Why is it so hard to find the ‘perfect’ country home?

We all have our own idea of what the ‘perfect’ country home looks like. Most of us, however, find that on the sale of our London property,  the reality of finding that ‘perfect house’ is actually frustratingly elusive.

This is either because although most pretty English villages do contain picturesque homes, they aren’t necessarily for sale when you are ready to buy. Or that you are met by stiff competition from others in the same position purchasing wise and are also after these gems. Most commonly, what looks ideal from the outside is hiding all sorts of horrors within its walls. Suddenly your healthy budget looks like it might get swallowed up by plumbing, rewiring, new windows, a kitchen extension and complete refurb.

For those whose expectations are slightly lower and are thinking more ‘country cottage’, other stumbling blocks make the house hunt equally tricky. The pesky but essential issue of the ‘commute’, often raises it ugly head:  it’s all very well living in a lovely piece of paradise but if you need to get to London regularly to maintain it – you don’t want a journey that makes you miserable.

Then there is the proximity to busy roads. Of course pretty village houses were built long before the car and were once purposefully built to in prime locations along the main street through a village. This means that many older houses find themselves sitting on top of a rat run at peak times.

Old houses also need far more work than busy families can be willing or able to take on. We often see houses that have been lived in for 40 years which will in time make amazing family homes but in the meantime, buyers need to have the energy and desire to consider the minimum of six months building work to bring the house up to the modern standards we have all come to expect – plus factor in the cost of renting on the side.

Lastly, ultimately the Victorian house that London dwellers in particular have become accustomed too, with the high ceilings, large sash windows and the capacity to create a large eat-in kitchen by simply adding a side return like everyone else, confuse the buyer looking to come out to the countryside. The houses are not formulaic, it is much more difficult to envisage changes to a country house, as they come in all shapes and sizes.  Some have old parts with added extensions that are from the 50/60/70’s that are questionable in design, while houses built more than 200 years are more often than not a collection of smaller rooms, with quirks, lower beamed ceilings, wonky floors, and smaller windows. A lot of these properties are listed or in a conservation area, so careful design will need to be considered and some restraints met but none of this makes transformation and modernisation impossible.

This brings us back to our original question, why is it so hard to find the ‘perfect’ country home? Taking taste or style of house out of the equation, could it be possible that with all the money in the world you would never find everything you desire in one house? In our very humble opinion this is probably the case. We see houses of all budgets, and even at the top end, you’d be amazed that there could be something wrong with them but there often is. Proximity to things is a major factor, this could be due to distance from the commute, or by being too close to fast road and therefore noise or because the house is too isolated or is too close to its neighbours and overlooked. Sometimes the garden is too overwhelming in size, for others it is that the plot isn’t large enough – the reasons all completely valid go on.

So what to do? Moving to the countryside is more than just the bricks and mortar you ‘buy’. First be in the best position possible, only start looking in earnest when you are actually in a position to move. Then you will have the best possible chance of getting that gem when it does come to the market.

Second, really do your homework on the lifestyle factors that are important to make you ‘happy’ living in an area, from commute, to schools, to local town to leisure facilities. Know the type of village and town you see yourselves living in.  Don’t complicate things by having too large a search area or you’ll just go around in circles.

Thirdly (you know this really!) but try to keep an open mind. Every property you’ve taken the time to visit, think seriously about what you could ‘do’ to it and don’t just take it on face value. Get the floor plan out, rejig rooms, work with the space it has and then investigate what you could do to it. If it is your ideal location, maybe it could be made to work in time?

Lastly, get help. If the house hunt it getting all too much, call in the professionals who will be able to help you focus your mind about where you want to live, they’ll do all the viewings, which can on average be up to 40/50 houses, and help you see the potential in a property that maybe you’ve overlooked. You never know –  you might just get the perfect home after all.