‘There’s no place like home,’ said Dorothy – though her view of it might not have been quite so rose-tinted had she spent lockdown tripping over Uncle Henry, Aunt Em and Toto in their one-room detached. Home is somewhere we’ve all spent a lot of time over the past few months, often using it as both office and school, and it’s a place we’ve had a lot of time to evaluate. It’s not surprising then that people are making changes, whether it’s DIY, ambitious renovation projects, tending their garden or moving out altogether.
For some, the changes have been more drastic. It has recently been reported that Britain’s waterways are now busier than they were in the 1700s as more people take up permanent residence aboard houseboats, as well as spending holidays on them. Similarly there has been a surge in sales of caravans and motorhomes. And it’s been well documented that people are moving away from cities now that remote working is a possibility and those lockdown puppies need bigger gardens. So what’s happening?
We think there are two main factors at play.
First, necessity. Financial pressures caused by loss of work during the pandemic and a rise in house prices mean people are having to find cheaper places to live, including an alternative to traditional housing. When it comes to holidays, uncertainty around travel restrictions is seeing people sticking to the British Isles and choosing accommodation that minimises the need to mix with others. It has been reported that a younger demographic than the usual over 50s is opting for caravans and motorhomes, to avoid travel abroad but also to holiday safely with friends and family. Ownership of a motorhome also brings with it the opportunity for spontaneity, which brings us to the second factor: a carpe diem spirit.
After living through something so unexpected, we think that people are realising their control over events is limited and the future is more fragile than they thought. Rather than nursing a dream of a houseboat, a house in the country or whatever else they’ve been talking about doing ‘one day’, their attitude is now ‘there’s no time like the present.’ OK, so buying a caravan is hardly the same as jacking it all in and moving to Vegas, but that’s the point: it’s seizing the moment, living your best life now, but with a dimension of safety that cushions the blow of and insures against a global crisis.