Region luring buyers away from London and the south east
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 AeCreate.com, 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. co.uk