Wednesday 9 June 2021 8:43 pm

Exclusive: Pandemic prompts close to 4m Londoners consider moving in quest for a better life

The pandemic and subsequent UK lockdowns have had a transformative impact on UK employees, with more than a third aged 18-34 moving house so as to secure a better quality of life.

The corresponding figure for those aged 55+ is just 9 per cent, while the UK average is one-in-five, according to research from Close Brothers, shared with City A.M. this evening.

It is notable that people in London are most eager to make the change, with 39 per cent – or nearly 4m people – moving or thinking to move to get that better quality of life.

It is a significantly greater proportion than the next most likely regions, the East Midlands and the East of England (both 23 per cent). The region in which employees are least likely to have made the shift is the North East (9 per cent).

The research highlights the extent to which the past 12 months have changed the financial plans of employees across the UK.

The findings also show that 39 per cent of workers plan to move to remote working full time as a result of the pandemic with 30 per cent doing so part time.

Around one-in-five have decided that they want to reduce the amount of time they spend working (18 per cent), while 14 per cent either have already retrained, or are planning to retrain, for a new career.

Behavioural change

Outside of work the report also uncovers significant behavioural change. Three fifths of UK employees are exercising more (61 per cent), while 58 per cent intend to go out more when possible, and the same number are making a concerted effort to connect more with friends and family.

Over half (55 per cent) want to engage in a healthier diet and focus more on activities to improve wellbeing and mental health.

The last 18 months have had an almost incalculable impact on people’s mental and physical health, but it has had a notably tangible impact on employee behaviour when it comes to their finances too.

With many employees having to take difficult financial decisions, the research identifies that around three quarters (73 per cent) of UK female workers either plan to or have already started keeping a closer eye on their day-to-day spending as a result of the pandemic

This is the case for more than half (52 per cent) of their male counterparts.

Covid-19 has also spurred employees to think more about planning for the unexpected. Almost two thirds (61 per cent) are saving into an emergency fund. Furthermore, one in five (20 per cent) have been prompted to write their will.

Top changes made to improve financial wellness
Keeping a closer eye on day to day spending63%52%73%
Saving more into an emergency savings fund61%57%65%
Writing a will/ updating an existing will20%19%21%
Saving more into my personal pension19%24%15%
Increasing my contribution to my workplace pension16%19%13%

“For years, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the financial wellbeing of UK employees and in the last few years, there are some signs of trending in the right direction,” said Jeanette Makings, Head of Financial Education at Close Brothers.

“But the impact of the pandemic and the experience through multiple lockdowns have been a catalyst for some significant lifestyle changes and in employees taking steps to improve their mental, physical, and financial health,” Makings told City A.M. this evening.

“At this moment in time employees are more focused than ever about the importance of better managing their finances. It is therefore the perfect time for employers to push harder on their financial wellbeing strategies and better support their employees’ financial health,” she added.

“More employees need it and more employees are ready, willing and able to listen. For those organisations doing more to improve their financial wellbeing strategies now, the rewards won’t just be felt by their employees but there will also be tangible benefits to business performance, so it’s a double win,” Makings concluded.