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About editha

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  1. An update: We decided to sell our house in Canada a year earlier than we'd planned, and buy a house in Devon before we returned to the UK next year. This was for a number of reasons. In Canada the market is slow (though not as bad as the UK), but in our city, this spring, there was a temporary shortage of houses in the price range that includes our house, and our realtor advised us it was a good time to sell. This proved correct since we found a buyer within 3 months, which compares well with the length of time some of our neighbours have taken to sell their houses in the last few years. The downside is that now we have to rent here in Canada for the next twelve months, and rents here are higher than the UK. The upside is that we are in a position to buy a house in the UK now, and avoid having to rent for six months or so, when we return next year. Another incentive to buy in the UK this year is Osborne's dumb (IMO) "help to buy" scheme which is predicted will cause house price inflation. When we moved to Canada in '06 there was raging house price inflation here, but in the UK although prices were going up, the market was slower. We had a horrible nail-biting few months waiting for the sale of our house in the UK to go through, while the average price of properties in Edmonton Alberta was going up by $2,000 a week. Osborne's budget raised the spectre that we might be doomed to repeat the experience in reverse if waited until next year. Our house is now sold and I'm negotiating to buy a cottage on the Hartland peninsula in N. Devon. We haven't agreed a price yet, but I'm confident we will within a few days. I've taken your advice into account as well as advice I got from locals when I visited this year, and in previous years. The area we've chosen is isolated, in fact it is one of the most isolated areas in the West Country, but that doesn't bother me, and in some ways I see it as an advantage. I got no sense of antagonism to incomers when I was visiting. I expect we will encounter some, as we did in Staffordshire too. I did check out the weather and the "microclimate" and it seems favourable. North Devon, though not as sunny as the south coast, is a lot drier than the central area round Dartmoor. We haven't gone for a cob and thatch house. As well as the advice on this board, we were strongly advised against cob and thatch by friends of friends who ran a b&b in Devon for a long time and owned two traditional houses. But, the house we're buying does have some personality and it is going to be fun doing it up. Thank you all for your input.
  2. Thanks. I visited Clovelly 4 years ago, and made it down to the harbour and back! Thanks for all your replies.
  3. Thanks for the replies on Great Torrington. I still think it is a good match for our needs and tastes, so I'm keeping a close eye on prices there. There also seem to be a lot of bargains in the mid-Devon villages, the area north of Dartmoor and Okehampton. I was down that way this spring, and had a great time. I think the remoteness of some of the villages and poor transport links is off-putting, but on the other hand I'm wowed by the possibility of owning a classic cob and thatch cottage, and the countryside is fantastic.
  4. Does anyone know Torrington in Devon? There are a number of properties in the town in our price range, and look good value. All the information I've collected about the town looks good too. We used to live near the market town of Leek in Staffordshire. We liked the market town lifestyle: shopping in small shops, the pubs and small cafes and restaurants, and the sense of community. Leek is being spoiled by a new supermarket development, which is one of the reasons we are now looking elsewhere to retire. We considered Ludlow, which has made a real effort to maintain its small shops, but prices in the area are still sky high. Torrington seems to be the West Country Ludlow, having fought off a Tesco's planning application. It still has a bi-weekly market and its small shops seem to be thriving. Plus development is limited by the surrounding common land. I don't think I've ever been to Torrington, but I do know the surrounding countryside which is great for walking, and the RHS garden at Rosemoor just down the road. Given what a gem it is, prices seem low. So what's the catch?
  5. It's patchouli. I used to be a hippy myself. Crewkerne and Axminster have already come up in property searches. The Mendips seem pricey, because that is commuter country. Overall the Glastonbury area, and the Somerset Levels seem to have the most properties that tick all our boxes.
  6. Well, I'm looking all over. My husband will not want to be right beside the seaside. He grew up on a fishing boat -- quite literally, his father was a salmon fisherman in Victoria BC. He had enough of the sea when he was a kid. On the question of pricing out the locals, that's a complicated issue. I once owned a 5 bed house in Inner London, but since I moved out of London 17 years ago, if I wanted to move back, I would not be able to afford anything bigger than a 2 bed flat. So you could say that I'm a local who has been priced out. My understanding of the West Country, and places like it, is that locals resent second homers, who leave their property empty most of the year, but are less concerned about people moving in who bring money into a community and buy goods and services.
  7. On crime, I think you have to look beyond the statistics. When in London I experienced two muggings, two burglaries and our car was broken into several times. Before he met me, my husband had been mugged and injured. My husband got a job in Stoke on Trent, and we moved to a village just outside the city. In Stoke all the nightclubs are in Hanley, and it gets rowdy there on a Saturday night. We only experienced it once, and we felt disgusted by all the sick and pee everywhere, but that was all. We did not feel threatened, but we are middle-aged. I knew young people who'd been threatened with knives, or even injured in the clubs. In the village we lived in there was barely any crime at all. So, as far as we were concerned, despite the statistics, it was a safe area to live. Looking at the statistics for Yeovil and Chard, they are low for burglary and robbery, the two crimes that I feel threatened by. I do see that the anti-social behaviour stats are very high for both towns, higher than Stoke in fact, but if I was living in a village a few miles away, I doubt whether it would affect me.
  8. The long weekends idea is more or less what we've been planning to do. We'll arrive in the UK several weeks ahead of our furniture, so we'll be staying with my mum out of necessity. That would be a good time to take a trip to the West Country. However, our return is still two years in the future, so it is a bit early to be making those kind of plans.
  9. That would be the ideal, but not as easy as it sounds. Villages where we can afford to buy are not necessarily those where we can afford to rent, or where long term rental properties are available. I already part own my mother's home in East Sussex, and from a financial point of view it would make more sense to stay there until we buy somewhere. At the start of our retirement we'll be capital rich but income poor, and I'd not be keen on reducing our capital to pay rent. That's one of the difficulties with moving to the West Country. In the West Midlands we could rent a 2 bed house for 400 a month, but in a Somerset village the rent is likely to be at least 650.
  10. Thanks for the warning about Chard. Good to know, because it is on the edge of the area I've been looking at -- roughly the triangle of Glastonbury, Yeovil and Taunton.
  11. I'm living in Canada at the moment. My husband and I are planning to retire back to the UK in a couple of years time. We're torn between moving back to the West Midlands, where we still have friends, and the West Country, but we will probably choose the West Country. I've been keeping an eye on property prices for some time. Originally, I was only looking at the Bridport/Beaminster area, because I have family connections there, but the prices are really too high for us, so I've started looking further afield, in Devon and Somerset as well as Dorset. The area that seem to have the most suitable properties for our requirements and price range is South Somerset, I particularly like properties I've seen on Rightmove in Muchelney and North Cadbury. The problem is that I only know this area from holidays, and I don't think my experience of attending the Glastonbury Festival is a very good guide to living in the area! I'd appreciate the views of anyone with more knowledge than me.
  12. Hi I'm a bit late replying to this topic. I haven't checked out this forum for a while, but I guess you might still be monitoring replies occasionally. I think you've got a good idea moving to Stoke. I moved there from London in 97 and stayed until 06. Stoke gets a bad press, but it actually has a lot going for it. It is surrounded by some really lovely countryside, and is small enough to make the countryside accessible whichever part you are living in. People are friendlier than in London (the BNP supporters excepted), and it is not just property prices that are cheaper; the cost of living is significantly lower all round. There are downsides too. There is a neanderthal element, which resulted in several BNP councillors for a while. A good way of working out the areas to avoid would be to look at where the BNP vote is concentrated. Shopping facilities are poor, but Birmingham and Manchester are not that far away. If you are into eating out, then you might be disappointed by the standard of local restaurants. The centre of Hanley has a reputation for rowdy nightclubs (but then you might like rowdy nightclubs). The biggest problem is lack of employment, which forced us to move away after my husband was made redundant. For property, it is worth looking outside Stoke at Newcastle under Lyme, and the surrounding rural villages in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Prices are not much higher than Stoke itself, but accessibility to the M6 puts prices up a lot -- if you don't need the M6, avoid properties close to it.
  13. I've been keeping tabs on the Bridport and Beaminster area through Rightmove, because it is on our list of places to possibly retire to in a couple of years time. What I notice is that properties are not selling at all. According to Rightmove no house sales have been registered at the Land Registry since spring 2008. Some houses seem to have come down 25% in price without shifting. Others still look as if they're being offered at peak of the market valuations. I'm guessing that what is on the market is mostly second homes, with owners who think they can wait until the market recovers. So what will happen? Will prices crash in the area, or will the market recover? And how far should prices fall from their peak? I'd like people's opinions.
  14. Hi. We are also in Canada, and we are also intending to retire to the West Country. There the similarities end. We are in Edmonton where we moved from the UK in 06. My husband is a Canadian, who spent 25 years in the UK, but I'm English. We are not intending to move for a couple of years yet, but in the meantime I'm keeping an eye on the market. What I've observed about the areas in the West Country that I'm looking at is that the prices are fairly static, but property is not selling. A lot of asking prices are much too high. I recommend using the website Rightmove, not just for listings, but also for price comparison reports. They show the last properties to be registered at the Land Registry. In the two towns in Dorset I'm keeping tabs on, no houses have sold at all for over 2 years, which makes the asking prices little more than whistling in the wind. There are a lot of homes in the West Country owned as holiday lets or second homes. Second home owners can sometimes wait for prices to improve, but if nothing is selling at all, sooner or later prices are going to crash. If I were you, I'd certainly rent for a year. You have been in Canada a long time and things do change. You might not like Blighty as much as you think. But also prices have nowhere to go but down over the course of the next year.
  15. Thanks. Glad to hear I'm right about small houses and large gardens. It's amazing what you can work out from the internet isn't it? Before we moved to Alberta I spent a lot of time studying realtor's sites here and got a really good idea about where it would be good to buy. It saved a lot of time when we were looking for a house.
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