The best places to live: How the UK countryside is replacing the cityscape

Since Boris Johnson announced he would be relaxing coronavirus lockdown rules in England, estate agents have been inundated with inquires from people trying to swap the big smoke for a countryside retreat. According to the head of country residential at Savills UK Andrew Perratt, the virus has sped up the trend. He added: “What has become clear now is that you don’t have to be at your desk in the city five days a week.


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“You’ll still need to go there, but you won’t have to do it as often, and probably not during rush hour.”

Here is’s round-up of locations region-by-region that can offer you a slice of the country life, while still being commutable to the office, with good access to medical care, broadband and community spirit.

South East of England, Lewes

Lewes in East Sussex is just over an hour away from London by train and 10 minutes from Brighton.

But the best thing is it’s in the middle of the most illustrious spot of the South Downs.

Three-bedroom townhouses go for £500,000-plus in this area but it offers both city life, sea air and culture.

North of England, Leeds

Leeds has been named as one of the greatest cities in the north. But a lot of people don’t realise it’s also surrounded by stunning countryside.

If you want a countryside retreat that is still commutable to a major city, the urban village of Roundhay has a great park life, excellent schools and great good.

But if you want to go even more rural then you can try Ilkley.

It is 33 minutes by train to Leeds and its famous moor allows you to watch the sun set over a panoramic view of northern England.

If you get the 6am train then you could even be in the London office by 9.30am.

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Scotland, North Berwick

North Berwick was featured in The Sunday Times’ ‘Best Places to Live’ guide.

It is 33 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley railway station and is right next to the countryside.

There is superfast broadband in most of the town, which is a lifesaver for home-workers.

But property isn’t cheap because a two-bedroom flat hardly sell for just under £300,000.

Meanwhile farmhouses can cost as much as £1million.

Wales, Swansea

Mumbles, Swansea has a huge and widened prom which leads to the surf paradise of Langland Bay.

Terraced cottages go for £210,000, which is pricier than Cardiff.

But the cool suburb of Penarth has sea air, lush farmland and is next to the Medieval Llantwit Major.

Plus, it is only a half hour’s train ride to Cardiff city centre, or you could go check out the location for Gavin and Stacey, Barry Island, with its impressive beach.

But if you don’t mind the 15-minute rail journey, Bangor is cheaper with a more traditional seaside feel.

Northern Ireland, Holyrood

Luckily in the emerald isle, you will never be far away from fields or beautiful seas.

But the best satellite for Belfast must be Holyrood. Whether it is sailing, swimming from the beach or simply cycling along the shore, this is a great place to live.

Compared to elsewhere in Northern Ireland, houses are more expensive here.

It is well over £1million for a lavish detached property around the enclave of Cultra.

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