Why do entrepreneurs move to the countryside? Falling land values sparks rise of rural startups, says RICS

Kasmira Jefford
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Entrepreneurs are swapping the city for the countryside (Source: Getty)

There is an entrepreneurial revolution taking place it is happening among Britain’s green pastures, a new report claims.

Rising property prices in city centres and falling land values have made buying a plot in the countryside increasingly attractive to those outside traditional farming communities, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), fuelling a surge in new business startups.

Its latest survey in collaboration with the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) reveals that nearly a quarter of rural land sold over the last six months was snapped up by non-farmers such as those starting up cottage industries or lifestyle farmers.

That compares with 18 per cent in the first half of last year and was strongest in South East England where non-farmers accounted for 32 per cent of all rural land sales.

By contrast, property developers accounted for only one per cent of sales over the same period, a decrease of two per cent. Sales to individual farmers fell from 62 per cent to 57 per cent.

RICS attributes this trend to rising residential and commercial property prices in cities, prompting would-be entrepreneurs to look further afield.

Meanwhile rural land prices have also begun to drop with more than 34 per cent of respondents in the survey expecting to see prices fall rather than rise this year, driven by a global fall in crop prices.

RICS head of policy Jeremy Blackburn said: “Start-up businesses do not have to be confined to the trendy streets of East London, Britain’s countryside has a great deal to offer young entrepreneurs. Market conditions appear to be encouraging a wave of new types of rural business, and help must be given to support this trend further if our countryside communities are to thrive.”

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