The Sarah Beeny effect has made this small town the most popular place to live in the UK

Homebuyers are following the property expert's escape to the country

This last year has seen homebuyer habits change dramatically. However, the latest data from Rightmove reveals a Sarah Beeny effect. A small town in Somerset has become the most popular place to live in the UK in 2020.

Related: Sarah Beeny's super simple tip to transform a home without spending a penny

Just outside the quaint Somerset town of Bruton, property expert Sarah Beeny is building a modern stately home. It's a build that's being documented in Channel 4's Sarah Beeny's New Life in the Country. And according to property website Rightmove, the countryside town has seen buyer searches increase by 72 per cent in the last year.

house exterior with bricked wall and wood stacks and chairs

(Image credit: Future)

In her new Channel 4 show, Sarah Beeny and her husband swap their London home for a place in the countryside. It's a swap many homebuyers have mirrored in the last year. Many are keen to swap city centres for more remote locations as commutes have gone out the window, and working from home has become the norm.

The top ten list of Rightmove's most popular places to live in 2020 is dominated by rural and coastal areas. The picturesque town of Pitlochry in Scotland is the second most popular place to live this year, with buyer searches up by 50 per cent.

outdoor with white door and candle lamp and barbeques

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Aylesford in Kent, the seaside town of Salcombe in Devon, and Lightwater in Surrey all cracked the top ten. Each location is luring buyers with stunning scenery and quaint communities.

'This year we’ve seen an uplift in the number of home-movers escaping to the country. We think this trend will continue for now as people show their willingness to make significant life changes,' says Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data.

'The data highlights just how influential the unexpected events of this year have been in shaping the nation’s housing priorities. Many buyers are determined to swap city streets for rural and coastal retreats.'

living area with white wall and painting frame and wooden table and couch

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

Glynis Frew, CEO of Hunters Estate Agents points out that the last year's events have fundamentally changed our work-life balance.

'2020 has given many people time to reset and reprioritise, with a focus on lifestyle. From a better work-life balance to the need for outside space, we have a renewed sense of what matters to us,' he explains.

'For some, this means finally making that dream rural or coastal move. Safe in the knowledge that they can work remotely for the majority of the time while coming into the office a few times a month.

'For those in certain digital-led industries, the possibilities are almost limitless - a good Wi-Fi connection is all they need.'

Related: House prices are at a record high, but Rightmove has a warning for sellers...

Will you follow Sarah Beeny's lead and make a dash for the country in the New Year?

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.