The coronavirus pandemic has changed how people work, with the kitchen or loft becoming the new office for millions of us.
That’s why fast and reliable broadband has become an essential household utility for those working from home.
The good news is that Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator, says in its latest report that ‘the UK leads other large European countries for the highest availability of superfast services’.
Connected: Fast and reliable broadband has become an essential household utility for those working from home
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that between April and June more than 46 per cent of employed people worked at least partly from home.
Superfast broadband has become the new ‘Waitrose factor’ of must-haves when it comes to selling a home.
Online estate agency Strike (strike.co.uk) says property prices on streets with the slowest broadband speeds in Britain are on average 24 per cent lower than nearby similar homes with superfast access.
So if you need good broadband speed to work from home, and want to relocate, here are five areas to consider . . .
This town in Shropshire is a foodie favourite, but until now it’s been off the table for London commuters as it’s a three-hour drive away.
But now it’s a viable working-from-home location as it’s one of 11 areas in Staffordshire and Shropshire being upgraded by broadband supplier Openreach.
In previous years, Ludlow has been festival central, with weeks celebrating music, literature, arts, Christmas and spring, and, of course, food.
Ludlow looks lovely, too, with 500 listed buildings, mostly in medieval streets, yet the average house price is £282,000.
Head to the Cotswolds
There’s a strong community spirit in Calne, close to the North Wessex Downs, with its Castlefields Canal and River Park.
The Wiltshire town was named by the House of Commons Library’s research into broadband as having some of the UK’s highest average download speeds.
There’s been a surge in building with many newer homes made from Cotswold stone.
The average house price is just over £286,000.
‘I live high in the Chiltern Hills and this was a game-changer for working from home’, says Guy Bradshaw of the UK Sotheby’s International estate agency (sothebysrealty.com).
‘The whole household uses the internet and there’s no compromise in speed and usage. Historically, these areas would have been a no-go for families who needed connectivity to work.’
There is a rail link from Henley-on-Thames to Paddington for traditional commuting, too.
The area is expensive with the average house just over £857,000, according to Zoopla. But an advantage of relocating to a good broadband area means rail fares can be saved and spent on schooling: nearby are Moulsford Prep, Cranford House and Shiplake College.
‘The whole county is improving. Villages like Paulerspury, just south of Towcester, have seen broadband go from inadequate to business-friendly over the past 12 months’, says Rachel Johnston of Stacks Property Search, a buying agency, (stacks.co.uk).
Paulerspury — with an average house price of £456,000 – is a 20-minute drive from Milton Keynes, which has direct train links to London Euston.
A study by the House of Commons Library last year shows the three constituencies in Kingston Upon Hull have the fastest broadband in Britain, between 122Mbps and 137.4Mbps.
There’s good broadband here whether you’re talking about high-end villages such as Elloughton – with some houses priced at £600,000-plus – or the extraordinary value of Hull itself, where terrace houses can cost £80,000 or less.