by GK Strategy 12th November, 2018
3 min read

Urbanisation: should we all head back to the country?

It is undeniable that a large percentage of investments go into cities – both from the Government and private firms, such as property developers. However, it makes sense for such huge amounts of money to go into these dense population centres – over half the world’s population already live in cities and the Royal Geographical Society estimates that 70% of the world’s populations will live in urbanised spaces by 2050. But does everyone still want to live in cities? As migration out of huge cities such as London hit a ten-year high in 2017, filling the gaps in the rural market for the new arrivals could offer exciting opportunities for all kinds of organisations.

One reason so many are leaving our metropoles is that city dwelling can be stressful, which in turn can be a public health risk – a number of studies have found that mental disorders are much more common in cities than in the countryside. In contrast, the countryside offers many health benefits such as better air quality and less hearing damaging noise pollution. However, there is a problem – rural areas often lacks the health infrastructure that a big city offers. So, while you may be less likely to suffer an illness in rural areas, should you become ill, getting easy access treatment is often difficult. This could create an exciting space for a private solution offering healthcare provider.

Better mental and physical health is only one side of why people are moving away from cities. Another benefit can be economic. Living in cities is often expensive, and for the price of renting a one-bed flat in London you could have a mortgage on a 3-bed house in the northern countryside. It seems the Government is beginning to realise also the economic potential outside of London. While projects such as Crossrail look to boost urban economies, in recent years the Government has also put significant effort into revitalising areas outside of the cities now we are in a post-industrial age. One project that looked to encourage non-urban development was a £200 million boost to investment in the form of grants for rural England last year. The aim of these grants was to create 6000 new jobs, as well as support the growth of rural business and the expansion of fast, reliable broadband, an amenity that many rural areas lack supply of. There is no longer a need to run your business from a city centre office – now is the time of working from home, and that could easily be done from the countryside. By encouraging people to run their businesses and set up their lives in more rural settings, the Government indirectly helps boost these countryside economies – with more people spending in their shops, pubs and restaurants.

However, a large issue the countryside faces is public transportation. If we truly want to support rural living, better train and bus services must be provided to connect people to other surrounding towns as well as large cosmopolitan centres.

Please note that we are not trying to say that city life is over. Millions continue to live and thrive in such environments, but many also are turning to a more rural way of existing. This creates many new opportunities for businesses, both helped by government grants and also providing to the new urbanites inhabiting the countryside. While they may have left the city, they certainly want the same amenities as before – be that in healthcare, transport, or Wi-Fi. It is important that these gaps are filled.

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