It’s not just Cornwall and the Cotswolds: These little-known towns and villages have become popular rural retreats during the pandemic
Moving to the country became every city-dweller’s daydream during Covid, with some 700,000 people quitting London for the good life.
Cornwall, the most searched for place on Rightmove, was a favourite destination, while searches for the Cotswolds more than doubled.
Yet it wasn’t just these two expensive destinations that saw their popularity soar.
Escape to the country: Llangollen on the River Dee in Denbighshire, North Wales, is popular with tourists
Estate agents Hamptons discovered four relatively anonymous regions which, due to Covid, have become property hotspots, recording staggering price increases for 2020-2021.
In demand Daventry: Price growth 17 per cent
Although a pleasant market town, it’s unlikely anyone would describe Daventry, in West Northamptonshire, as a ‘beauty’. Could Hamptons have been mistaken when they named it the No 1 hotspot?
‘Absolutely not,’ says Natasha Cawsey, of Laurence Tremayne estate agents. ‘Our figures show growth of about 30 per cent in the past 18 months.
‘Daventry has good amenities, yet prices are well below those in neighbouring Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.’
The villages outside Daventry are also an attraction. Braunston, on the hill above the two canals, has a busy marina and Everdon is lovely.
‘These gorgeous villages are 30 per cent cheaper than the Cotswolds,’ says property search agent Jonathan Harrington. ‘They have excellent communications, making them ideal for people who work from home.’
Desired Denbighshire: Price growth 15 per cent
The remarkable price growth in Denbighshire, a low-profile county in North Wales extending inland from the Irish Sea, is largely down to Covid.
‘Nearly all my buyers in the past 18 months have been southerners in search of open space,’ says Mark Gilbertson of Fine & Country.
‘They can walk out of their doors here and meet nobody, which makes them feel safe.’
Ruthin has been described as ‘the most charming small town in Wales’ by National Trust chairman Simon Jenkins.
Llangollen, with its colourful craft on the canal and River Dee, is popular with tourists.
Denbighshire has become so popular, according to Gilbertson, that some wealthy buyers hire helicopters in their rush to view homes like this.
Rutland rockets: Price growth 14 per cent
It may be England’s smallest county, tucked away in the East Midlands, but Rutland’s property prices have boomed since the lockdowns.
‘Lots of our buyers have looked first in the Cotswolds,’ says Jan von Draczek, of Fine & Country estate agents.
‘Finding nothing suitable for sale they spread their nets wider and discover Rutland.’
Rutland Water, the largest reservoir in England, is a popular with bird watchers and used for watersports and fishing.
Rutland Water, the largest reservoir in England, is a popular with bird watchers and used for watersports and fishing
Villages are speckled with stone cottages under roofs of collyweston slate.
Barrowden, with its Grade II-listed church, is charming while Exton with its green overlooked by the Fox & Hounds pub is pure chocolate box.
Much of Rutland is within easy reach of Peterborough, 50 minutes from King’s Cross.
Vale of Glamorgan value: Price growth 14 per cent
Drive west along the M4 and you won’t find a signpost for the Vale of Glamorgan, yet this strip of land to the west of Cardiff has seen the most dramatic property price appreciation in Wales.
‘The Vale has always been home for businessmen based in Cardiff,’ says Robert Calcaterra, of HRT estate agents. ‘Now we are also getting incomers from London who snap up the £1 million-plus homes.’
Cowbridge — with its hotel, The Bear, where Tom Jones stops for a pint when he is home — oozes affluence and nearby you find pretty villages like Bonvilston, St Hilary and Llantwit Major before you hit the beautiful Heritage Coast.
Be warned: 70 per cent of homes advertised are under offer in this booming market.
On the market… and in demand
Glamorgan: This development of two, three, four and five bedroom homes is in Bonvilston. Homes are open plan and modern with large windows. Acorn, 01446 489 407. £310,000
Denbighshire: Ysgubor Newydd has four bedrooms and is in the village of Graigfechan Ruthin. There is a large garden with an outdoor terrace. Strutt and Parker, 01244 456 824. £599,950
Rutland: There are three bedrooms in this yellow stone property in Barrowden. The kitchen is in a glass extension overlooking the garden. Fine and Country, 01780 750 200. £695,500