Country Property

Image showing a country property in England
Buying a beautiful country property is a dream for many people who live in urban areas. Photo © Malcolm Neal (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Property in the countryside

A 2021 buyers guide to country property

Many people dream of owning a idyllic country property, living a life of tranquillity near some chocolate-box village with friendly neighbours who wave every morning when you walk to the local shop to collect your newspapers. In this article we shall be dealing with the reality of searching for and buying a property in the countryside.

From beginning your research on viable areas to live in the countryside through to practical considerations before you make the leap and buy that property in the country. Here is what you will learn:

  • Buying a property in the countryside – what to consider
  • Beginning your country property search
  • Finding a property to renovate in the countryside
  • Buying a ready to live house in the country
  • Finding a country property as a second home
  • 5 tips before you buy any property in the countryside

Buying a country property – what you should consider

So you wish to follow the dream and buy a lovely house in the country. One thing about the UK is that it does have many desirable rural areas, including rolling countryside, beautiful small villages and plenty scope to accommodate anyone who has a yearning to live in a country home. There are, however, some things you should consider before you make that all-important move. Not all of these points will apply to every property buyer, but in general it is worth keeping some advice in mind.

Do you want to move to the countryside?

It may sound like an obvious question, but this will depend where you are moving from. If your current home is already in the countryside then perhaps you can skip this part. If, on the other hand, your main or current residence is in one of the main UK cities or any built up area, there are going to be some major differences when you move to the countryside.

Many house hunters have had their dreams shattered when confronted with the reality of living in the countryside, often because of issues they did not previously consider. It could be a major issue like the distance involved to commute to work, right through to silly things like not being able to call for a pizza or a lack of local shopping facilities.

What is living in the countryside like?

Generally speaking, living in a rural location is very different from being in a town or city. It can take longer to access services, there may be limited or no public transport. Perhaps the main town is 10 miles away which could mean a considerable drive to get your kids to school. Other issues include rural roads being difficult in winter, longer waits for tradespeople to fix things, less options for eating our and entertainment and being further away from family and friends.

The plus side of living in the countryside can mean a much higher quality of life, including less crime and friendlier neighbours. In the UK countryside you will more than likely be surrounded by beautiful landscapes and stunning scenery, this can make a huge difference to your new life in your country property.

You are also likely to have more space, such as a bigger garden and possibly outbuildings which add to future possibilities. Your nearest neighbours are probably going to be further away than in a town, giving you more privacy. As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages of buying a country property.

Beginning your search for a country property

Before you being your search for your dream house in any rural area, there are two overriding factors which will affect your search for the perfect rural property:

  • Do you wish to buy a finished home or find a property to renovate in the countryside?
  • Would you like to live in or near a village, near a main transport artery or be more isolated?

Finding a country property to renovate in the UK

If you feel capable of taking on a project and you are looking for a property to renovate, then this can open many new doors in your search for your dream home. These types of buildings can rage from a completely derelict property for sale right through to a property which simply needs some TLC to be brought back to life as a family home.

It also opens up the possibility to renovate many different types of buildings, like farm buildings, stone barns for conversion, outbuildings and other structures which were not originally built as homes, such as windmills, empty churches for sale, grain stores and other rural structures.

Of course, if you buy a property in the countryside which was a house all along but has simply fallen into disrepair, it may be much cheaper and easier for you to completely renovate the derelict property and revitalise it back into a family abode.

Make sure you look into all your options if you are starting from scratch when buying a property to renovate, there are so many variables but bare in mind that budgets are everything – don’t get caught out by spiralling costs on your renovation project. Due diligence is required if your search includes finding rundown houses for sale with a view to renovation.

Country Property FAQ

Where can I find a country property?

Start searching for your country property by looking online, talking to local estate agents and even going for a drive around the rural area you are interested in. Talk to local people, visit the local shop and pub and tell people what you are looking for. There may be an empty property or derelict building suitable for renovation which has bot yet been put on the market.

How do I buy a property in the countryside?

Find the property you are interested in and go on a viewing. It's better not to jump into anything, even if you feel excited about the property. View as many different options as you can and think carefully before placing an offer on any country property. Once you have decided on a house or building, simply submit an offer in the usual manner and wait to find out of your offer has been accepted.

How do I find unclaimed land or property in the countryside?

This is a lot more difficult as most land and buildings in the UK have an owner. If you do stumble across a potential property in the countryside and you wish to take a possible purchase or claim further, talk to the land registry for the country you are living in, such as England, Wales or Scotland. There are different laws regarding most aspects of property purchase and ownership in both England and Scotland.

Buying an established property in the country

This is the easier option as once you have bought your cottage or rural house in your desired area, you can simply move in. It can also be the more expensive option as the property will no doubt sell for at least the market value. If your country property is within commuting distance of a larger town or city, this will also affect the overall price.

For example, many people who work in London choose to live in the countryside where they enjoy a higher quality of life. Think about these two options before embarking on your search for a rural home. The rise of remote working also opens up new possibilities for many office and admin workers looking for a life in the countryside.

Narrow down your search by deciding what kind of property in the countryside you are looking for. It could be a partial or full renovation project or a completed or established house in a rural area. Try to determine your goals before beginning your rural property search.

Buying a barn conversion in the UK countryside

A quick word about buying a barn conversion – keep in mind that if you find a barn conversion for sale, meaning the work has already been done by someone else, you are going to pay “top dollar” as these conversions are often sold for much higher than the cost of the renovation itself.

As a brief example, one couple in Yorkshire bought a derelict farm building, namely a stone barn which has been beautifully converted into a stunning home. The original owners bought the building for £140,000, they spent around £120,000 on the renovation project and they sold the property when finished to our couple for £490,000 – a considerable profit.

Yes, the previous owners did all the work, but just along the road were a selection of very similar farm buildings for sale at much lower prices. Had they considered managing a renovation project themselves, they could have ended up with the same quality of rural house but at a fraction of the cost.

Derelict farms for sale

It is also worth conducting a search for derelict farms for sale in the part of the country you are interested in. Buying a derelict farm is not for everyone, but you can often acquire more buildings, land and development potential. However, if you have no interest in land or other buildings, it is not good policy to buy an entire derelict farm simply to acquire the farmhouse.

Image showing a country cottage in England
Many people buy a country property such as a rural cottage to use as a second home. Photo © Roger Smith (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Buying a country property as a second home

This type of rural living has become very popular in the UK during the last 20 years. There are two sides to this type of property venture – the owners perspective of owning a lovely second home in the country and the views of the local residents.

In some parts of rural Britain, such as Cornwall, Yorkshire, parts of the highlands of Scotland and the west country, there are areas where it has become near impossible for any local people, especially first time buyers, to purchase any property at all.

Wherever you buy your property, try to integrate into the local way of life, engage with your neighbours and use local shops and services where possible. This will make your life in the countryside a lot easier.

Buying a second home in the country also has it’s legal implications, such as council tax. In some parts of the UK the council tax is a lot more for a second home rather than your primary residence. See the links below for more information on council tax for empty properties or second homes:

UK Government advice on council tax for second homes

5 tips before you buy a property in the countryside

  1. Be honest with yourself – living in the countryside is not for everyone, it has both advantages and disadvantages. Think clearly about the type of lifestyle you want and whether you can realistically live in a remote or rural part of the UK
  2. Decide on the type of country property you are willing to look at – a new build, a renovation project, purchasing a completely derelict building, an older cottage or perhaps a village property for sale. Narrowing your search criteria will make finding your ideal country property much easier
  3. Be realistic about your property budget – work this out before you begin your search. This is a fast and easy way of discounting properties you cannot afford or renovation properties which are simply going to cost too much.
  4. Make a list of the amenities you need – this could be anything from a local school or shop to access to transport, commuter services and many more options. This will help to eliminate areas which are not suitable for the kind of lifestyle you are seeking
  5. Know your personal limits – if you are capable of renovating a property in the countryside then go for it, if you are not sure where to start then take advice. But if you do not have enough money for a renovation project or cannot manage such a tak, do not buy a building which is in need of renovation. Costs for renovating country properties such as farmhouses can spiral out of control.

Start your life in the countryside

We hope this article about finding and buying a property in the countryside has at least made you consider some of the options available. Keep visiting our site for more useful articles added every day which try to help prospective property buyers like you with the information you need.

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