2020 has been a year like none other in living memory. The global pandemic has wrought massive changes. The world we live in now has changed beyond all recognition. For those fortunate enough to still be in gainful employment the world of the traditional workplace is no more. The facilities we once took for granted that kept us entertained, amused, and fed are no longer necessarily there for us.
Considering all this many are now re-evaluating their lifestyle choices and priorities. For many this has been the trigger for pressing the ‘reset’ button, taking a step back and deciding what is important in their lives. The starkness of the global environment has provided a reality check and a reassessment opportunity.
One thing that has become apparent is there is now a huge movement of people worldwide. Many are seizing the opportunity to relocate for a variety of reasons. This is not just restricted to the UK. At one point in the pandemic over 1,000 Americans, a day were moving to Florida to set up residence.
The reasons for the exodus tend to fall into one of two categories. People are either moving away from something, whether being actively pushed by a situation or distancing themselves from something now seen as undesirable. Or people are moving towards something seen as more desirable or aspirational for them and their families.
1. The lost charm of the big city
A recent BBC article by their reporter Natalie Sharman in New York has headlined: ‘New York is not dead, but it is on life support. Many of the small businesses, entertainment and food venues that made this the city that never sleeps’ have closed now, some possibly for good. As a result, there is less of a vibrant ambience. One of the things people thought they wanted when moving to the city is no longer there.
This phenomenon is not restricted to the USA. A recent careers advisory service in London found that 51% of registered people wanted to move out of London as opposed to 20% the previous year. In London too as remote working has increased so the businesses and venues that depended on regular office worker footfall for their livelihood have fallen away. This shift away from the centralised office is a rapid acceleration of a trend that was already in place and is unlikely to reverse in any significant amount. As the CIO of a multinational recently stated “geography is irrelevant”.
This is driving large numbers away from big cities. The allure and facilities are no longer there so there is no reason to buy property in a large city centre any longer.
2. Spacious suburban and rural homes
Our first point referenced the fact of an ultimately mobile workforce. The ability to work remotely means that you no longer need to pay big-city housing prices, food, and transport costs to command big-city wages.
In this post-pandemic world, it is not where you work, but how you live that matters more. Why would you want to live in a cramped studio flat in a metropolitan centre when you can live on a Spanish beachfront villa and still do the same work for the same organisation? A spokesman from the Spanish property specialist has said there has been a 40% increase in enquiries from UK residents looking for a property in Costa Blanca.
Young families and others are discovering that it is finally possible to get a true work/life balance. That they can provide themselves room to grow, space to enjoy life and still maintain, at the very least, their current lifestyle.
This is one of the ‘pull’ factors where people are looking at what they currently have and realising that they can have more. It is all there for the taking.
3. Cost of living
Not only is it viable to upscale property size and quality by moving out of the UK to a destination like Spain but it can also be a lot cheaper to live.
According to the site Numbeo the average cost of living in Spain is 18.2% lower than in the UK. As part of their lifestyle evaluation, many people are crunching the numbers and discovering that life outside the UK can provide them with not only more space but more discretionary spend left of their income at the end of the day.
For some, the reduced cost of living and more affordable properties provide them with the only realistic scenario they can envisage to become homeowners. A first step on the property ladder has become more and more out of reach for young people in Britain today. Now that it is possible to move abroad with an existing job and to move to a more affordable country more and more young families are taking up the opportunity.
Several European countries are offering schemes to actively attract people to relocate. Sometimes with the inventive of extremely cheap properties, the availability of subsidies for renovations or both.
The security of owning a home has proved to be an extremely attractive pull for a significant number of UK residents to up sticks and relocate.
5. Quality of life
The final attraction of buying and moving abroad is a combination of some of the factors above and many more.
In the final analysis, the quality of life that one enjoys is of paramount importance. Life quality is measured on several things, including, but not restricted to:
- Health care
- Recreational facilities
- Community involvement
- Local economy and employment opportunities
One of the most common destinations of choice for the British ex-pat is Spain and for particularly good reason. Looking at the example of Javea and its write up on ValuVillas this town has an average of 320 days of sunshine a year, a beautiful sea breeze and a moderate climate. Spain has a health care system internationally recognised as excellent. There are multiple, international schools. The community is a diverse mix of Spanish citizens, British, Scandinavian and German ex-pats. There are numerous clubs and entertainment opportunities. Spanish seafront cuisine is both healthy and delicious. An HSBC survey showed ex-pats in Spain have an average employment rate of 88% compared with 78% for ex-pats in general so there are plenty of active members of the community.
All things told, now is a very good time to reflect upon life and examine whether it could be better lived in the surroundings of your choice rather than where one has been by habit or for reasons of work.