More and more people are hitting retirement age, waving goodbye to the city and saying hello to seaside and country life. We look at some of the most popular retirement destinations

The peace and tranquility of the countryside or coast has always been alluring for people as they near retirement age, and now it seems as popular as ever. New data has revealed the top ten retirement migration hotspots: rural areas, the coast and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

At the same time, the ten local authorities with the largest number of people aged 65 year and over leaving are all urban areas and cities, with Birmingham, Croydon and Redbridge topping the list.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the top ten retirement migration hotspots are, in order:

  • Dorset
  • Shropshire
  • Wiltshire
  • Cornwall
  • Northumberland
  • East Suffolk
  • Tendring
  • Cheshire East
  • East Devon
  • East Riding of Yorkshire

What is ‘townsizing?

Moving from the city to the country makes financial sense for a lot of people, with many retirees ‘townsizing’ – buying a cheaper property outside the city in order to free up funds. For example, a retirement-age couple who own their home outright could sell their property in Outer London (average price £424,200) and release significant equity by buying a property in hotspot Dorset (£324,707), with the recent changes to stamp duty rules helping still further.

It’s not always for financial reasons though. The average house price in Birmingham, for instance, is £194,971, which would suggest that some moves are potentially driven by lifestyle considerations instead.

Why do people relocate?

After years of busy city living and working, it’s understandable that a lot of people look for a quieter life, at a slower pace, in retirement. Apart from the obvious lifestyle benefits of living in less built-up and polluted areas, the health benefits – both physical and mental – are well-documented.

These have been brought into sharp focus this year, with the pandemic causing many of us to seek fresher air and more space, away from large towns and cities. And with remote working from home increasing, it probably won’t just be retirees who will be considering a move to somewhere more relaxed.

The benefits of relocating

The pandemic has brought many aspects of our lives into sharp focus and will likely make many people of retirement age reassess their priorities,” says Chris Knight, CEO of Legal & General Retail Retirement. “I anticipate the pandemic will only increase the number of people looking for a new life outside the city.”

Today’s retirees demand a lot more from their new locality. Retirement hotspots need to offer a variety of shops and restaurants, access to arts and culture, as well as essentials such as a good phone signal and Wi-Fi connectivity.

“Finding a home for your retirement can offer some welcome freedoms,” says Knight. “You can prioritise moving closer to family or friends, or indulge your passion for breathtaking beaches or idyllic countryside. There may be other practical considerations too, such as a need for good public transport links or to have healthcare close at hand.”



Taking the plunge

Top five retirement migration hotspots

Fancy moving to one of the hot spots? We look at what the top five retirement migration hotspots have to offer, and why they have become so popular with those aged 65 and over.

1. Dorset

Average property price: £285,051

With a mild climate, low crime rates and miles of unspoilt coastline to explore, it’s no wonder that Dorset is so popular with tourists and retirees alike (it has the third-highest population density of pensioners in the UK). The Jurassic Coast – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – boasts famous landmarks Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and West Bay (the home of TV series Broadchurch), while picturesque inland towns and villages such as Charminster, Bridport and Blandford Forum are popular with retirees. Moving here isn’t a cheap option, but away from the exclusive “millionaire’s playground” peninsula of Sandbanks there are homes to suit every budget.

2. Shropshire

Average property price: £216,916

Land-locked Shropshire can’t compete with Dorset or Cornwall when it comes to beaches, but it still has plenty of stunning scenery to explore, with rolling hills, historic buildings and country parks all over the county. Popular landmarks include Ludlow Castle, the Ironbridge Gorge (a World Heritage Site) and Whitchurch Waterway Country Park. The bustling county town of Shrewsbury – the birthplace of Charles Darwin – has something for everyone, and smaller nearby towns such as Market Drayton and, on the Welsh border, Oswestry, are also popular places to live in retirement.

3. Wiltshire

Average property price: £272,870

Like Shropshire, there’s no coastline in Wiltshire, but it more than makes up for this with its picture-perfect villages, cultural landmarks and relatively mild climate. Almost half of the county is a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, which can be explored via an abundance of walking routes and cycleways. It’s steeped in history too, with iconic landmarks including the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral and, of course, the prehistoric Stonehenge. Pretty market towns such as Chippenham, Malmesbury and Corsham offer plenty of period properties, although these do come at a price.

4. Cornwall

Average property price: £238,854

It’s known for its sandy family-friendly beaches, but within Cornwall’s 400 miles of coastline you’ll also find all manner of rocky outcrops, shingle beaches and estuaries – so there’s plenty of room for residents as well as tourists. As well as the beautiful beaches (of which there are more than 400), there are many well-regarded attractions in Cornwall, from the Eden Project to the medieval Tintagel Castle and the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan. Foodies will find plenty to enjoy in Cornwall famous for its pasties and cream teas, as well resident celebrity and Micellin starred chefs including Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw and Paul Ainsworth. Property hotspots among retirees include Porthleven and Falmouth.

5. Northumberland

Average property price: £152,051

The cheapest place to live on the list, Northumberland offers the best of both worlds – with glorious countryside, a beautiful coastline and more castles than any other English county. There’s no shortage of landmarks to explore, from the world-famous Hadrian’s Wall to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and the extraordinary contemporary Alnwick Garden at Alnwick Castle. Northumberland is also the least densely populated county in England so will offer some welcome relief to city leavers. Popular places to buy include Alnmouth, Warkworth and Amble – home to a bustling waterfront.

House prices as of March 2020 UK House Price Index