When we move house, what are we really looking for… is it a place to live or a place to work, a house or a community, a home or a lifestyle? It’s probably all these things and more.
Gary Bosworth and Robert Newbery, Professors of Entrepreneurship at Northumbria University, are working with partners at the University of East Anglia and the University of Lincoln as well as Watsons and George F White property consultants to investigate how changing migration choices are influencing rural communities. Analysis of data from the past decade shows that rural areas which attract new residents in their 20s and 30s also see more business start-ups. This suggests that the recent growth in demand for rural living and new ways of working in the wake of the Covid pandemic might launch a new wave of rural businesses – but which areas are best placed to benefit? The research seeks to understand what makes different rural places attractive and how we make housing choices from the information available to us.
So called “counterurbanisation”, the movement of people from cities to rural areas, has been part of the UK housing market since the middle of the last century. In other countries, the lure of rural living has ebbed and flowed but here in the UK it has been a continuing trend. The countryside holds a particular place in British culture. We cherish the timeless landscapes, natural beauty and traditional virtues of rural community life but can this romantic vison of the countryside also offer a dynamic location for new businesses?
The attractiveness of living in the country has increased commuting, increased rural house-building and pushed up rural house prices in many of the more accessible and picturesque rural areas, but the impact of population growth for local economies has been mixed. In rural Britain today we have some of the wealthiest and some of the poorest people. We have well-connected, well-served communities with diverse business populations but also internet “not-spots”, pockets of hidden deprivation and villages and towns that are losing their business centres.
Understanding the needs of rural communities and their businesses is a key priority as the nation emerges from the worst impacts of Covid-19. So, if you are thinking of moving house, or you have moved within the last year, you can assist in this ground-breaking research by completing a survey designed to help you think about what you really want from your new home. It should take about 10 minutes and you can complete it here.
You can respond anonymously to the survey and the project is being run independently by Professor Gary Bosworth at the University of Northumbria.