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Talk to me about second homes...

(91 Posts)
wonderingwondering Fri 30-Oct-09 15:19:37

We're considering buying a second home in the UK, to use for holidays, weekends. We've a location in mind - good access from where we live by plane/train, close to DH's extended family. What are the pros and cons?

We live in London (central is necessary for DH's work) but are looking for a weekend place with countryside nearby. I don't work so would envisage spending school holidays there with DH commuting for the weekends.

We can afford to move from our current house, but are thinking we'd rather stay put (our current home is adequate for our needs and good location/schools) so we thought a second home in a greener, more peaceful location might be a better investment (financially and in terms of lifestyle) than upgrading our current house.

Any thoughts?

Anifrangapani Fri 30-Oct-09 15:22:18

Please don't buy one in our village - I am sure you and your family are lovely, but 2nd homers are pushing up house prices that would normally be bought by young families, even in this climate.

EldonAve Fri 30-Oct-09 15:25:41

things to consider are

cost of travel
hassle of travel
maintenance of 2nd home
would you rent it out?
would you allow others to use it?

AMumInScotland Fri 30-Oct-09 15:37:44

You'd need to think about how much maintenance the place would need - plus the maintenance on your current house & garden.

Will your children really want to spend every weekend and holiday away from their friends? If you spend all your time travelling back to birthday parties, it won't be very restful.

Effjay Fri 30-Oct-09 15:38:42

Please don't. Second homers can do enormous damage to rural communities. A village that is full of second homes is reduced to a ghost town during the week, it ruins the local economies, drives up house prices out of the reach of local people and destroys community life. It's no wonder that many people who live in these villages are hostile to the weekend crowd. There are loads of hotels, B&Bs and guest houses in this country. If you use them instead, you will be actively supporting the local community instead of destroying it.

wonderingwondering Fri 30-Oct-09 15:38:56

We wouldn't rent it out. It would be a leisure thing with the investment being the repayment of a mortgage (sort of enforced saving every month). We'd allow close family to use it.

We could reach the houses we're considering in an hour by plane plus ten mins in a taxi. There are some new-build so would be relatively low maintenance, and family nearby could arrange a gardener if we couldn't visit for a while.

I'd factored travel costs of a weekend per month plus school holidays, with DH commuting. And a second car.

I know there's a thing against second homes, but I do think we'd really use it as a home, not an investment or rental which might stand empty. We have family there, too. We'd like to move form London but just can't, with DH's work. This seems like a good compromise.

GrendelsMum Fri 30-Oct-09 15:43:51

It sounds a little dull for you, to be honest, if you and your son are going to go down there for holidays together. Do you get on that well with DH's extended family that you want to spend all your hols with them? How will you get about when you're down there (e.g. days out, shopping etc)? Will you buy a second car and leave it down there? Borrow one off your relatives?

FiveGoMadonTheDanceFloor Fri 30-Oct-09 15:46:11

Message withdrawn

LaurieScaryCake Fri 30-Oct-09 15:47:45

In an hour by plane ?????

That is totally wrong environmentally and really staggeringly selfish

Anifrangapani Fri 30-Oct-09 15:49:40

Our village is dying because people are buying second homes. During the week there is barely anyone about. When people use their second homes they very rarely use the local shops prefering to bring their food with them, finding the range too small. The houses can't be used for long term rentals and they are being priced out of the reach of people who work around here because of the earning differntial between here and London. Please don't do it.

LaurieScaryCake Fri 30-Oct-09 15:49:43

and you're not using it as a "home" just one weekend per month

you're just taking it away from people who might want to live there and put back into the local economy full time

GrendelsMum Fri 30-Oct-09 15:50:20

And I remember from my youth that it's not about an hour by plane plus 10 mins in taxi at all - it's time spent packing in advance, getting to the airport, waiting for the plane, then the flight (which will occasionally be delayed), then the taxi. You all arrive tired and grumpy and eat junk food.

As your DS gets older, he will have homework to take with him, as well as playing in sports matches, playing in concerts / acting in plays / just generally doing stuff. And there are really stupid things like getting DS's laundry done ready for the new school week. These used to cause huge stress in our house

traceybath Fri 30-Oct-09 15:51:59

won't your son want to play with school mates in the holidays?

Stillsquaffingthesteamingblood Fri 30-Oct-09 15:53:19

Biggest problem is that one of you will probably love it more than the other, so one will always be nagging to get down whilst other can't face the journey. That will be frustrating for both of you.

If you need a plane to get there then you need to factor in the cost of getting there - flights are hellishly expensive on a Friday night (ditto Sunday night return), wherever you go. Regardless of cost, airports at these times with kids are horrible places. Fairly likely that you will be hauling the kids down there by yourself, and DH will swan down by himself on late flight (and you will have to collect him at other end). If total journey takes more than 5 hours then I would be surprised if you end up there more than once a month, max. Which means that the first half day will be spent restocking fridge and getting logs etc; last half day is washing and drying sheets and trying to clean everything up. Bear in mind that in the UK half the time it will be cold/raining, and not all of you will want to put on boots and brave the weather. If there is a nice village pub, one of you will slope down there, leaving the other to put the kids to bed.

It's not too expensive to maintain in terms of utility bills, etc, but you need to factor in insurance (forget contents, as the cost of cover won't be worth it because it will be classified as unoccupied) and household bills. You will also need to find a gardener to keep it going (expect to pay around £50-£70 a week between April-Oct for an average garden). You will also need to find a keyholder locally you can trust who can clear away post and go in if there is any type of emergency.

People locally will know when it is unoccupied, so burglary is always a possibility. Things like 'bin' days can cause problems too - your keyholder will need to put your wheelie bin out and back in after you leave or else everyone will see it left out...

Once there, how will you travel? Will you need to leave a car there? That will be expensive - especially when you arrive at 11pm to find the car won't start.

I have had a second home in the UK which was a dream because I could get there from Central London in 2 hours, so it was never a chore - I could always nip down every week so it really did feel like a home and I made good friends in the village. I now have one in France which is around 6 hours door to door and although I love it, the cost of flights and hire car make each trip comparable to taking a 'proper holiday' cost-wise, and it really is a slog cleaning it all and changing sheets at the end of each trip - especially if you are only there for four days - the clean-up takes just as long as if you had been there 4 weeks. I used to have a cleaner do it for me but was effectively paying around £150 per visit, once the sheet-cleaning service was added on.

AMumInScotland Fri 30-Oct-09 15:57:17

One weekend per month? I don't think you're going to be contributing much to the local economy with so few visits. It will be standing empty most of the time.

And flights for every visit...

Sorry but no, I don't think that's a fair thing to do. I'm not completely against having a weekend home, but that would need to be most weekends and using the local shops etc to contribute to the area.

MortaIWombat Fri 30-Oct-09 15:58:05

Time to be harsh.
Greedy people like you are a large part of the reason ugly newbuilds are popping up everywhere. One family, one house. Don't be selfish.
And no, this is not jealousy speaking. I just think you're nuts.

Stillsquaffingthesteamingblood Fri 30-Oct-09 15:59:41

God I am so slow posting today - X posts.

We live 10 mins from the airport and our flight is just 1 hr 40, and trust me it does take 6 hours in total when you factor in the check in airline queues at the weekend.

bodycolder Fri 30-Oct-09 16:02:21

Get a caravan! 2nd homers destroy the ability for locals to remain that LOCAL!Schools businesses etc suffer

jetcock Fri 30-Oct-09 16:17:29

I second the caravan idea - much more friendly to rural communities, plus the kids would love it!

EldonAve Fri 30-Oct-09 16:26:38

Other things to consider - what happens if they ditch the airline route you need?
airline taxes will go up in the future - will that matter

I can't imagine a caravan would meet the investment requirement - do caravan prices appreciate?

wonderingwondering Fri 30-Oct-09 19:00:33

Thanks all.

I do see the issues over travel, maintenance: that's exactly the sort of thing I needed to hear experiences of. And the sports at the weekend thing is relevant too, as DS is young but is already getting involved in sport, parties etc.

I'd LOVE a caravan, but DH isn't keen (to be fair, he does work v hard in the week, so he wants a 'home' to come back to). And it would be part investment/saving, so EldonAve is right that a caravan doesn't quite fit the bill.

We'd have family nearby for emergencies, as keyholder, for post, maintenance etc. But I do see some of the practical difficulties of packing up and setting up a new home for the weekend.

I do see the argument about second homes being selfish, but I don't agree with it. If there's a high concentration of weekenders, I agree that must dissolve the community feel and have an economic impact. But I live in London, I already pay very high prices for my housing: I don't complain about that on the basis that prices are high because everyone else wants to live in London, too. And I want some countryside and quality of life for my children: why shouldn't I?

And I would/do make an effort to put back into any community I live in: in London I ensure I support local shops rather than the big chains, pay (properly) for outside help like a cleaner etc, get involved in community/voluntary groups. The weekenders who are selfish (and so shortsighted about maintaining their little bit of village paradise) are probably selfish in their city environment too.

LaurieScaryCake Fri 30-Oct-09 19:09:30

But what about the environmental disastrousness of flying to your weekend home?

bigstripeytiger Fri 30-Oct-09 19:09:50

I have no major moral problem with second homes, but I think that a second home which is a significant effort to get to is going to very quickly end up feeling more effort than it is worth.

Ivykaty44 Fri 30-Oct-09 19:14:10

depends on the length of the journey, not in miles but in time

Dont forget the ques on the m1 and m40 and m4 every sunday night as everyone comes home from their weekend away and the ques going out on a friday

Your dc will at the moment be ine spending time away - but as they grow and their friends are still in the home area - they may not be so keen to spend so much time away.

wonderingwondering Fri 30-Oct-09 19:37:51

So I agree the flying might be problematic - travel to the airport, check-in etc may result in a pretty lengthy journey, and the cost could be prohibitive.

Any suggestions for somewhere to buy within an hour or two drive/rail from London? We're east-ish so heading that way would be good. But I suspect prices will be more than we want to pay at moment (we were thinking around £200k).

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