Debunking the myth that people move just ten miles – it’s further than you think

It is often said, within the industry, that most people move within ten miles of their current home – but has this mythical ten miles ever been proven?

In my series of articles, which are designed to help blow away such myths, I apply some simple analysis to see if they stand scrutiny.

I can’t take all the credit for the idea. It was during a conversation with Chris Wood at PDQ in Cornwall that it made sense to delve a bit deeper into the reality of how far people actually move – and credit must go to the MI team at myhomemove who did the hard work of extracting the data that will follow.

Firstly, myhomemove has completed transactions in every one of the 109 post code areas in England and Wales, but for the sake of simple science, it seemed logical to take a small sample area of Exeter, Plymouth and Truro (again, thanks to Chris for the suggestion) from which we could find all clients that have used our conveyancing service for the sale and purchase of their property.

Incidentally the extract of data was of 102 transactions, so it has made some of the maths a lot easier – providing you can live with it being the odd tenth(s) of a percentage point out.

Methodology? We took the seller’s home postcode and with the help of Google measured the distance to the sellers’ new postal address. And before you say it, I realise that there are relatively few places of high population in Devon & Cornwall – so the research comes with some obvious reservations. But nevertheless the outcome remains interesting.

Straight away, let me confirm the myth that 35% moved less than 10 miles, and as if the myth needed further confirmation only a further 4% moved twice as far. In fact 45% of movers moved within 50 miles of their old home. Fifty miles seems to be about an hour or two driving distance, and means that many already in the South-West loved it so much they stayed there – and who can blame them?

The furthest travelled was about 382 miles from Thornton-Clevelys in Lancashire to Helston in deepest Cornwall (to those people I say “Happy Retirement”).

Incidentally, those that moved over 300 miles numbered just seven.

The majority of the sample however did travel quite some distance: 44% travelled over 150 miles but less than 300 miles. To some people that means moving deeper into the West Country, whilst for others it means moving from somewhere such as Exeter to places like Bedford and Herefordshire, and for others it means moving from Leicester to Plymouth.

Perhaps it goes some way to prove that we are becoming a more mobile society, and we know that with the vision of a Northern powerhouse, social mobility is a significant aim of this Government. However, in my sample very few people were moving to the M62 corridor!

It also suggests to me that those firms and organisations that have a broad geographically-based network should make the very most of the asset that they have. For franchise operations such as Hunters and Martin & Co, it must mean making each franchisee think further than their own territory, and networks such as Relocation Agent Network should keep doing what they are good at doing, and do more of it. For the corporates it should be a given.

From my experience in agency, it was always difficult to get people to think of opportunities outside of their own patch, but if nothing else, this little bit of research suggests that they should definitely continue doing just that.

And at a time of severe stock shortage, it suggests that co-operating with fellow agents should pay dividends.

Stephen Hayter

September 2015

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3 Comments

  1. Fencesitter

    Interesting – but I still can’t help thinking that the West Country is just a tad atypical. After all, who would move between 150 and 300 miles in order to end up in Bedford?

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    1. RealAgent

      I agree; the West Country is likely to be a place that people move to for lifestyle changes and hardly reflective of what would be the case elsewhere in the country.

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  2. whaley

    Very interesting as usual Stephen. Got me thinking , would be very interesting to compare against our own stats.

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