GHD survey reveals 40% of people in UK are considering moving to a different location due to COVID-19 pandemic


Forty per cent of people in the UK are considering moving to a different location as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey by leading professional services company GHD. The proportion of those considering moving home was higher among people living in urban areas (51%) and city centres (48%) than those living in suburban (34%) and rural areas (28%).

The most popular reasons given for wanting to move were: 1) to get more space to make working from home easier; 2) to live in a cleaner air environment; 3) to have better local access to nature; and 4) to live in a more environmentally sustainable location.

The results showed that more respondents in the UK were considering moving than in any of the other countries surveyed, which were the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. GHD conducted the survey among over 8000 consumers in these six countries, of which 1,004 live in the UK, in order to gain insight into how changing attitudes and behaviours will shape the way we power our future, as part of its whitepaper The World of Energy Post-COVID.

Further highlights from the survey include:

  • Going forward, 34% anticipate an increase in home working following the pandemic; of these, 51% previously did not work at home at all
  • Proportion of shopping done online in the UK expected to increase from 30% pre-pandemic to 46% going forward (an increase of over 50%)
  • UK consumers expect to spend almost three hours more each day online compared to before the pandemic

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Tim Mawhood, executive director at GHD, said: “Consumer habits were changing and environmental consciousness growing long before the pandemic, but the global shutdown forced many of us to reflect more on our behaviours, social values and environmental footprint. This hiatus has put consumer demand for greener lifestyle choices into overdrive, and it is perhaps no surprise to learn that many, especially those currently living in urban areas, would consider moving home.

“At the beginning of 2021, some large cities experienced dips in population, demonstrating the extent to which changing work practices, and the prevalence of online shopping, are increasingly making location a choice for some, since proximity to workplaces and physical shops is now less of a consideration. Early signs already suggest that peri-urban areas are growing in popularity, as some turn their back on living in densely populated city centres in favour of local living.

“What is certain is that town and city leaders must ensure their regions have a long-term vision for living and operating sustainably in order to attract both businesses and residents. The list of large corporates with ambitious net zero carbon and ESG targets grows by the day, and these companies will want to locate their offices in areas that boast the sustainable infrastructure that will help them meet their ESG goals.

“Similarly, people will be increasingly drawn to areas that support their own personal efforts to live in a more sustainable way by promoting a circular economy; for instance, through the provision of reliable electric vehicle charging infrastructure, sustainable water supply and solar energy initiatives. Towns and cities that can communicate the sustainability programmes and targets they have in place, or intend to implement, will gain an economic and social competitive advantage over those which cannot. This increase in competition will, in turn, drive more innovation in this area, which will be very welcome and build positive momentum towards genuine sustainability outcomes.

“GHD is committed to working with local authorities to ensure that they have robust ESG strategies in place to attract the investment, skills and talent needed to boost economic growth. Those that do not prioritise investment in green technologies and infrastructure may well be left behind.”

GHD’s full whitepaper, entitled “The World of Energy Post-COVID: How changing attitudes and behaviours will shape the way we power our future”, can be found here.