The village of the future

Posted 15 June 2016 by Helen Christie

Research from Strutt & Parker’s ‘Housing Futures – The Village Revival’ has revealed creeping trends and highlighted new demographic tribes...

The village revival trend is based on the findings from Strutt & Parker’s Housing Futures: The Village Revival survey and highlights a growing and perhaps surprising trend in people’s desire to move back to rural locations. 21% of the survey’s 2,600 respondents who are moving home said they wanted to live in a village.

Strutt & Parker’s Housing Futures survey has identified four factors that are shaping the village revival:

  • 21% of survey respondents who are moving home said that they wanted to live in a village, making it easily the most popular type of location, compared to 14% for a market town and only 12% for either a big city or a suburb.
  • Broadband and mobile connections are essential to rural life. Access to broadband was a key factor for 49% of those intending to move to a village, while 38% highlighted mobile connectivity. Stephanie McMahon, head of research at Strutt & Parker says: “The expansion of broadband and mobile communications has seen a greater uptake of working from home in rural locations compared to urban areas. It seems that the same factors that once drove urbanisation – improving economic and social conditions – are now inspiring the village revival.”
  • We saw a significant increase in respondents looking for rental accommodation. 10% of those wanting to move to a village would live in a professionally managed private rental unit, up from 1% in 2013.
  • Ease of access is an important issue for respondents intending to move to a village, with 60% wanting to be able to walk to shops, 48% to local transport and 45% to medical facilities.

Of those surveyed, a new build home was the most popular choice for a future home, beating both cottages and period homes.

The research shows that the face of the modern village is changing thanks to new demographic groups which are shaping rural life. Through speaking with industry experts and conducting an extensive survey with 2,600 respondents, Strutt & Parker has uncovered some interesting housing personas that are growing in the UK and could be moving to a village near you. Stephanie McMahon says: “The face of the modern village is changing as new demographic groups play key roles in shaping the future of rural life.”

Meet the new tribes...

The Downtons

The Downtons are an influential family with substantial income living in the grandest village house. While the most prestigious house in the village would once have been owned by the local squire, many of these properties have now been acquired by buyers using property equity to purchase a rural idyll.

Elderflowers

These are healthy and active retirees who have assets, including their own home and pension income. Born after the Second World War, the Elderflowers have benefitted from sustained economic growth and are now the largest demographic in the UK. Elderflowers have either lived in the village all their lives or are empty nesters looking to move into a village house that suits their changing needs.

Rusticarians

Rusticarians are entrepreneurs and creatives who can bring dynamism to the village economy. These diverse countryside dwellers embrace new approaches to work and lifestyle. For example, rural areas have the highest rate of homeworkers – 33% compared to 12% in urban areas. Technology is key to this group, with 49% of those intending to move to a village citing broadband as the key motivation for moving, up from 41% in 2014.

Rubies (or Rural Newbies)

Rubies are families who are keen to move to a village location to raise their children. This group of predominantly younger families supports the local school, uses community facilities for classes and leisure facilities, and sustains local shops.

The Onesies

These are are single-person households which are growing across all age groups in the UK at a rate ten times faster than the general population. About 3.8 million older people are sole occupiers and 70% of these are women.

John McLarty, head of planning at Strutt & Parker, says: “Affordability of housing is a well-documented issue but much of the media coverage on the topic tends to focus around London. In fact, the situation in some rural locations is just as concerning. Rubies are particularly exposed to this. In England, 59% of those aged 25-34 owned their own home in 2003/4 and 10 years later this figure was just 36%. The good news is that Help to Buy is having a positive impact on this tribe.

“The 21st century village is not the quaint place of yesterday. It is absolutely crucial that our villages adapt to a future that includes flexible live/work space and upgraded infrastructure. Housing provision in rural locations must also diversify to include adequate levels of rental properties, modern retirement homes and healthy living spaces."


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