Whether it’s finding that new home where the kids have acres to run around in, or downsizing for a green and tranquil retirement, many of us dream of moving to the countryside and owning our own rural retreat someday.
If you’re serious about making that dream a reality, it’s important to keep your feet on the ground. While almost anyone should be able to make countryside life work for them, there are six things you need to consider before you make the leap. Life in the city and life in the countryside provide very different environments and challenges, and you should reflect on these before committing to anything.
Below, we’ve listed seven of the more important factors you’ll want to consider.
How realistic is the commute?
You might be planning on getting out of town, but if you’re still in employment, chances are you’ll still be working there – for now at least. Before you snap up a rural property, you need to think honestly about the commute. You need to reflect not just on whether the journey is possible (if you have a car, the answer to that will almost always be yes), however is it one you’re happy to commit to doing there and back, up to five days a week. Also think about how adverse weather and traffic might affect that journey, and how serious an impact that could have in your line of work.
Where are your amenities?
If you’re currently living in the city or a large town, you’ll be accustomed to having the things you need on your doorstep. From running out of milk and being able to get more in minutes, to having take away delivery drop dinner at your door, it’s easy to take things for granted. The price to pay for all that lovely greenery is that getting what you need, when you need it, won’t be quite so easy.
Try to spend a few days reflecting on which amenities and services you rely on in your town or city life. Can you manage without them? Or come up with any potential work-arounds?
Can you get online?
Being digitally connected is part and parcel of life today. Whether it’s calling in on conference calls for work, or just streaming the latest hit series on the telly, most of us spend hours online every day without really thinking about it.
While high-speed broadband and 4G data roaming are increasingly accessible in the British countryside, many blackspots remain in more rural areas of the UK, and it could be year or two before you see any improvement.
If you know you use the net a lot, whether that’s for work or play, assess how well connected you’ll be in any of the areas you’re searching and think about how it could impact you.
Are there any plans for the area?
If you’re moving to the countryside for some much needed peace and quiet, you’ll want to be confident that that’s exactly what you’re going to get. Merely being somewhere isolated or in the green belt doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be protected from the arrival of new properties or housing estates.
If there are permissions for new homes nearby, this is something that may be uncovered in the searches and surveys before you exchange contracts. But it’s a better idea to do your research beforehand, to avoid any disappointment.
What’s the local community like?
If you’re moving to the countryside some distance away from family and friends, it’s natural to worry about feeling a bit socially isolated. Even if you’re not going to be too far, it’ll be important you get familiar with your new neighbours, which can seem daunting if you’re moving somewhere like a village.
But just because villages are smaller certainly doesn’t mean they’re less sociable than towns and cities. In fact, many people find they prefer the closer-knit nature of rural communities. Village halls and local pubs are great places to get a feel for what the area’s like socially.
Will you still like it come winter?
On a glorious, long summer’s day, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t happily up sticks and take residence between the green hills of the British countryside. But moving house is more than a seasonal commitment.
You don’t have to love the dark and damp days of winter, but given the isolation of rural living, you’ll want to be confident you can tolerate them. It’s important to look at the bigger picture rather than allowing an idealistic image to build in your head.
If you’ve had a good think about all the above, and still feel confident that moving to the countryside is the right choice, then your next step is to start viewing properties.
Make sure you’ve got your budget in mind, factoring in all the various costs of buying a house, and are searching for something that fits your future plans – whether that’s growing your family or downsizing. It’s easy to get carried away by the beauty of rural properties, but keeping a cool head will ensure you find something that’s as perfect for you functionally as it is to look at and explore around.