Freed from the need to commute daily into London after the pandemic, lawyer Alan Angell moved his family from the south-east of the capital to the former spa town of Cheltenham, on the western edge of the Cotswolds.
“With three children we needed more space than our two-up, two-down in Blackheath and there are great schools in Cheltenham,” says Angell, who has family connections in the area and, like his wife — also a lawyer — travels to London once or twice a week.
They make the most of being a short drive away from the Cotswold villages of Burford and Chipping Norton, and the padel courts at Bamford’s The Club.
Data released by Hamptons on Tuesday shows that in 2023 Londoners bought the fewest homes outside the capital for nine years. Yet, like the Angells, around a quarter of us are now hybrid working, and Cheltenham, famed for its Regency architecture, horseracing and literary festivals, remains a beneficiary of this trend. London buyers still account for a higher level of buyers in Cheltenham than before the pandemic, as evidenced by recorded sales at agent Hamptons — 7.6 per cent of purchasers this year.
Since 2018, the proportion of sales over £1mn has increased from 2 per cent to 5 per cent, according to Savills, but because it’s not as commutable from London as Bath or Oxford — the fastest train takes about 2 hours — there is a “price ceiling”, according to Jonathan Bramwell of agents The Buying Solution. “At around £1.5mn it’s more affordable to get a 4,500 sq ft family house in Cheltenham than either of those cities, so some buyers can keep a flat in London as well [for midweek stays].”
The Devil’s Chimney at Leckhampton, a village to the south of Cheltenham © Martin Bache/Alamy
In the first eight months of the