People in their thirties are moving out of the South East countryside in a stark demographic shift as house prices rise faster in rural areas than in urban areas, despite incomes rising more slowly.
New figures from the National Housing Federation show the number of people aged 30-44 has dropped nearly eight per cent in the rural South East over the last decade, eight times more than in urban areas.
The analysis also shows that in the South East the number of children under 10 in rural areas has also fallen slightly, although numbers have risen six per cent in urban areas, while the number of number of young people under 20 has risen three times more slowly in rural areas than urban areas
But the number of over-65s in rural areas has risen 61 per cent faster than in towns and cities.
Alongside this demographic shift, rural house prices have soared in rural communities. In rural areas, average house prices have risen 76 per cent in ten years, from £180,763 to £317,325, with rural house prices now 18 per cent higher than in urban areas.
However, wages have not kept pace, rising 16 per cent more slowly in rural areas than in urban areas over the last five years. This means that for every £1 increase in urban wages, rural wages rose just 84p.
The Federation’s Warren Finney said: “Young people are being priced out of the rural South East by rising housing costs and are moving elsewhere to raise their families.
“What will happen to the local shops and pubs, the village school, the small businesses that maintain rural economies, if there’s no-one left to keep them open?
“If we don’t start building more homes that ordinary families can afford, our treasured south east countryside will become the preserve of the old and wealthy.
“It’s up to all of us to halt this rural decline. Tell your local councillor to say yes to village life and yes to homes.”
The National Housing Federation is joining with housing associations around the country to celebrate Rural Housing Week, which runs from 10-16 June and campaigns for the right homes at the right prices in rural communities.
To take part in the campaign and say yes to homes in your community, visit www.yestohomes.co.uk.