Does age affect where you move in the UK?

Different strokes for different folks, they say, and it’s no different when it comes to moving to a new home. Here at Urban we’ve used the latest internal migration data to see which are the most popular boroughs to move to in England and Wales. We split the info into age groups of 18 – 21, 22 – 29, 30 – 64, and 65+ and created the map below:

It’s soon evident that your age plays a big part in the kinds of places you move to. You’ll also notice that some groups centralise heavily around fewer locations, while other groups spread themselves out further across the country.

Our map throws up a few surprises too. Birmingham comes out as the most consistently popular place to move to, the only area which hits the top ten for each age group. When it came to people starting out in their careers, we can see that Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds are becoming an increasingly attractive option to the capital.

We've broken down all of the results below.

Student Living: 18 – 21s head north for university

Unsurprisingly the ten most popular destinations for 18 – 21 year olds part of university cities, as this group includes many people moving away from home to become students.

In fact, the same can be said for the top 21 locations, except Camden which near enough fits the same description. The London boroughs in general have mixed results. After Camden you have Southwark and Tower Hamlets, 27th and 32nd respectively, but you also have Barking and Dagenham and Havering all the way down at 115th and 121st. Generally though, the Inner London boroughs outperform the Outer ones.

In the end, it’s not until you reach number 61 – West Lancashire - in the list that an area doesn’t have a university within its boundaries. Having said that, the University of Central Lancashire sits just over the border and the area falls short of being university-less by around six miles as the crow flies.
Coming in last are the Isle of Scilly, the City of London, Merthyr Tydfil, and Rutland.

The Young Professionals: London challenged by Birmingham and Manchester

There’s a lot more variation in the group, but generally it will include a lot of people finishing their degrees, finding work, and starting to find their feet in the world outside of education. The changes on this map certainly seem to highlight this.

London demonstrates its pull for those looking for work as six boroughs are in the top ten destinations with all of them being part of Inner London.The increase compared to students age group moving to the capital is significant too.

For the 18 – 21 year olds, the most popular borough was Camden, with 4,471 people moving in a year. In comparison, Lambeth, Wandsworth, and 16 other boroughs attracted more 22 - 29 year olds than that. 14,777 people moved into Lambeth alone.

Outside of London, this group are generally heading to cities further north, such as Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.

Rebecca Lee, PR Manager and beauty blogger at Beccy on Beauty is one of the twenty-somethings who headed to London after graduating. “The reason for my move to London was to further my career, because at the time there just weren’t the same opportunities in my field of work as there were in London. Aside from my career the other big pull was to experience London, as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” But she’s clear that for her, London isn’t going to be home in the long-term.

“It just doesn’t make sense to stay down here when we can get a 3-bedroom detached house with a garden in Lancashire/Yorkshire for the same price of a 1-bedroom flat in London,” she says. Another reason is that she simply misses the north where she grew up.
Meanwhile, the same few boroughs are coming last again, along with a new entry of West Somerset doing just a bit worse than the City of London.

Established Adults: Birmingham and Outer London triumph

The established adults bracket contains a wider variety of people than the student group, but one where people are buying their first homes, settling down with kids, and moving on from the often chaotic and fluid years of their twenties. Meanwhile at the older end of the spectrum, people are often looking to escape the rat race and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life. All in all, people are growing up and, just like before, that changes their opinion on the best places to live.

The most popular place for this group is Birmingham which is likely helped by the affordability of property compared to the south. London isn’t being abandoned though as now seven boroughs appear in the top ten. While Wandsworth and Lambeth maintain their popularity, places like Lewisham, Haringey, Barnet and Ealing have crept in too.

Why the change in boroughs? The house prices and rents in the new boroughs don’t differ drastically, but their location does. More of the boroughs, such as Haringey, Brent and Ealing, are further from the centre. They’re clearly moving away from the more cramped conditions of central London as they seek out more space and peace for their families.

It’s not all about London though. Manchester and Leeds are more popular with this age range as people look beyond London to put down their roots. That shouldn't be too surprising . Both Manchester and Leeds are full of cafes, bar, clubs, jobs, and culture - along with a smattering of football teams too.

But it's the Brummies who have most to be proud of with Birmingham rising from third to first place, although the actual number of people moving is smaller.

What is making Birmingham so popular? “People are increasingly seeing our region as an obvious choice to build a career and raise a family, thanks to excellent schools, outstanding connectivity and affordable homes and amenities,” according to Emma Gray from Visit Birmingham.
But despite the buzz about Londoners moving to the Midlands and North, the data shows that most of the people moving to Birmingham are from north of the M25.

The most unpopular places for this group are nearly the same again: the Isle of Scilly, the City of London, Merthyr Tydfil, and Barrow-in-Furness.
Silver Years: Wiltshire and Cornwall top destinations

We finally come to retirees and not unexpectedly people are avoiding big cities for rural or seaside locations. It’s the first of the three groups that resist the pull of London when they move, with the most popular borough sitting at 23rd place. Meanwhile, the Inner London boroughs have dropped even further. Greenwich leads the pack but is all the way down at 162nd place.

The top ten for this group is almost entirely different from everyone else. Aside from Birmingham, cities are out entirely with mostly-rural Wiltshire top and Cornwall second.

Blogger Suzi Grant from Alternative Ageing is a born and bred Londoner but decided to make the move to Brighton in her fifties. “I always hated summers in the city: humid, grey and crowded. As an author, I realised fifteen years ago that I could finally work anywhere and moved to Brighton.”
She goes on to say that for the same price as a two-bed London flat she has a four-bed house five minutes from the beach and has almost everything she could wish for in the centre of Brighton. “I have been blissfully happy ever since,” she says.

It is worth pointing out though that retirees are far less likely to move. According to the data around 190k of them moved to new locations compared to 1.1m 30 – 64 year olds, showing the power of an established place in a community.

Freed from needing to work, they also spread themselves around more with far less variation in numbers between regions than the other three groups.
But, on the other end of the scale, things stay the same with the Isle of Scilly, the City of London, Blaenau Gwent, and Merthyr Tydfil coming last in popularity.

Let my property online from

£95 inc VAT

Let your property

Sell my property online from

£575 inc VAT

Sell your property

Back to top