The best countryside locations to relocate to if you’re rethinking city life

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Kayleigh Dray
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Guildford: The 10 best countryside locations to relocate to if you’re rethinking city life

Fancy moving out of the city and into somewhere rustic and rural? Then look this way…

“What is it about the English countryside – why is the beauty so much more than visual? Why does it touch one so?”

So said Dodie Smith in her beloved novelI Capture The Castle, and it’s a quote that has stuck with us ever since. Because, yeah, when we get out of the city and into the country’s rural areas, everything does look and feel different. The air feels fresher, the grass looks greener, and even the rain feels… well, the rain feels the same, fine. But it’s far more fun to trudge about in wet, grey drizzle when you’re stomping through muddy puddles in wellies, isn’t it?

With so many people now WFH, then, it makes sense that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to many city dwellers reassessing their living choices and considering moving to the country. 

But where is the best rural location to move to?

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Well, to help you figure that out, Compare My Move has ranked over 70 popular rural towns and villages in England and Wales, based on factors such as average house price, median salary, hours of sunlight, rainfall, download speed and number of restaurants.

And, in doing so, they believe they’ve revealed the very best places to live in the countryside.

Check it out:

The top 10 best countryside locations

  1. Guildford, Surrey
  2. St Albans, Hertfordshire
  3. Shere, Surrey
  4. Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
  5. Wallingford, Oxfordshire
  6. Caversham, Berkshire
  7. Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
  8. Alresford, Hampshire
  9. Aylesford, Kent
  10. Ingatestone, Essex
Guildford high street: The 10 best countryside locations to relocate to if you’re rethinking city life
Guildford is known for its historic cobbled high street.

Commenting on the findings, Dave Sayce, managing director at Compare My Move, says: “The coronavirus pandemic has seen many people reconsidering their living situation, with a large number of city dwellers ditching urban living and relocating to rural areas for a slower-paced life in the beautiful English countryside.

“It’s easy to see why people are choosing a quiet life in the country as the UK is home to some of the world’s most beautiful rural towns and villages. However, relocating can come at a large cost, particularly with hidden fees, such as the cost of removals.”

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It’s most likely for this reason, then, that Guildford has taken the top spot. Boasting all the peace and quiet of a rural location, it has the highest earning potential for residents, with a median salary of £34,207.

And, as another plus point for anyone who’s lucky enough to be able to WFH, Guildford – famed for its historic cobbled high street and excellent retail facilities – is also known for its speedy wifi (think an average download speed of 60 Mbit/s).

Guildford cathedral: The 10 best countryside locations to relocate to if you’re rethinking city life
Guildford Cathedral was famously used in 1976 film The Omen.

“It’s not surprising to see the top rural destinations are near London, with the likes of Guildford and St Albans proving popular places for Londoners to escape to, whilst having the benefit of quick and easy transport links into the city,” says Sayce.

He’s not wrong, of course: the average journey time between Guildford and London Waterloo is 55 minutes. And, on an average weekday, there are some 146 trains travelling from Guildford to London Waterloo, which means you don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn to try and nag yourself a seat on the one pre-9am train into the city.

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Of course, if you’re looking to get further away from the big smoke, it’s worth noting that the most affordable rural location is the northern market town of Barnard Castle, which has the lowest average house price of £188,327.

Sunseekers, meanwhile, should choose Chichester, so that they can make the most of its 1,920.8 hours of sunlight per year. You could also opt for dry Alresford and revel in the fact it enjoys the lowest amount of average annual rainfall, with 548.8 mm annually.

Or, y’know, stay in London and just be sure to visit all of the above as and when we’re allowed to book staycations again. Your call!

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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