Empowering the Freelance Economy

Suburbs or Country Village – which will give you more bang for your buck?

House prices over the past 12 months in Kingston Upon Thames settled around £630,623, which was over a 10% surge from the previous year. Photo Credit: Robert Cook
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  • UK average house prices increased by 8.5% over the year to December 2020, up from 7.1% in November 2020, to stand at a record high of £252,000; this is the highest annual growth rate the UK has seen since October 2014 (latest ONS/Land Registry House Price Index)
  • The North West was the English region to see the highest annual growth in average house prices (11.2%), while London saw the lowest (3.5%)

Now that companies have had to opt for the working-from-home model over the pandemic many are now are offering employees and to a larger extent, their freelancers and contractors remote-work options or a hybrid model where commuting to the office is optional to just a couple times a week. Freelancers are all too happy to avoid the commute to the office and are looking to leave city life for good. Goodbye cramped city accommodation!

Many people have left major cities and opted to move to suburban or rural areas within commuting distance so that they can create a dream home office and have ample green outdoor space to roam on lunch breaks and on the weekends. But the longer they wait to move out of the big smoke the more it could cost them now that there has been a surge in house prices across the UK. The Freelance Informer has found, however, that some commuter belt towns have actually seen a drop in house prices since the pandemic hit, which could mean there is still room for negotiation.

Some commuter towns such as Surbiton in Surrey have seen prices for a semi-detached house go up £20,000 in the past 12 months, valuing on average £618,0557 at the time of writing. According to property site Zoopla, a move across the Thames to the more expensive and leafy town of Teddington could actually give you more negotiating power since prices have surprisingly dropped 20 per cent since the pandemic hit with the average price of a semi costing on average £1,033,415, down more than £31,662. Brentwood in Essex on the other hand saw sales double over the past six months, according to Zoopla.    

City property hotspots for freelancers

If you want to avoid London property prices yet still want to live in a city then Manchester offers plenty of opportunities for freelancers, with the highest number of freelancers advertising outside of the capital city and a wealth of startups in the area, according to a Money Super Market report. Reasonable housing costs and plenty of WiFi hotspots make the city an ideal home for freelancers.

The most populous seaside resort in the UK, Brighton & Hove is a lively coastal city with plenty to offer for freelancers. The city has one of the highest numbers of startups in the UK per capita and boasts excellent life satisfaction levels. Edinburgh and Belfast are other options to consider.

Looking for suburbs and countryside market towns outside these cities could give you even more for your money in terms of space and country air. For example, Haworth, Rivington and Worsley, to name a few. Check out this unique four-bedroom church investment property for sale in Worsley village with a guide price of £375,000.

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Country property hotspots for freelancers

Country hotspots are continuing to outperform cities when it comes to rising house prices, with Worcester, North East Derbyshire, Merton and South Oxfordshire seeing the highest price growth on a local scale, according to estate agents Jackson-Stops.

“This chimes with what our branches are reporting on the ground, as buyers continue to head to the quintessential English countryside in search of a better life post-pandemic,” said Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops.

This has impacted what buyers are looking for from their property searches, with 50% now referencing proximity to a local village pub as their number one priority. The estate agent reported that in a targeted social media poll respondents also considered a village green, local church/community hall and village shop to be important criteria. But the ability to have a roomy and dedicated home office over a desk shoved in the corner of a spare bedroom has been paramount for those making a move to the suburbs or countryside.

More rural locations over an hour from the UK’s major employment hubs continue to out-perform the rest of the UK – with Richmondshire, the Derbyshire Dales and Winchester topping the charts for price growth, according to Leeming.

“This reflects a growing trend of would-be commuters moving further out to get more bang for their buck,” said Leeming.
 
“On a regional level, the North West registered the highest house price growth at just over 11%. Our branches in this part of the country witnessed an exceptionally busy Q4 2020 which undoubtedly put upward pressure on prices.
 
“Despite an untraditionally busy winter, we expect demand to hold steady throughout spring and summer,” he said.
 

  

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