Cornwall has been bumped to the top of the list, leapfrogging London, on the most searched place on Rightmove for people to live.
However, this won’t come as a shock. In 2017, ONS statistics showed that Cornwall had the greatest net migration of any county in England and Wales.
Now, it is the village of Stithians, the place with the agricultural show to you and me, that has the most interest from prospective homeowners.
Potential buyers aren’t the only ones wanting to escape the city. In terms of business, working from home, or indeed out of cities, has become a more financially viable option. Shared office space company IWG detailed a heightened interest in those wanting offices in a rural area. With more and more people working from home, an arrangement for some set to last past the coronavirus restrictions, office space away from the city seems more financially viable and sustains the work-life balance.
But what does this mean for us?
As more and more people flood to the Duchy, young locals are priced out the market.
The average house price in Cornwall sits at around £300,000. The average wage, however, is at £28.8k, almost £10,000 less than the national average. With banks willing to lend around five times your salary, it seems almost impossible to get a house without having to rely on the salary of a partner, or from a parent contribution.
According to data from Legal & General, parents will contribute around £24,000 to help children get on the property ladder. The situation is dubbed as the ‘bank of mum and dad’, which doesn’t sit right with me. The associations of this suggest our generation rely on our parents to the extent that we are lazy, when in reality we are breaking our backs to try and save whatever money we can, whilst having to spend excessive amounts of money on rent and general living costs.
However, Cornwall Council has said creating affordable housing for local people is their priority. Local people are entitled to Section 106 discounted sales, which means that houses are sold between 50-80% of their market value. Section 106 agreements, which also apply to rented accommodation, make you prove your locality and/or local connection- either living or working in the area, or having close family who live there and are in need of support. Another eligibility requirement is that your household earns less than £80,000 per year… I don’t think that requirement will be a problem for many of us.
In all fairness, Cornwall is meeting its housing need after just completing the build of 1,000 homes as promised in 2017. Despite this, the rising house prices due to relocating city dwellers might see us having to rely on these schemes more heavily, especially as the government wants to move away from the era of renters.
As I write this, I am looking out the window of my housing association flat in Cornwall, staring at the ‘posh end’ of the estate where four/five-bedroom houses are being sold for almost £700,000- I bet they won’t have their recycling boxes nicked like I did last night! In fact, some of them are holiday homes. I try not to let myself get too upset about this, they are paying almost £4,000 a week to stay on a building site this summer whilst I’m off for an all-inclusive week in Tenerife for £500. However, the threat of Covid-19 has seen a huge rise in staycations, with Matt Hancock even booking his summer holiday to Cornwall. I am actually slightly worried I may develop a London accent this summer.
It’s not all bad, I suppose. I am extremely grateful to be able to live in the village I grew up in, but it seems this is the only route for people my age: renting, shared ownership, or section 106 sales. Basically, our housing market is free to be exploited by those with holes burning in their pockets, but the local people are forced to go through this route. Section 106 means that homes for locals will always be sold at less than market value, so if you were thinking of an investment or a profit, then think again. Without sounding snobby, I don’t want to live on an estate for the rest of my life, but the thought of being able to afford a house here otherwise is more of a dream than a reality.