The top 10 most popular towns to live in the UK

Kalila Sangster
Castle Combe in the Fall, Wiltshire, England
Coastal and rural areas saw the biggest jump in buyer searches in 2020, according to new data from Rightmove. Photo: Getty

Coastal and rural areas saw the biggest jump in buyer searches in 2020, according to new data from Rightmove.

The most popular place to live in the UK this year was the Somerset town of Bruton, which saw the biggest increase in buyers searching for places to move to, according to Rightmove.

The picturesque countryside town experienced a 72% rise in annual buyer searches this year. The spot is close to where Sarah Beeny is building a home in Channel 4’s ‘Sarah Beeny’s New Life in the Country.’

The second most popular place to live in 2020 is Pitlochry in Scotland, where buyer searches have increased by 50% compared to 2019.

At number three is Aylesford in Kent with a 48% increase in buyer searches, followed by the Devon beach town of Salcombe at number four with a 47% increase.

Lightwater in surrey came in fifth place, along with tourist destination Dartmouth in Devon, both with 46% growth in buyer searches.

READ MORE:20 countries where house prices rose most in 2020

Henfield, West Sussex, Sturminster Newton in Dorset, Hayling Island, Hampshire, and Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire all experienced a 39% rise in buyer searches in 2020.

The rural and coastal areas featured in the top 10 mirror a wider national trend of home-movers looking to relocate to more remote destinations in 2020.

People spending more time at home during lockdown due to COVID-19 has resulted in house-hunters seeking a better work-life balance and properties with access to outdoor green spaces. The shift towards remote working has also meant employees do not necessarily need to be in the same city as their company.

Rightmove
Photo: Rightmove

The UK’s top rental hotspots that have seen the biggest annual increases in rental searches are Cambridge, with a 34% rise, Stockport (31%), and Rye (27%).

The top five local markets with the biggest year-on-year growth in sales agreed are Welwyn in Hertfordshire (75%), Woodbridge, Suffolk (69%), Llanelli, Wales (65%), Stockbridge, Hampshire (60%), and Malmesbury, Wiltshire (54%).

Seven of the top 10 areas with the biggest increases in sales agreed over the past year have populations under 10,000 — further highlighting the popularity of rural locations.

READ MORE:The UK cities where property values have risen the most

Eccles, located west of Manchester, is the town with the biggest annual increase in average asking prices in the UK in 2020 — up 16%. Average asking prices have risen from £184,299 in 2019 to £213,706.

The national average increase is 6.6%.

Six other locations across Greater Manchester and Merseyside feature in the top 10 towns where property price rose the most in 2020, with Wavertree (12.2%) and Chadderton (10.9%) taking second and third places respectively.

Rightmove
Photo: Rightmove

Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister said: “This year we’ve seen an uplift in the number of home-movers escaping to the country and we think this trend will continue for now as people show their willingness to make significant life changes.

“The data highlights just how influential the unexpected events of this year have been in shaping the nation’s housing priorities, with many buyers determined to swap city streets for rural and coastal retreats.”

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Glynis Frew, CEO of Hunters Estate Agents, said: “2020 has given many people time to reset and reprioritise, with a focus on lifestyle. From a better work-life balance to the need for outside space, we have a renewed sense of what matters to us.

“For some, this means finally making that dream rural or coastal move, safe in the knowledge that they can work remotely for the majority of the time while coming into the office a few times a month. For those in certain digital-led industries, the possibilities are almost limitless — a good Wi-Fi connection is all they need.”

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