‘I’m being pushed out of my village’: why the under-25s are ditching the countryside
Isolation, bad internet and high house prices have meant three in five rural young people plan to ditch the countryside within the next five years.
The lack of genuinely affordable housing was the biggest reason why the under-25s were disillusioned with the rural life. Only 43pc expected to stay there, according to new research from CPRE, a charity.
Of those who planned to move, 84pc said that loneliness was a factor – due to limited public transport and the difficulty of connecting with friends online. More than three-quarters (76pc) who plan to leave cited poor digital connectivity. CPRE warned that the Government’s levelling up agenda would come too late for rural youngsters.
In the national online survey of 16 to 25-year-olds living in rural areas, 72pc said that the soaring cost of housing was their biggest concern and only one in five felt positive about the future.
Freya Davies, 18, from Northamptonshire, where she is a parish councillor and a member of the Youth Crime Commission, said: “There is no way I’ll be able to afford to stay in the village when I want to move out.”
Rising house prices will force young people and families out of where they grew up leaving only an ageing rural population, she said.
“Very often new houses are labelled ‘affordable’ but they just say that it’s affordable when it isn’t,” Ms Davies said. “It’s just really hurtful, I put a lot into the village and I’m being pushed out.
Official data showed rural areas recorded the largest spikes in house price growth in the country. In the year to July 2021, values in the rural local authorities of North Devon in the South West, the Vale of Glamorgan in south Wales, and Richmondshire in Yorkshire jumped 22pc, 24pc and 21pc respectively.
Data from property website Rightmove showed rural rents climbed 11pc since the pandemic began. The number of available rental properties in the countryside has fallen by 61pc.
Separate analysis by CPRE found that demand for social housing was growing six times faster than the rate of supply in rural areas. Without increasing the number of homes, it would take 121 years to fix the backlog of low-income families needing places to live.
Between 2019 and 2020, 8,900 households were added to social housing waitlists in 88 rural local authority areas. This brought the total number of rural families waiting for homes in 2020 to 176,058. Just 1,453 social homes were built across the same period.
Crispin Truman, of CPRE, said few young people in the countryside felt that they were listened to by decision makers. “The shameful inequities of rural life mean young people struggle to meet up with their friends – in person or online – because public transport and broadband in the countryside has been an afterthought,” he added.