost of renting in central London. This has been largely driven by the fact that many can now work remotely but this isn’t the only reason. Living in central London is as much about the social aspect, as it is about the convenient commute, and at present, the vast majority of the capital remains closed for business.”

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