Re­gion lur­ing buy­ers away from Lon­don and the south east

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Ed­ward Stoyle

I NEVER ac­tu­ally made the de­ci­sion to move from Lon­don to York­shire – my wife did that for me.

We were walk­ing on the North Downs when Suzie, then a few weeks preg­nant, an­nounced we were off up north, where she had fam­ily.

We had reached a cross­roads in our lives and the prospect of swap­ping a two-bed­room flat in Put­ney for a four-bed­room house in York­shire had a strong ap­peal. It was the best thing we’ve ever done.

What do we like? Friendly peo­ple and the com­bi­na­tion of buzzy towns and cities with in­cred­i­bly easy ac­cess to beau­ti­ful coun­try­side. In fact, get­ting around gen­er­ally is so much eas­ier than in the South East, where the roads are jammed and com­mut­ing a night­mare.

There’s hardly a thing we don’t like. As for re­grets, we have none at all. We cer­tainly wouldn’t go back to Lon­don in a hurry.

We were pretty typ­i­cal of the young fam­i­lies that move to York­shire from the South. There’s of­ten an ex­ist­ing link, be it univer­sity, fam­ily or hol­i­days. Add to that soar­ing Lon­don prices, good schools and the lure of a bet­ter qual­ity of life and you can see why this mi­gra­tion looks like be­com­ing a stam­pede.

Some Lon­don pro­fes­sional firms even en­cour­age it and are keen to re­tain their best staff, who can work from home in York­shire and com­mute to the cap­i­tal once or twice a week.

The other movers are the oldies, who are of­ten com­fort­ably off, re­tired and mort­gage-free. They can sell well in the South, buy a house in the North and still be sit­ting on a nest egg for years to come. Some look at the ru­ral vil­lages but more are tak­ing the longer-term view and want good fa­cil­i­ties. York, Har­ro­gate, Ilk­ley and Helm­s­ley are par­tic­u­lar favourites. The rea­son th­ese towns are pop­u­lar is be­cause there are plenty of ameni­ties to hand. The­atres, cine­mas and con­certs are a short stroll away.

It’s highly con­ve­nient and very so­cia­ble, af­ter all par­ty­ing’s not a prob­lem when you’re on foot.

All this ac­tiv­ity has cre­ated prop­erty hotspots. Ex­cel­lent schools, ameni­ties and trans­port have pro­pelled the cen­tral York mar­ket to na­tional promi­nence over the past year. Prices are ris­ing here at around eight per cent year on year, mak­ing it the strong­est per­former in the north of Eng­land. The pick of the pe­riod houses are fly­ing off the books, of­ten at the ask­ing prices.

Jen­nifer Hall, a tax man­ager, left Lon­don for York­shire in Au­gust, af­ter ten years in the cap­i­tal. She has no re­grets and says: “I grew up in Bev­er­ley but the fact that I could get a job with ca­reer prospects in Leeds made the move pos­si­ble. It was my am­bi­tion to re­turn and it was al­ways go­ing to be the cen­tre of York, as it’s a beau­ti­ful city with lots go­ing on. Ev­ery­one is su­per­friendly. I love Bet­tys and the fact I can buy fresh eggs from my lo­cal pub, The Golden Ball. I am just so happy.”

Andy Evans, of TV and film com­pany, moved his fam­ily up from Bar­net to the vil­lage of Acaster Mal­bis in Fe­bru­ary. He and his wife Kristy yearned to get out of the rat race and didn’t want their two young chil­dren to go to school in Lon­don.

He too is happy with the move to York­shire and says: “We looked care­fully at other places, in­clud­ing Manch­ester, but York­shire of­fered the best op­por­tu­ni­ties to down­grade on price and up­grade on prop­erty. The rail con­nec­tion was cru­cial, as I still do a lot of busi­ness down there. If I take the fast train it’s only two hours door to door.

“Lon­don can be a lonely place but we’ve made more friends in eight months up here than we had af­ter 17 years in Lon­don. The only thing I don’t like is the cost of the train tick­ets”.

Is this all just a flash in the pan or shall we con­tinue to see a South-North drift? I can only see it get­ting stronger, as word spreads about just how good York­shire is.

Ed­ward Stoyle is res­i­den­tial part­ner at the York of­fice of Carter Jonas, www.carter­jonas.

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