In the first release of England and Wales Census information, Ceredigion tops the charts for people with second addresses elsewhere. Is it the UK’s biggest concentration of holiday homeowners?

People with a second address might be expected to come from London and South East England, right? Wrong.

According to Census data, the capital of second addressees is Ceredigion.

This county on the coast of west Wales contains more people with a second address in another county than anywhere else in England and Wales. Second address is defined by the Census as somewhere a person spends more than 30 days a year.

Isolated, picturesque rural counties tend to be a honeypot for people looking to buy a holiday home. Cornwall, Wiltshire and Gwynedd in Wales are among the top places for people to have their second address.

Ceredigion has a similar attractive, rural landscape. But from the Census statistics, it seems many people in Ceredigion base themselves there and have a second address in another part of England and Wales. Why?

There are a number of possible explanations.

The data is not about second home ownership but having a second address. It means that students are included. The county contains Aberystwyth University and the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, based in Lampeter. Ceredigion County Council estimates there are 10,500 students at these universities.

“It might sound like splitting hairs,” says a council spokeswoman. “But the term ‘second homes’ carries a very different connotation. Students are recorded at their term-time address as usual residents of Ceredigion but most of them will have a second address which is their home address outside of the county.”

According to the Census, 76,000 have their usual residence in Ceredigion. Of this number 8,153 have a second address in England and Wales, 106 in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and 1,278 overseas.

“It’s a relatively small population in Ceredigion,” says Peter Stokes, statistical design manager at the Office for National Statistics. “So students make up a disproportionately high percentage of the population.” This partly explains the large percentage of people with a second address overseas, he says.

The impact of students is clear in the map of England and Wales. Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter and Nottingham are the other hotspots for second addresses in another county.

Another factor could be English people retiring to Ceredigion’s unspoilt coastline, suggests Prof Kevin Morgan of Cardiff University. “It’s the top retirement destination in Wales. Aberystwyth has an even more beautiful seafront than Brighton. I’m speculating but they may have kept their homes in England and moved to Ceredigion.”

There are some retirees moving to the county, confirms Stokes. The Census data shows 325 people in Ceredigion aged over 65 with second addresses outside the county. But more statistically important are the 1,182 pensioners with second homes in Ceredigion.

Welsh pride may also come into it, says the Guardian columnist George Monbiot who, until a year ago, lived in Powys. “There are an awful lot of Welsh farmhouses that are in effect second homes but registered as first homes,” he says.

The owners live and work in cities like Cardiff and London, or spread around the UK. But they keep the house in Wales as their main residence.

“Giving up the notion of being Welsh is painful for them. We all con ourselves to some extent about who we really are.”

Back to all articles