Where do Brits settle down in their forever homes?

We all dream of finding our forever home - a place to finally settle down, offering everything you need to live a long, happy life, and maybe even raise a family.

But finding the right place requires the perfect mix of location, space, storage and amenities, all at the right cost.

We’ve discovered where people in Great Britain have been finding their forever homes, using historic property ownership data from HM Land Registry. This study reveals which towns, cities, and places people stay in the longest, and where people are the most likely to sell up and move on.

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How long do people live in their forever homes in Great Britain?

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How long do people live in their forever homes in England, Scotland and Wales?

After scouring the whole of Great Britain, the data reveals that it’s homeowners in Wales who settle in one place the longest, living in the same property for an average of 10 years and 5 months. People in Scotland, on the other hand, move on the quickest - around two years sooner at an average of 8 years and 4 months in one property.

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How long do people live in their forever homes in the different British regions?

There are some interesting regional differences in Britain when it comes to residency length.

The region where people live in their homes the longest is London, where homeowners tend to stay for an average of 11 Years 3 Months 19 Days - nearly a whole year longer than in the North East, which is next on the list, and where people stay for an average of 10 years, 6 months and 7 days.

The South East is the region in England where homeowners move around more, or choose to stay for the shortest amount of time, averaging at only 9 years, 9 months and 10 days.

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Where do people live in their forever home the longest?

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Where do Britons live in their homes the longest?

(Excluding London)

If you’re ready to settle down, South Staffordshire in the West Midlands might be for you. Residents here live in their properties longer than anywhere else; an average of 12 years, 3 months and 19 days.

In fact, locations in the West Midlands appears most often in our top 10. Homeowners in Birmingham and Sandwell both stay in their properties for an average of more than 11 years, indicating the area must have something good going.

Things look less good for the South-East borough of Waverly. People there only stick it out for an average of 5 years and 31 days before moving on to pastures new.

Please note: London has been given its own section further down in the study.

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Property Type

Which property types do the people of Britain prefer for their forever homes?

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What type of properties do Brits choose as their forever homes?

A home can be many different things to different people. While some people might imagine their forever home as a traditional two-up, two-down, they often come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

That said, it’s detached houses that keep their owners for the longest across Great Britain, at an average of 10 Years and 11 months. This is seen in both England and Wales, where homeowners stay in detached homes for an average of 10 Years, 10 Months and 23 Days, and 11 Years, 2 Months and 31 Days in England and Wales respectively.

Scotland was excluded from this comparison, because property type data in Scotland is handled and categorised differently.

Please note: London has been given its own section further down in the study.

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Property type for every local authority in Britain

(Excluding London)

Search for your local authority to see which property types are the most prevalent in your local area.

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Forever homes in London: which boroughs and property types are the most popular in the capital?

Where in London do people choose to settle down the longest?

London is a huge area and has enough property data to match some countries! We’ve broken it all down to see which borough does best for resident longevity.

It’s tight at the top, but we found Westminster comes first in the capital with an average ownership period of 12 years, 5 months and 28 days. However, we can take those figures with a small pinch of salt given how some of the locals are paid to live there for work – namely, most members of the UK’s Parliament.

Kensington and Chelsea is just behind, with an average stay time of 12 years, 5 months and 12 days, while the City of London - home to many of the nation’s biggest financial institutions and a hotspot for investment properties - sees residents stay there for an average of 12 years, 4 months and 29 days.

London is seen as a great location to invest in property making it a real hotspot for landlords. This could be a driving factor as to why so many people decide to hold onto properties there for so long, particularly in the more expensive areas.

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Which properties do Londoners prefer to stay in?

A huge chunk of London’s population lives in flats, with 1.8 million people currently inhabiting one. But when it comes to forever homes, detached properties still prove most popular, with an average ownership period of 12 years and 13 days.

In the borough of Hounslow, residents prefer semi-detached homes, staying in them for an average of 13 years, 7 months and 5 days, while flats come first in Kensington and Chelsea, with average stay times of 14 years, 3 months and 26 days.

These long property ownership times might be a little deceptive, though. Many homes in London are rented out, with landlords holding onto their properties in the hope of making profit later on.

See the most popular long-term property type in your part of London with our search feature.

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What makes a forever home? Our experts explain

Great Britain

Which factors contribute to making somewhere a top forever home location?

To answer the question why certain locations are more popular for forever homes than others, we talked to Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of HomeOwners Alliance, and Property Consultant, Matt Lanninge.

According to Paula, the local area is the defining factor when selecting a forever home.

“I think it’s not just the house, it’s definitely the community. People will choose to live longer in certain homes because they’re part of a community and they’ve got ties to the community.”

Matt agrees and feels that safety of location and surroundings will help homeowners decide: “The area is arguably more important for some. Some people wouldn’t live on a street they didn’t feel safe on, or was too busy, too quiet, or simply doesn’t reflect them.”

Our data reveals that the majority of long-term homeowners opt for detached houses and Matt thinks it’s about having the space to make your own house a home. He says: “Having full control of your detached home and not having attached neighbours gives homeowners a different sense of security and wellbeing that they may not get with a terraced or semi-detached home.”

Paula, on the other hand, believes that it comes down to having a sense of stability in your income. “It’s essentially your family home so it makes more sense that you’re in a detached house,” she says. “Your income is probably at the highest and you’re at the peak of your earning potential.”

So, when it comes to choosing a forever home, it shouldn’t just be about the house itself. Decisions are made with surrounding locations, communities, and space in mind to guarantee a longevity in safety and comfort.

Can data help explain why some areas become forever home hotspots?

To try to understand the factors that might contribute towards making certain areas more ripe for forever homes than others, we analysed the latest Census data (a survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics every 10 years) from 2021. The findings list out something known as subnational indicators, which evaluates factors such as life satisfaction, happiness, health and education, and we looked at every local authority in Britain to find out which scored the highest above the median for positive indicators. We found that the Isles of Scilly in the South West scored the highest.

#Authority% Above median
  1. 1Isles of Scilly
  2. 2Hart
  3. 3Tandridge
  4. 4Manchester
  5. 5Staffordshire Moorlands
  6. 6South Staffordshire
  7. 7Redcar and Cleveland
  8. 7Stockton-on-Tees
  9. 9Slough
  10. 10County Durham

Why are Londoners settling down in certain areas more than others?

When it comes to the capital, our data shows that Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, and the City of London are some of the most common areas to settle down in. Being some of the more luxurious areas of the city, homeowners tend to look to these boroughs for larger investment properties. But are there any other reasons why these locations are so prevalent?

According to Paula, the truth is in the details, with stamp duty costs being a major factor in keeping these London boroughs full.

She explains: “If you’re moving into a £2 million property in one of these boroughs, you’ll be paying approximately 7.56% in stamp duty (£150,000). So, if you decide to move for whatever reason – maybe you want a bigger garden or want to upsize – you’ll be losing £150,000 off the amount of money that you can spend on a new property. It really doesn’t make sense to move, you will actually be eroding your affordability.”

But what about the new buyers looking to move into these affluent areas?

You’ll get more bang for your buck in these affluent London boroughs, even if you’re moving in as a new investor, as according to Matt, “these boroughs are also some of the wealthiest local authorities in the country, so charge very little council tax, yet have excellent local facilities.”

It’s no surprise, then, that families and home buyers look to these more comfortable boroughs to settle down in for longer, where the quality of life is high.

Can data help explain why some London boroughs become forever home hotspots?

We looked at Census data - something that’s provided by the Office for National Statistics every 10 years - to analyse factors such as life satisfaction, happiness, health and education (known as subnational indicators) for each London borough too. By measuring which boroughs scored above the median for positive indicators, we found the City of London scored the highest. This might be explained by a highly affluent demographic in this borough.

#Authority% Above median
  1. 1City of London
  2. 2Richmond upon Thames
  3. 3Wandsworth
  4. 4Kingston upon Thames
  5. 5Kensington and Chelsea
  6. 5Camden
  7. 5Hammersmith and Fulham
  8. 8Bromley
  9. 8Westminster
  10. 10Haringey