Living through lockdown has left many of us rethinking our homes, and where we live, in ways we may never have imagined. For many, the pandemic has triggered a reappraisal of urban living, with increasing numbers fleeing city confines in search of green space and more rural settings.
As buying agents, we have assisted a number of people over the last 12 months from both the UK (London in particular) and overseas with the sourcing and acquisition of rural properties around Bristol, Bath, in Wiltshire not to mention 2 of the most popular West country destinations: the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire.
Some of these buyers were looking for a second, family home for weekends and summer holidays whilst other were permanently seeking to relocate to a more remote and rural location and leave the city behind for good.
But before we undertake any new search for our clients, we always start with an initial (free) and no obligation consultation to gain a clear understanding of each client’s particular and specific requirements, expectations as well as new lifestyle considerations.
This is particularly important when deciding to make the big commitment of moving away from the big city or crowded towns for the first time. If for example you lived in Central London all your life and are thinking to move to the countryside, then be prepared for serious and major lifestyle changes.
Is moving to the countryside right for you? Let’s have a look at the bigger picture and the pros and cons of relocating to the country.
The Pros and Cons of Moving to the Countryside
For every benefit that moving to the countryside offers there are also some disadvantages.
Cleaner Air and a Healthier Lifestyle
This is the number 1 reason reported by people deciding it is time for them to start a new life in the countryside. And they are right – the countryside generally offers a much healthier lifestyle with far less carbon monoxide emissions from car exhausts and industrial pollution, not to mention less traffic and urban noises.
BUT is this always the case? In reality not always!
Many rural locations in the UK have industrial sites varying in sizes and contributing to heavily polluting the air. Think of smog that coal fires produce. If you decide to live in an old mining village deep in the countryside, be prepared for early mornings with thick smoke in the air, courtesy of smoking chimneys.
A Less Stressful Life
As well as the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, people relocating to the countryside also seek a less stressful and more peaceful lifestyle. Of course rural locations tend to be less busy, with less crowds of people and fewer traffic jams.
BUT what can be perceived as less stressful to someone can be the complete opposite for someone else. Different things trigger stress in people and the saying “patience is a virtue” couldn’t be more relevant than in a rural environment: getting stuck behind a herd of cows or a tractor on a narrow countryside lane whilst on your way to an important meeting can definitely raise your blood pressure and put your patience to the test!
If you are generally prone to stress, then I would suggest you consider carefully what kind of stresses you might be most sensitive to, as it will help establishing whether a move to the countryside is the right thing for you!
Close Proximity To Nature
As well as the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, moving to the countryside offers the evident advantage of close proximity to nature, trees and birds, which we can argue contribute to a healthier lifestyle, better physical and mental wellness and consequently less stress.
With everything on your doorstep, endless outdoor activities are on offer: from the simply walking to cycling, foraging or even gardening.
BUT this comes with a price to pay: nature gets everywhere! Be prepared to make new acquaintance with your best new friends: dirt, in the form of dust, cut grass, wheat or mud! Most countryside roads and lanes are full of rather large potholes, be prepared to face the inevitable: you are guaranteed to step into one!
Enjoying Organic Fruits and Vegetables
Of course having a fruits and vegetables garden, along with orchards is a must-have and very high on the wish list of anyone moving to the countryside. And even if you are not a keen gardener, you will certainly have easy access to local products in the village store. From milk, cheeses, eggs to meat and poultry, there will be certainly a few farms around you selling local fresh and organic ingredients.
BUT are the apples, carrots or potatoes sourced from your nearby local farm really 100% organic? According to experts, the only way to guarantee something to be 100% organic is to grow it yourself! And make sure that the fields next to your vegetables patch are not subject to pesticide spraying!
More Affordable Properties
It is generally the case that relocating to the countryside tend to offer advantages such as more outdoor space, a garden and possibly a driveway for few cars as well as generally a bigger home, meaning you get more bang for your buck!
For the price of a 2 bed flat in prime Central London you can easily get a 4-5 bedrooms house in Gloucestershire or the Cotswolds with some acres of land around, a back garden with scenic views across the countryside offering privacy and less proximity with next-door neighbours.
What’s not to like? And what’s the catch you might wonder?
One of the major disadvantages of owning a rural property is the fact that it tends to cost much more in terms of overall maintenance as well as running costs.
Rural properties do not benefit from the latest energy efficiency standards nor modern technologies and construction methods, making them far less insulated and prone to drafts. This basically means it will cost you more to heat especially during the cold and windy winter months. And of course, a bigger home means heating and also electricity bills will be much higher than if living in a flat in central London.
So one piece of advice: when viewing a rural property for sale, pay particular attention to the boiler installed and how well it has been serviced (and take also a good look at the conditions of the windows).
The vast majority or rural homes are old, sometimes dating from the 15th Century or older, thus requiring regular attention and loving care to maintain them to their former glory.
Still dreaming of “chocolate box” thatched cottage in the Cotswolds or a grand manor estate in Gloucestershire? Then be prepared to face the inevitable: potentially a constant battle to keep up with the building necessary repairs and maintenance work.
Not to mention if these properties are listed buildings (there are plenty of rural and countryside properties in England that are Grade I or II listed), the maintenance costs can escalate much further. And any alterations or simple repairs such as repainting the beautiful sash windows will require planning permission.
Friendly Locals & Community
It is generally true to believe that communities tend to be friendlier in the countryside. There is also something reassuring about being able to walk down the street and recognise people you bump into. In small villages and rural locations, people not only greet each other but also take the time to stop and have a chat, especially if you have recently relocated to the area and need advice or recommendations. There is definitely a strong sense of community and “extended family” that you won’t find in urban cities.
BUT, and as stated before, everybody knows everybody! This could be dearly annoying if, like many people escaping London for more rural locations, you are seeking peace, quiet and more importantly and ultimately Privacy!!
Living in a small village, surrounded with close proximity neighbours, can look very enticing and charming at first.
But be aware, every single move you make will be spotted and scrutinised by someone who will obviously form an opinion about it! And rest adamant of the fact that people in villages do like a gossip! Quite a lot!!
There are some additional points that should also be carefully considered before moving t the countryside such as lack of frequent public transport or limited availability of local shops for example.
Ultimately and obviously, where precisely and how deep in the countryside you are planning to relocate will dictate the type of property you will find, your lifestyle, what local amenities are as well as how easy or difficult the transition will be.
I hope this blog post has given anyone contemplating relocating to the countryside some food for thoughts as living in the countryside is indeed very desirable in its appeal, but it requires some preparation as to what to anticipate and a degree of adaptation to your new surroundings.
Domus Holmes Property Finder is an independent property-buying agency providing a comprehensive property search and acquisition service to clients looking to buy a home or purchase an investment property in Bristol, Bath and the South West of England (Somerset, Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds and Wiltshire) as well as West and Central London.
For a free, no obligation consultation and discussion about your property search, please contact Jerome and Claire on:
T: +44 (0) 117 973 3683
M: +44 (0) 7734 115 098