Kent is one of the most popular destinations for movers from all over the South East, as aspiring property owners are attracted to the affordable housing market and Kent’s excellent schooling options. If you’re thinking about moving to this desirable South-East county, it’s normal for you to wonder: how many people live in Kent?
After all, having an idea about the density of the population will give you a better idea of how easy it’ll be to obtain housing, enrol your children in the education system, and access important public services, such as healthcare and transport.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some key data on Kent’s population, and answer some frequently asked questions from those looking to settle in the county. Let’s take a look!
According to figures from the official Kent county council website, the population of Kent is 1.5million as of 2021. This number has risen to 1.8 million in 2022. This marks an increase of just over 1 million in the decade since the last government census: in 2011, Kent’s population was 1.4million.
Kent’s population has experienced a steady increase of around 0.47% in the last two years, which marks a decrease from 0.9% growth from 2010-2019. Although the rate of the population increase has slowed (likely due to immigration reform post-Brexit), the population of Kent is expected to continue to increase at its current rate.
The population increase in Kent is mostly due to the so-called “London exodus”, whereby Londoners are driven out of the capital due to sky-high property prices and a higher cost of living. As Kent is close to London, with lots of key transport and infrastructure links, the county remains one of the most popular destinations for those seeking to settle down outside the capital.
As alluded to above, much of Kent’s population increase is due to the influx of London-based professionals looking to get on the (more accessible) Kent property ladder. A number of other factors have also influenced this increase:
Being one of the first points-of-contact on the UK’s southern coastline, Immigration to Kent has naturally been a key influence on its growing population. According to data from the Kent county council website, international immigration represents around 16% of all net migration to the county, although the total number of immigrants moving to Kent from overseas was at its lowest in the 2019/2020 period. This is most likely due to the combination of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, both of which limited movement into the country from abroad.
Population increase across certain Kent neighbourhoods and villages has also been driven by what is referred to as “natural change” - this is when the number of recorded new births in any given location exceeds the number of recorded deaths.
In some Kent counties - such as up-and-coming areas like Maidstone - the population has increased exponentially due to both internal migration and international migration, as well as natural change.
However, population increase isn’t necessarily the most useful metric when it comes to determining how desirable a place might be to live - especially if you’re basing the growth on rates of natural change.
For example, in Canterbury, the overall population has increased, but the rate of ‘natural change’ remains lower than the Kent average, despite Canterbury being one of the most desirable places to live in the county. This is uniquely due to the fact that Canterbury has a high student population, and is not a reflection of the county as a whole.
Overall, Kent boasts a fertility rate of 1.7, which is higher than the UK average of 1.59. Kent also has a lower annual net migration figure of 0.08%, significantly lower than that of the national average (0.4%).
As of 2020, the current most populated area in Kent is Maidstone. The current Maidstone population was last recorded as 121.723, although this figure is inevitably higher as of 2022.
In terms of population density, Dartford is the most densely populated area in Kent, with an average of 15.7 inhabitants per hectare.
According to the same data used above, the least populated area in Kent is Gravesham, which has a population of 106,900.
In terms of population density, Ashford is the least densely populated area in Kent, with an average of 2.3 inhabitants per hectare.
Overall, Kent has a slightly higher population density than the UK average, reporting a density of 448 people per square kilometre (slightly over the national average of 434 per square kilometre.) Kent is ranked third of England’s 24 counties when it comes to population density.
With excellent infrastructure, reasonable cost of living, lower property prices and plenty of good schools, Kent is a great place to live if you’re looking to avoid London’s expensive housing market.
When it comes to public services, Kent’s Community Health NHS Foundation Trust has been ranked as ‘outstanding’ by the CQC (Care Quality Commission), making it one of only 23 healthcare trusts in England with this ranking.
There are also many high-performing grammar schools and public schools in Kent, with Water Meadows Primary School, Simon Langton Grammar School, and Dover Grammar School for Girls ranking highest when it comes to academic performance. There are a total of 799 schools in Kent, comprising 649 publicly funded schools, and 62 private or independent schools in the Kent council region.
So, what does the future of Kent’s population look like? According to data from Varbes, Kent’s population is set to grow in the coming decade by between 0.5% and 0.7%, reaching 1.6 million in 2023, and increasing to nearly 1.75 million by 2032. Population density is also set to increase to around 486 people per square kilometre in 2023.
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