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One year on: Cornwall replaces London as most searched for place to live

  • One year on from ‘stay at home’ restrictions, Rightmove has analysed the key changes in where people want to live and the kind of homes they’re looking for:
    • Cornwall has knocked London off the top spot as the most searched for location for buyers on Rightmove, and Dorset has jumped from position 20 to position 10
    • Sellers of five bed detached homes have seen the biggest growth in the market, with sales agreed for this type of property up 38%, compared to 8% for all homes
    • Prospective buyers looking for a garden have hit a record and the term garage has been the most popular keyword used by home-hunters
    • More city dwellers are enquiring about properties outside the city; the biggest shift is in London where over half (52%) of Londoners are enquiring outside of London, up from 39% this time last year
    • For renters the two bed flat has been replaced by the two bed semi-detached house as people look for more space
    • Since the housing markets reopened across England, Wales and Scotland in May and June last year, Rightmove has recorded over 200 of its busiest ever days on site

It’s been almost a year since ‘stay at home’ restrictions came in nationally. We’ve analysed millions of data points to find out how staying at home and in their local areas has affected where people want to live, where they are moving to, and the kind of homes they’re now looking for.

Cornwall Calling

The county of Cornwall has overtaken London as the most searched for location for buyers on Rightmove with over five million searches in a month in February 2021, as people seek out beautiful countryside and coastal towns and villages to move to. Dorset has also jumped up the ranks from position 20 to position 10.

The lure of the countryside has in fact led to six of the top ten places seeing buyer searches increase the most over the past year being located in Cornwall and Devon, with searches for the village of Stithians in Cornwall up by a massive 224% on this time last year. When looking at the second half of 2020, annual sales agreed grew by 69% in rural areas, compared to 49% in urban areas as more people looked to escape to the country. 

The detached dream

Detached homes have proven to be the sweet spot in the market as people look to trade up for extra rooms, a garden, garage or perhaps space away from immediate neighbours. Looking by number of bedrooms, five bed detached homes have seen the biggest jump in sales being agreed, up by 38%, followed by four bed properties, up by 26%. This is also a likely result of the temporary stamp duty holiday savings being largest for more expensive homes.

Are buyers leaving cities?

There has been a shift in more people who currently live in a city enquiring about a property that is outside of that city. The biggest shift has been in London where this time last year 39% of Londoners were enquiring outside of London. This has jumped up to over half now (52%), and the trend is the same across all 10 of the biggest cities in the UK.

Renters trading up for space

A year ago the most sought after property type for tenants was a two bed flat, and this has been replaced by a two bed semi-detached house, due to the desire for more space and a garden. Asking rents over the past year vary dramatically, with double digit growth in some towns and suburbs, compared to double digit declines in areas of London.

Rightmove’s Director of Property Data Tim Bannister said: “The stand-out trends over the past year have been increased demand for countryside and coastal living, more people making the dream of a detached home a reality, and the increased appeal for a garden. The huge population of London means that traditionally it’s the most searched for location on Rightmove, but the appeal of the coast and the countryside over the past year has seen Cornwall crowned the new capital this year. More space has always been the most common reason for people moving home, but the evolution for many from balancing their laptop on the end of a bed last March to making an office a permanent addition to a home, whether that’s by converting a bedroom, garage or garden shed, has led to a need for even bigger homes than before. This is evident with five bed detached homes seeing the biggest growth in sales, and two bed homes becoming the most sought after for people renting.”

Agent’s View

Emma Ward, Director at Goundrys Estate Agents in Cornwall said: “It’s been an incredibly busy year as people rethink the types of homes they want to buy and where they want to live. Some are moving here to be closer to family while others are looking for a complete change in lifestyle. Detached homes, which are around the £500k-£700k mark here, have been flying off the shelves, we’ve none left! We need more sellers to come to market as there is such strong buyer demand for places with garages, gardens, office space and more.”

Properties in Cornwall:


Most searched for locations

Top locations in 2020 Top locations in 2021
London Cornwall
Cornwall London
Devon Devon
Bristol Bristol
Glasgow Glasgow
York Edinburgh
Edinburgh Sheffield
Sheffield York
Manchester Manchester
Cambridge Dorset


Biggest increases in buyer searches over the past year

Area Annual % increase
Stithians, Truro, Cornwall 224%
Polperro, Looe, Cornwall 203%
Braemar, Ballater, Aberdeenshire 189%
Isle Of Skye, Inverness-Shire 177%
Veryan, Truro, Cornwall 174%
Hayle, Cornwall 148%
Salcombe, Devon 143%
Happisburgh, Norwich, Norfolk 142%
Camber, Rye, East Sussex 138%
Bigbury On Sea, Kingsbridge, Devon 135%


Sales Agreed by property type

(Comparing the year of end of Feb 2020 – Feb 2021 with end of Feb 2019 – Feb 2020)

Property type % increase in
sales agreed in 2021
5 bed detached house 38%
4 bed detached house 26%
5 bed semi-detached house 24%
5 bed bungalow 22%
4 bed semi-detached house 20%
4 bed bungalow 20%
5 bed terraced house 17%
4 bed flat 15%
4 bed terraced house 14%
3 bed detached house 14%


Region Property type % increase in
sales agreed
South East 5 bed detached house 47%
East of England 5 bed detached house 46%
South West 5 bed detached house 44%
East Midlands 5 bed detached house 44%
North East 5 bed detached house 43%
Great Britain 5 bed detached house 38%
West Midlands 5 bed detached house 38%
North West 5 bed detached house 36%
Yorkshire and The Humber 5 bed detached house 32%
London 4 bed semi-detached house 26%
Wales 4 bed bungalow 12%
Scotland 5 bed detached house 6%


Buyers leaving cities

City they currently live in


% of enquiries inside the city

February 2021


% of enquiries inside the city

February 2020


% of enquiries outside the city

February 2021


% of enquiries outside the city

February 2020

Birmingham 52% 57% 48% 43%
Bristol 51% 62% 49% 38%
Edinburgh 41% 49% 59% 51%
Glasgow 58% 66% 42% 34%
Leeds 52% 59% 48% 41%
Liverpool 64% 61% 36% 29%
London 48% 61% 52% 39%
Manchester 42% 50% 58% 50%
Nottingham 55% 61% 45% 39%
Sheffield 60% 64% 40% 36%


Most sought after property types for renters

Most sought after property type

February 2021

 Most sought after property type

February 2020

Two bed semi-detached house Two bed flat
Two bed detached house One bed flat
Two bed terraced house Two bed terraced house
Two bed bungalow Three bed terraced house
Three bed semi-detached house Three bed semi-detached house