A migration of wealthy residents and home-based workers from West Midlands cities is fuelling a property price surge in rural areas and creating a new housing crisis in the countryside.
More people moving out of the conurbation has led to house prices in some shire cities more than doubling in the last five years.
The rise in country property values has subsequently outstripped those in urban areas, meaning many first-time buyers in rural areas are priced out of the market and away from the place they grew up in, according to the 2006 State of the Countryside report.
The average price of a home in the West Midlands countryside is £246,779, compared with £144,267 in urban areas.
In Herefordshire the average house price over the last five years has rocketed from £87,132 to £204,757; in Lichfield from £110,000 to £208,303 and in Malvern from £101,151 to £199,626.
According to the Commission for Rural Communities, which published the report, villages and market towns in the West Midlands saw a total influx of 46,200 people in 2004, while 39,000 people who had grown up there moved out.
Launching the report Dr Stuart Burgess, the Prime Minister's Rural Advocate, said the trend was part of a widespread set of changes which was "radically altering the lives" of rural people, particularly those on low incomes.
"We see its impact across rural England, most critically in the housing market where house prices are increasingly being driven beyond the reach of many locals. At the same time the number of key services continue to decline."