In recent months, there’s been a huge increase in buyers looking to leave big towns and cities and relocate to the countryside in response to the pandemic. In fact, recent research by Rightmove found areas with populations of under 11,000 people saw the biggest rise in buyer searches in September. But, whether or not an escape to the country could be right for you, there are some important factors to bear in mind first.

Know your budget when relocating

If you’re selling a property in a desirable part of a city, you may assume you’ll be able to afford something significantly larger if you relocate. But before you start looking, it’s essential that you have a realistic idea of what kind of property your money will get you.

Firstly, you should find out how much you can expect to sell your current home for. Get in touch with some local estate agents and they’ll be able to value your property. This bit is really important! If you’re home is overvalued, it could be on the market for a while. If it’s undervalued, you could sell below market value. You should have a few different estate agents value your house to get a good idea of how much your home is worth.

And it’s crucial to know much you’ll be able to borrow too. Speaking to a mortgage adviser is a quick and easy way to find out how much you can borrow from a wide range of lenders. Once you’re armed with your facts and figures, you can start house-hunting.

Research is key

If you’ve lived in a big town or city during the lockdown(s), you may have yearned to move to the countryside; especially if your home didn’t have any outside space! And while moving away from city living can offer more space, maybe even at a cheaper price, it’s equally important to consider whether your move will involve a major lifestyle change too, e.g. like moving from a city to somewhere rural.

Try to spend as much time as possible in the area you’re considering to get a feel for what life would be like living there. It’s important to research the practicalities like schools, and the daily commute to work (if you’re not working from home), as well as other amenities you’re used to having on your doorstep, whether that’s bars and restaurants or a gym. If your chosen new location doesn’t have these nearby, consider how important that is to you when weighing up your move.

Consider your priorities

If you’re working from home at the moment, like so many of us are, then you’ve probably wrangled for a quiet space in your home to get everything done. For those living in a small house or flat in the middle of a city, things may have gotten a bit too close for comfort! 
You may then need to take into consideration other priorities when buying your home, like a house with a study (or the space for one). It’s likely that our ‘new normal’ may involve some working from home for the foreseeable, so if it’s important to you that you have your own office space, make sure to bear it in mind when house-hunting.

Future-proof your move

While you may be working from home right now, when looking at relocating it’s important to ensure the move will work for you in the long term. Have a think about how you will manage if you’ll need to work back at a physical premises again in the future. Is the commute from the new location manageable? Will you be able to afford season tickets for trains, buses or trams? Make sure you’ve covered all your bases for anywhere you decide to relocate now, so you don’t get caught out later.

Get the whole picture when relocating

It’s important to consider that when buying a new home (particularly if you’re buying a larger home) that you ensure you can manage all the costs associated with it. For example, if you’re selling a two-bed flat and buying a four-bed detached home you may find your new council tax bill is significantly higher. Similarly, consider the impact running a larger home will have on your utility bills. Always take the big picture into consideration!

If you want to take a look at how much your new home will cost to run, Zoopla lists estimated running costs on its property listings, but do remember that these are just a guide.

Important information

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

There may be a fee for mortgage advice. The actual amount you pay will depend on your circumstances. The fee is up to 1% but a typical fee is 0.3% of the amount borrowed.