Fear of a second wave of pandemics empties big cities
We are very lucky, Victoria Beckham recently wrote on Instagram and posted several photos of her family. One of them shows her 8-year-old daughter Harper placing a tripod in a huge lawn of yellow flowers and painting, while the other older brothers are bathing in a wooden tub outdoors or grilling with their father, David Beckham. The family of the football star has been in the English countryside for two months because of the coronavirus epidemic and judging by their regular messages on social networks, they like the rural way of life.
Victoria and David have settled with their three younger children at their mansion in the beautiful village of Cotswolds. The star couple bought it for 6.5 million pounds in 2016, but used it only for vacation. He lived mainly in his house in London because of the business of the parents and the children’s schools. At the end of March, when it became clear that quarantine was being introduced, however, the family urgently left the British capital, which was most severely affected by the epidemic. And, fortunately, there was nowhere to go in the long run, which is already proving difficult. English brokers reported increased interest in houses in the countryside in the first week in which the real estate market was reopened. We are mainly looking for villas for rent, but there are many inquiries for buying homes. “We’re seeing a lot of interest from people in London who have realized that they don’t have to live in densely populated areas to work,” said Mark Collins, owner of a real estate agency in Surrey.
Helen Murray, a sales manager at Waldingham, 30 minutes from London’s Victoria Station, says she has already spoken to several residents of the capital who can’t wait to move to the countryside. “When you have children with whom you have to live for months in an apartment, the dream of exchanging it for a small house with a garden becomes even bigger. I think this whole situation made a lot of people think that the house was giving more, ”Murray added. Moreover, the danger of a second peak of the epidemic is completely real with the onset of autumn, without a vaccine against the coronavirus.
That’s why many people try to quickly find a place to live outside the big cities, which is not easy. The British singer Rita Ora, for example, said that she was greeted with a knife by the neighbors of a house in the English countryside, which she rented with a group of friends. The locals did not want outsiders because they feared they might bring them COVID-19.
There are similar fears in some small towns on the East Coast of the United States, where many rich people have moved from New York. It has been reported that about 420,000 residents, or 5% of the city’s population, have fled since the beginning of the epidemic. In some elite neighborhoods, the percentage has even reached 40, as those living in them have found a way to work remotely or their business has no chance to work again in the coming months. Half of those who left have an annual income of more than $ 100,000, and 33 percent have more than $ 200,000. “Due to the social division, the crisis did not happen equally for everyone. We often say that we are all together in this, but it does not apply to everyone, “said American history professor Kim Phillips-Fein. The export of the urban population to the villages has already started to create some problems. Provincial supermarkets are often empty, and monthly rents have skyrocketed.
The president of the national association “Real Estate” for Plovdiv Dafina Gudova says that in Bulgaria there is interest in rural property and it is definitely related to the pandemic. “The moment is emotional. Social isolation has given a new perspective to the comfort of living in our homes. This, of course, turned the buyers’ eyes to the rural areas “, she explained to BNR. According to her, the interest of young families is in areas close to urban areas. We are looking for places with easy transport access, availability of a health center, shops and security.
Real estate expert Georgi Pavlov believes that the modern consumer of rural real estate will rather look for newly built or reconstructed houses. “We experienced such a return about 15 years ago. There was a wave of English people, several thousand, who bought property in small towns and villages. And this wave disappeared because the village is not just land, air and trees. It is also a place to live and requires a particularly well-developed social infrastructure nowadays, “Pavlov told national radio. Therefore, he expects people to head to the villages for summer vacation, as they will not want to go to hotels with other people. However, those who like to live in self-isolation can also make a more radical change in their way of life, namely to move outside the big cities.
To a large extent, it all depends on how the schools will continue to function. If they remain closed next school year and classes are online, most families with children will certainly prefer to stay in their country estates. The same goes for retirees, who usually spend the summer months in the villages and return to the cities in the winter for heating. Probably the fear that the coronavirus will return and hit the cities again will prevail over the inconvenience of heating with wood or electricity.
“It seems that during the epidemic, people realized that city life is not what they want anymore, and that they get much less in terms of value for money. So they try to see what they can get more by leaving their small apartments and moving to areas with more greenery and space, ”said Reese Giles of a real estate agency in Brentwood, England, a town 30 km from London with 55,000 inhabitants. So it’s no wonder that millionaires were the first to head to the countryside. There they can get much more comfort during quarantine, and the risk of coronavirus infection is much lower.
Which slow down
There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the need to slow down and return to a green lifestyle, but the coronavirus seems to be accelerating this process. There is even a special term downshifting, which describes the social behavior of people trying to escape the great stress of material-dominated life. The literal translation from English is “switch to a lower speed” and is usually associated with migration to small settlements.
The first downshifters appeared in the last century in the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. In Bulgaria, the process has been gaining popularity over the last 10 years, as it concerns young people with a free profession or a desire to develop a rural business. “There is such a trend and it will continue. However, there must be infrastructure and internet so that they can work remotely, “Borislav Borisov, chairman of the Association of Bulgarian Villages, told BNR.
According to the National Statistical Institute, migration from urban to rural areas is already ahead of that in the opposite direction. Last year, 128,179 people changed their place of residence. Among them, most are between 20 and 39 years (30.9%), followed by those under 20 years of age, which are 24.9 percent. 27.4 percent moved from town to village, while from village to town – 24.1 percent. However, the largest share is of migrants from city to city, which is 38%.