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United Kingdom Owners Guide

Owning a holiday home in the UK

It is a truism to say that no one buys a holiday home in the UK for the climate; in fact some of the most attractive areas of the country – the Western Isles, Wales, the Lake District or the West Country have highly unreliable climates. Property in Britain is also not cheap, so the chances of finding a heavenly farmhouse in a beautiful rural area are pretty slim – you need to look elsewhere if you want that dream at an affordable price. In spite of these two negatives, the UK has huge appeal as a second holiday home destination.

There is of course the familiarity of everything that makes buying and running a house a less worrying process than buying abroad. Dealing with lawyers, taxes, holiday home insurance, building regulations, utilities, surveys, maintenance, of other matters that are familiar and pretty uniform throughout the UK. Though of course there are variations – particularly in Scotland and you do need to allow for subtle cultural variations too, which are only apparent when you actually live in a place.

Not having to cross international borders (yet!) or to rely on a ‘plane or ferry to get you to your holiday home is also appealing.

Britain is second to none for its cultural interest. There are stunning cathedral cities with excellent museums throughout the country, rich in Roman, medieval, Georgian and Victorian history. London, Edinburgh, York, Exeter, Lincoln, Chester, Bath, and many others. London, of course, is a world-class capital, which arguably is only equalled by Paris in Europe. The great colonial and economic importance of Britain is reflected in cities such as Glasgow, Belfast, Birmingham and Liverpool and the world leading engineering history of Britain is reflected in its railways with their palatial stations, canals, dockyards and warehouses. All over the country there are, Neolithic ruins, historic houses, country churches and picturesque villages to explore, and a plethora of food, book, music and comedy festivals countrywide. In short there is always something interesting to explore.

If you are an outdoors pursuit type, even on this crowded island there is plenty to see and do in the great outdoors. In some areas, the island is wonderfully empty – in parts of Scotland and Wales for example, there is genuine majestic wild country. But all over the country there is excellent walking – through a comprehensive network of protected public footpaths. Verdant rolling countryside, large areas of open moor land readily accessible, haunting flat lands with large skies and a varied and extremely long coastline (much of which is available to be explored) invite the walker.

The sea offers surfing, sailing, and general messing about in boats and old-fashioned bucket and spade fun on some delightful sandy beaches, plus the chance to enjoy those occasions when the sun appears and glistens over our fine shorelines.

British people, despite the perception of being reserved are generally tolerant and ultimately welcoming, particularly when you get involved in the life of the area where your holiday home is, in some way. And you will have the advantage of understanding the subtleties and quirks of British life already. Join the local ramblers/tennis club/riding stables/history society and you will soon feel at home from home.

Learning About Britain and getting about:

Explore the country and find out what you like, what compromises to local customs you might have to make and what is important to you on balance. Find out how long it takes to travel to your holiday home and from your holiday home to places of interest. Go in all seasons to see how things are in a deep dark winter, particularly in places like seaside towns, which, can be very different in character outside of the spring and summer seasons. If you will want to rent out your holiday home this will be a particularly important piece of research. Summer is short in the UK, however many people enjoy taking breaks in the autumn and winter when things calm down and there is not as much hustle a bustle.

Service and product providers

The practical essentials of owning property, particularly when you live remotely from it most of the time. When planning to take on a holiday home, you must ensure that you budget for any mortgage payments and necessary insurance. Buildings’ and contents’ insurance for the holiday home, second home local authority council tax and any service charges if in a communal setting. Utility bills, TV licence, broadband etc. Someone to keep an eye on the place – and hold a key, plumbers for burst pipes, gardeners to keep the house looking neat and lived in, builders for maintenance and extensions etc.

Things to do when you are there:

Making the most of the area that you have chosen to live in. Getting involved in the local community, culture, entertainment, miscellane- ous activities, keeping fit and healthy.

Renting out your holiday home:

You may plan from the start to rent out your holiday home for holiday use, or you may find this option more attractive at some point in the future. Your holiday home will then need to be kept in tiptop condition, with clean furniture in good condition and pristine crisp linen. Adequate holiday home insurance will be required which should include liability cover and loss of rent. If you are going to rent your home for holiday lets a Freeview TV with DVD player may not be enough for today’s renters, particularly when unreliable weather confines people indoors. You might wish to invest in providing a full entertainment package, multi-channel television and Wi-Fi. In that case you will not just be looking at a TV licence but the cost of ongoing cable/satellite packages, broadband, however these added luxury’s will hopefully enhance the income you could earn from holiday home lets.