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buying a holiday home in UK

(20 Posts)
Rosebag Wed 16-Jun-10 11:18:49

I am determined to find a little holiday place to buy on the UK coast that can be our bolt hole to get away from things easily and quickly. I've had the devil's own job convincing DH that the whole family will benefit (have 3 DC's). Nevertheless we have started researching areas of the UK coastline that appeal (attractive, picturesque, not too remote); which are shortish, easy drives from where we live in North London,(is there any such thing?!), and with good rail links too. We are keen on West Sussex which we know well, but have also considered the Suffolk coast and parts of the Essex and Kent coasts too. I wondered whether Mumsnetters had any views on these areas or indeed had personal experiences of owning a second place or lived close to any the above and had local knowledge to share. I would add that we are just at the beginning of this venture so any view or info would be welcome. Thanks!

GrendelsMum Wed 16-Jun-10 13:17:29

We had a long thread on this a few months back and people shared a lot of experiences, positive and negative. On the whole, I think we were more negative than positive! If you have a search, you should find a useful starting point.

Rosebag Wed 16-Jun-10 14:45:57

I did read something in a previous thread, yes. It was a little negative but I think points about distance (ie not being too far to travel and not being too remote), and the responsibility of keeping up maintenance and running costs are valid ones... certainly ones which are in our minds. However, I had hoped to hear from people with some positive experiences and also local knowledge of the costal areas I mentioned. Anybody?

fedupwithdeployment Wed 16-Jun-10 15:01:16

We have a holiday home, albeit in France, and it is fab.

I think the most important things to decide is whether it will be somewhere you go for weekends, or if it will be mainly holidays. If weekends, you need to limit the drive. We live in north London and sometimes go to the south coast - earliest you can get down on a Friday night is 10ish (leave about 7.30, pray for decent traffic...) and is that going to work with small DCs?.

Our location works for us - we accept it is a long way and fly if going for a week or less. In the summer/ Christmas we drive, and the boys are fine. It also has brilliant train links - so glad you have thought that one through.

DH and I were in full agreement about it, and had talked about it before kids came along, buying (a wreck) when DS1 was a baby. We still think it was the right thing to do and have no regrets. Before taking the plunge, I think you and your DH need to be in agreement.

bowbluebell Wed 16-Jun-10 15:51:45

We have a sort-of bolthole (not anymore, as I live there with our baby full time now and DH comes down 3 days a week - it was a weekend cottage when we started out but we fell in love with rural life!).

We live in East London and chose Norfolk because we have some friends and family links there already (so were able to use the cottage to host parties/Christmas etc.) but also because it is only 2 hours drive, which can be done in an evening without too much trauma! Although the coast or the Broads would have been our first choice, we went for mid Norfolk as it's so much easier to get to and subsequently we got the use out of the place (the coast and broads are still only 40 minutes for a day out).

Maintaining 2 places is inconvenient, especailly if you are not there very often. My MIL has a place in France with an acre of garden, which is far more trouble than it's worth. We looked for places with courtyard gardens, but in the end found a place that faces onto a churchyard, so someone else mows 'our' lawn for free!

Jacaqueen Wed 16-Jun-10 17:04:57

We bought a holiday home earlier this year. It's in the East Neuk of Fife which is 1.5 hours away from where we live. Pick the boys up from school at 4 on a Fri and be sitting in the beer garden at 6pm. Have Sunday dinner, bathe youngest son and get into pj's leave at 6pm home and unpacked for 8pm. I always make sure that school uniforms are ironed before we go and leave milk and bread for Mondays breakfast.

We are still renovating it and probably will be for some time to come but that is all part of the fun for us. DH and I are early 40's and one day we hope to retire to that area.

I had the choice of moving to a larger house or buying a 2nd home and have no regrets over my decision. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you are going away for the weekend. My boys are 12 and 5 and love the area too. There is space for friends and family to stay so hopefully people will want to come and see us.

Getting work done has been hard and taken much longer than expected. Arranging time off to supervise workmen, getting quotes, organising furniture deliveries etc is difficult to do when you live and work in another area. We are doing lots of the work ourselves but only having weekends means it takes a while.

We intend to use it for most school holidays and maybe every 2nd weekend. We enjoy going on self catering holidays in the UK and normally go for a week at Easter, 2 weeks in summer and a week in October spending on average 1K per week for good quality accomodation. Christmas and New Year are too expensive. Our mortgage payments for the holiday home are around 6K pa. Obviously we may not want to spend every single holiday there for evermore. I have been thinking about doing a holiday home exchange if we fancy a change .

The best thing about it is knowing that everything we need is there. I always leave a bottle of wine in the fridge for the next time we go. The boys have toys and books that stay there along with some basic clothes. I have a duplicate set of toiletries etc which means we dont have to pack up half the house every time we go.

It is still early days for us too but I cant see us ever getting fed up with it.

Rosebag Wed 16-Jun-10 18:01:42

Thanks for the helpful replies so far.Fedup....DH and I are in agreement about the concept...the initial problem was more about what we would get for the the outlay, I think. Bowbluebell...we would plan to be there as much as possible but recognise the potential problems re. maintenance and managing it remotely. Jacaqueen...we are a similar age bracket to you. The plan would be for me to go on from school pickup if we were going for the weekend and for DH to get the train down from work later. My best and closest friend's parents had a place in West Sussex when we were kids and I often went with them. Once we were in secondary school we took the train down ourselves straight from school and met her Mum there.We had the best time. We also go abroad for holidays and will probably continue to do so but the thought of having a place to get away to quickly and at short notice is really appealing. We have lovely hols in the UK too and never worry about the weather.

Jacaqueen Thu 17-Jun-10 10:24:13

I definately dont think you would regret it.
We dont look on ours as an investment and can easily afford the mortgage so property prices and interest rates dont concern us.

I know lots of people who spend large amounts of money every month belonging to a golf club, gym etc. Or have expensive hobbies or taste in clothes. They think nothing of spending money on nails, hair, massages. Have to have the latest phone, laptop, new car every couple of years.

We are not really like that so see the money that we spend on our holiday home as our leisure/entertainment budget. Obviously there has been a high initial expense because we have had to decorate and furnish it. Once we have it up and running I think it will give us a great return in terms of the quality time we will all spend together.

Another thing I wanted to say was go for location over property. Our house is not the dream cottage by the sea but it is in the best location in the area. I didn't realise how important this would be until we had actually bought the place.

Rosebag Thu 17-Jun-10 16:56:04

Yes...we aren't really thinking of it as an investment other than one in improving our quality of life. Similarly our leisure interests aren't especially costly (with the exception of the theatre and the occasional opera which I can't resist!!).

I really don't want to make a mistake about more try there anyone out there with local knowledge of the coastal areas I listed in the original post?

IngridFletcher Thu 17-Jun-10 17:01:53

If I was buying such a property I would go for Deal. IMHO it is the next Whitstable in popularity (and increase in house prices).

I would worry too much about traffic making the journey stressful though.

GrendelsMum Thu 17-Jun-10 17:02:39

Well, second hand knowledge from DH is that parts of the Kent coast have traditionally been rather run down and undesirable, but that better train links seems to be able to turn this around surprisingly quickly. He would say that he'd be very wary of buying a bargain house in Kent, as the location might turn out to be a bit grim. There can be high levels of unemployment and a slightly hopeless feeling.

The Suffolk coast doesn't seem to be very easy to get to by train, and I can imagine that the bits you can reach by train are very expensive.

IngridFletcher Thu 17-Jun-10 17:21:22

Kent is a mixed bag....broadstairs, hythe and the like v. nice, Margate, Ramsgate....hideous.

ampere Fri 18-Jun-10 12:36:11

My aunt lives in the East Neuk of Fife in a seaside village. She lives in the only fully occupied cottage on her Wind. She has been there 40 years. The rest are all now weekenders. In winter, hers is the only light on in any window on and around the harbour side. She feels lonely and isolated.

Her 2 daughters live in grotty housing estates inland as they have been completely priced out of the local market.

One some weekends and during summer holidays the village fills with Volvos packed with children and Waitrose groceries bought in Edinburgh. The occupants clank up and down the Wind hauling their wine from their cars to their cottage. They then go up the village shop and loudly moan about the lack of focaccia.

Second home ownership in the UK kills local communities.

Rosebag Wed 14-Sep-11 10:44:23

I was the OP and wanted to resurrect this's well over a year old! I was shocked by the vehemence of the last post and didn't feel able to come back on rather took the wind out of my sails.

Nevertheless, we did it...found a little flat in a coastal village in West Sussex and completed on the sale in the spring. We spent our first weekend there over Easter and have been there as often as possible in the interim, including for a month over the summer hols, (with DH returning for one week to London for work but the location is only an hour and a half from Victoria.) Friends and family visit us there and we have close friends with a flat in the next town. I have thoroughly enjoyed kitting it out, albeit to a basic standard and seeing the kids enjoy themselves in a traditional British holiday-type way.

The local people have been welcoming and friendly....if there is any hostility towards us for being 'second home owners' we are not aware of it...infact others in the block say that the flat was unoccupied for a very long time and they're pleased that someone's there at last.

It feels like the best thing we've ever done and I can't wait for the October half term! Thanks to all the other posters for the helpful advice last year.

mulranno Wed 14-Sep-11 12:24:25

Well done Rosebag -- good for you -- we are also considering W Sussex would like to be nr west wittering - as this is the only place I know but which I understand is v expensive - where did you end up and do you have a pros/cons list of areas you looked at. Flat is a great idea.

scaryteacher Wed 14-Sep-11 12:38:54

I am not surprised at the vehemence of Ampere's post; and she is right. Having a flat is different though, there may be families living in the block permanently, so it isn't having such an impact.

My home is in Cornwall, and again, there are villages that have lost their shop, PO and school because the second home owners have priced the locals out of the market, and no business or school can survive if there aren't enough people using them.

I am torn on second homes; it's good that people can afford them, but there is a price to the locals and it seems that locals can't get on the ladder because of this.

Blu Wed 14-Sep-11 14:45:18

My parents on the N Norfolk coast are in the same position as Ampere's Aunt. And I agree, to an extent about the impact. But I don't think second home owners are the root cause. Rural deprivation drives young families out from these areas, or keeps income low if they stay. It is these factors that mean that it is local people who chooose to sell their property at high prices to second-home owners - thay are no more or less to blame then the buyers. Second home owners are key to the tourist industry in the area. IF the property is used regularly - lent to friends when the owners can't eb there etc. And if second home owners do cintribute to the community they were attracted to buy in - shop locally, etc.

Rosebag Thu 15-Sep-11 00:11:37

Hello Mulranno.We bought in Angmering on Sea, also known as East Preston, between Littlehampton and Worthing. We couldn't afford the Witterings. We are 10 mins walk from the beach and less from the village shops. We went for this area as we already knew it well, it was pretty but not remote, an easy drive from London (I needed to feel comfortable with this as I would be driving alone with the kids often) and only 1 and a half hours on the train.

As far as the ongoing moral debate on second home owners goes, I do see us making a contribution locally in terms of paying the community charge, using local shops and businesses and bringing tourism to the area. Close friends and family use the flat when we aren't there. Where locals have been priced out of an area I agree with Blu in as much as the causes are multifactorial. I also think local councils must surely take the initiative in monitoring the areas where communities are adversely affected. I do however make no apology for buying and improving a small flat in a poor state of repair which was reasonably priced, which the locals didn't seem to want.

Blu Thu 15-Sep-11 11:34:08

I'm glad you found a place you love and it's working out well for your Rosebag.

My parents neighbour are second homers, and they do their best to act like f/t neighbours - making friends, offering help and co-operation where appropriate etc.

The other thing is that many of the High St properties are cottages - tiny, narrow steep stairs, poky rooms, no garden, expensive maintenance for flint walls, front door opens directly onto a road with no pavement etc. Holiday visitors and second homers love them, it's part of the quaint coastal fantasy, young families with 2 or 3 kids prefer the semis on the outskirts of the village. Where prices remain reasonable because second homers are much less interested.

However, the steet looks much less quaint blocked and gridlocked with Range Rovers (2 cannot pass in the street) piled to the gunwhales from Waitrose, it's true.

Rosebag Thu 15-Sep-11 15:29:13

The 4x4 driving, Ocado shopping, foccacia- or- nothing steroetype makes me smile when I think of us. Beaten up MPV (almost as bad, I guess), shopping from the Co-op and medium sliced brown loaf!!! That's us. LOL

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