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More People Than Ever are Choosing to Leave London and Hit the North

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    Unveiling the Reasons Behind the South-to-North Shift and Its Implications for London's Property Investment Market

    The capital of England and one of Europe’s most prominent cities, many people from across the UK and the world dream of one day living in London. In recent years, however, evidence suggests that many Londoners and those living in the capital are choosing to pack up and move up North.

    So what is the reason behind this shift from the South to the North, and what are the implications of this when it comes to the London property investment market? In this article, we investigate this trend and answer the question on Londoners’ and investors’ lips alike – is it time to leave London?

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      The Figures: How Many People are Leaving London?

      Just how many people are leaving London? According to the Office for National Statistics, figures show that 340,500 people moved from London in the 12 months leading up to June 2018. This was the largest recorded figure of London leavers since 2012. Figures like these mean that London is now England’s only region in which more people are leaving the area than they are arriving. Instead of new arrivals from other British cities, London now relies on those from overseas to maintain a steady population.

      Who is Leaving London?

      So now we know the statistics on the number of London leavers, let’s look at the demographics of the people that believe it’s time to leave London and head elsewhere.

      Out of the many people leaving London, a large proportion of these are young professionals. Figures show that many London boroughs have seen a decline in the number of 18-34 year olds living in the area over the last seven years, with Hammersmith and Fulham seeing the largest decrease of 5.39%. Manchester is one Northern hotspot which has seen a surge in the number of young people moving to the city. Since 2002, the young population of Manchester was said to have grown by 43,875 by 2017. In 2016, 4,150 people reportedly moved from London to Manchester, many of these likely to have been young professionals seeking new opportunities up North.

      Another group which are beginning to look away from the capital are young families, who are looking to start a new life for them and their family in different UK locations. Unlike young professionals who tend to continue city life in vibrant spots like Manchester and Liverpool, families are more likely to embrace more rural areas, and not necessarily those up North. More than half of those who moved to Hertfordshire districts Hertsmere and Broxbourne, for instance, were from London.

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      The Appeal of the North

      So why exactly do so many people decide that it’s time to leave London for the North? Compared to the South of England, the North definitely has a lot of appeal for those that seeking a change from their usual London lifestyle. Here are some of the most common factors that draw people to Northern UK cities.

      It’s no secret that London is an expensive city. From house prices and rental costs to smaller necessities like public transport, living in London can simply be too costly for many people. Young professionals in particular are finding it difficult to keep up with the expense of London living, which is why so many choose to instead move up North.

      The North of the UK is well known for its affordability when compared to London and other Southern cities. When comparing property prices in London and Liverpool, there’s a significant difference. According to Zoopla, Liverpool average asking prices stand at around £171,696, and in London, the average asking price just misses the £1 million mark, at £999,360. It isn’t just property prices that are more affordable, as there’s also a big contract between the cost to rent in Liverpool vs London. In London, Zoopla’s average for a one-bedroom flat is £1,918 pcm, while in Liverpool, the same property has an average of £548 pcm – more than half of that in the capital.

      Many young professionals who struggle to pay for a rental property in London are finally accepting that they can get more for their money in Northern cities such as Liverpool. Due to lower rental costs and overall living costs, young people who are interested in joining the property ladder are also finding it easier to save up money to eventually buy a home of their own – something impossible to achieve in London.

      While London may be considered one of the UK’s best spots for business, the North also has a lot to offer, and London leavers are taking note. Over recent years, many Northern cities have emerged as top UK business spots, offering a range of excellent employment opportunities.

      One particular city that’s celebrated for its business scene is Manchester. Home to the highly successful regeneration project, MediaCityUK in Salford Quays, Manchester regularly attracts herds of professionals looking for a chance to work for some huge UK names such as ITV.

      Of all the residents that moved to Manchester’s city centre from 2001 to 2011, almost 60% had a professional degree. A large number of Manchester young professionals are likely to be those who have decided it was time to leave London and explore employment options elsewhere. Not only does this city offer opportunities within MediaCityUK, but the entire city is filled with a range of big company names and smaller, more independent businesses, with sectors such as fast-fashion thriving thanks to huge brands like Manchester fashion name, Missguided.

      In an article published in the Independent, Sarah E Graham talks about her motives for leaving London. Aside from lack of affordability, Graham draws attention to another of the main driving forces behind leaving the capital – work-life balance.

      “While friends in London would repeatedly blow me off to work late, those outside the capital seemed to have exactly the kind of work-life balance that had driven me into self-employment in the first place.”

      – Sarah E Graham, the Independent

      London has a reputation as a hectic and fast-paced city, with long working hours and stressful commuter journeys. In smaller northern cities like Liverpool, young professionals are able to rent an apartment that’s within walking distance of their workplace for a fraction of the cost of renting a central London property. Because of the high demand for quality rental apartments in Liverpool, there are a number of new developments launching with luxurious state-of-the-art features. Parliament Square, for instance, is an upcoming development which will feature an onsite rooftop pool and spa for tenants to enjoy. Qualities like these highlight the better quality of life that London leavers can take advantage of when looking away from the capital.

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      How Has This Trend Impacted the UK Property Market?

      For investors who are torn between purchasing buy-to-let property in the capital or exploring alternative UK areas, this trend of people leaving London for a fresh start-up North suggests that property hotspot cities like Liverpool and Manchester have more to offer.

      Manchester city centre and its surrounding areas have seen a surge in properties under development. Between Manchester, Salford and Salford Quays, there are 15,000 new developments under construction. Key to this has been a substantial increase in demand for city-centre living; the city-centre population has grown by 700% since the turn of the century. With some huge regeneration projects also planned for Liverpool, such as the Liverpool Waters scheme, there’s still plenty of growth yet to come within this thriving region.

      With high demand from desirable tenants like young professionals, those who invest in property in the North West experience fewer void periods and higher rental yields. In contrast, those set on London investments are at risk of lower returns and a smaller market of desirable tenants.

      Properties at RWinvest offer yields of up to 8% paired with a high chance of capital appreciation. If you’re interested in finding out more about buy-to-let properties with RWinvest, please get in touch, and we can guide you through our current Liverpool and Manchester property investment opportunities in 2023.

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      Reece Pape

      Reece Pape is a property writer at RWinvest. Reece is passionate about keeping property investors updated on must-have information and housing market news, utilising the latest property market statistics and data.


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