Escape to the country: The UK’s top 5 retreats

After almost a whole year working from home, it’s no surprise that more and more people are swapping the cramped confinement of city dwelling for the rolling countryside.

According to Rightmove, the number of city residents contacting estate agents to buy a home in a village rose by 126% in June and July 2020 compared with the same period the year before.

The escape to the country continued in September, with nine areas with populations of under 11,000 seeing buyer searches doubling from 2019.

If you long for green spaces and a better quality of life, here are five of the UK’s top retreats to consider.

1. Orkney, Northern Isles of Scotland

Orkney was crowned Scotland’s best place to live for the eighth year in a row in the Bank of Scotland Quality of Life survey 2020.

With its unspoilt landscapes and coastline, you couldn’t be further away from city life. The stunning scenery is no doubt a major contributor towards Orkney residents’ high level of wellbeing. A survey by the Office for National Statistics found adults in Orkney have the second-highest life satisfaction in the whole of the UK, with a rating of 8.4 out of 10.

People in Orkney also benefit from high employment, low crime rates, smaller class sizes and more affordable housing. Data from Rightmove puts the average house price at just £161,668.

If you’re looking for somewhere peaceful where your children or grandchildren can play safely outside, this could be it.

2. East Hertfordshire, East of England

If you want to be close to the UK capital but without the hustle and bustle, East Hertfordshire might be your cup of tea.

Crowned the best place to live in Britain in the latest Halifax Quality of Life survey, East Hertfordshire is home to more than a hundred villages and hamlets. These include the picturesque village of Much Hadham, which has its own museum featuring Tudor wall paintings and a local history gallery.

East Hertfordshire benefits from high life expectancy, good health and happiness scores, and excellent schools. The downside is house prices are typically more than the UK average. According to the Land Registry, houses in East Hertfordshire cost an average £386,743.

3. Beddgelert, Wales

Fancy a home where you can pop up a mountain or wonder at legends gone by? If so, Beddgelert in Snowdonia National Park could be for you.

With a population of just 455 at the last census, Beddgelert is a beautiful stone-built village. It is one of the stop-off points on the Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog.

Complete with dramatic hiking terrain and the legend of Prince Llewelyn ap Iorwerth’s trusty dog Gelert, it could be a great home for adventurous spirits.

According to Rightmove, the average house price in Beddgelert is £245,528.

4. Waddington, Lancashire

The village of Waddington in Lancashire made The Sunday Times’ list of the top ten places to live in the North West.

The judges said Waddington was “their favourite of the picturesque stone villages and a place that best sums up the unspoilt northern charm of this happiest of valleys”.

Set in the heart of the Ribble Valley, Waddington has fantastic walks, a café, a social club, three pubs and a children’s play park area. The average house price, according to Rightmove, is £359,410.

5. Clovelly, North Devon

Clovelly in North Devon is one of the prettiest villages in the UK. With its white cottages and cobbled streets, living in this coastal village will feel like a permanent holiday.

Set on a 400-foot cliff, there’s even an ancient harbour with a thriving fishing industry. There is no vehicular traffic – just donkeys and sledges. Clovelly offers long walks along the cliff tops where you can take in the beautiful scenery.

The average house price, according to Zoopla, is £259,060.

Get in touch

If you’d like help making your dream home a reality, please get in touch. Email or call 0131 339 2281.

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5 questions to ask yourself if you’re unmarried and buying a house

Like an increasing number of couples in the UK, you and your partner might be considering buying your first home without getting married.

This could be because you want to get a foot onto the property ladder as quickly as possible, you don’t want a wedding eating into your house deposit, or you simply don’t believe in tying the knot.

Whatever the reason, buying a property as an unmarried couple can have lots of legal and financial consequences. Regardless of how long you and your partner live together, you won’t have the same legal rights as a married couple or a couple in a civil partnership.

Without the correct documentation in place, you could find yourself severely out of pocket if your relationship breaks down. If you’re unmarried and buying a house, here are five questions you must ask yourself.

1. How will we own our home?

When you buy a house as a couple, there are two ways in which you can legally own it: as joint tenants or as tenants in common.

If you’re joint tenants, your house will belong to each of you jointly. You won’t own a specific share of your home, and you won’t be able to pass on a share of your home in your will. When you die, your interest in the property will automatically pass to the other owner.

In contrast, tenants in common each own a specific share of the property’s value. You can give away your share, sell it, or pass it to a named beneficiary in your will when you die.

2. How much money are we investing in the property?

The difference between joint tenancy and tenancy in common matters most when you’re deciding how much money you’ll each put into your property.

The law assumes that joint tenants own their house equally, regardless of how much money each person contributes. Unlike married couples, a judge won’t look at what is ‘fair’ when deciding how to distribute assets when you split up.

Instead, they’ll usually order that the house is sold and the proceeds are divided equally. So, if you’re joint tenants, you could end up with 50% of the sale proceeds even if you paid the whole deposit and made most of the mortgage repayments. 

If you’re tenants in common, you can draw up a legally binding document setting out the percentage of the property you own. This document could prove vital in avoiding financial uncertainty if your relationship breaks down.

3. Do we want a cohabitation agreement?

Entering into a cohabitation agreement is one way of ensuring you’re protected if your relationship comes to an end. As unromantic as it sounds, it can help to reduce the chances of additional acrimony at a stressful and upsetting time.

A cohabitation agreement sets out:

  • Who owns what and in what proportion
  • How your property, belongings, savings and other assets will be split if your relationship ends
  • How your children will be supported
  • What will happen to bank accounts, debts and other joint purchases.

You can also set out how you’ll manage your daily finances, including how much money each person will contribute to the mortgage and other bills.

Bear in mind that a cohabitation agreement is only legally binding if both parties have received independent legal advice.

4. Should we get a joint bank account?

A joint bank account can make it simpler to share money and pay household bills, including your mortgage. However, there are some potential drawbacks.

First, if your partner has a poor credit score, it could affect your own credit score and reduce your chances of being approved for financing in the future.

Second, if you have a bad break-up, there’s a risk your partner could take all the money out of the account, with little chance of you recovering it. If the account becomes overdrawn, each account holder is responsible for paying back the cash, meaning you could end up paying your ex’s debts.

5. Have I made a will?

Making a will is extremely important because it helps to ensure you’re financially protected if the other person dies.

As mentioned before, owning a home as tenants in common can make the division of assets fairer if you split up. However, it also means your share of the property won’t automatically go to your partner if you die.

By making a will, you can ensure your partner inherits your share. If you prefer, you could structure your will so that part of your share goes to your partner and the rest to any children you have from a previous relationship.

Bear in mind that if unmarried partners have children together, your children could inherit everything if one of you dies. In a worst-case scenario, this could result in you having to make a legal claim against your children for financial provision.

Get in touch

If you’re an unmarried couple and would like advice on buying a home and protecting your finances, please get in touch. Email or call 0131 339 2281.

Please note

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.

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Your complete guide to mortgages

At some point in our lives, most of us will need to take out a mortgage if we aspire to own a home. Yet, mortgages and the process of securing one can still be filled with jargon and other complexities. Our guide aims to provide you with all the information you need when searching for a mortgage, whether as a first-time buyer or you’re hoping to move up the ladder.

Continue reading

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3 ways your property could fund your care

If you’re concerned about how you’ll pay for your care in old age, you’re not alone.

Research by Nationwide suggests two-thirds of British homeowners over the age of 50 worry about covering later-life care bills. Continue reading

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5 reasons you need to make a will now

Making a will is an important job that many of us simply never get round to doing.

Recent research from Canada Life shows three in five (59%) UK adults have not written a will. This equates to 31 million Brits whose property, money, and other assets could end up in the wrong hands when they die. Continue reading

Posted in Inheritance, Inheritance Tax, Protection, Wills | Leave a comment

Why are lenders putting up rates and what does it mean for you?

Several mortgage lenders have increased interest rates over the past month, marking another blow for cash-strapped UK households.

Halifax, NatWest and Nationwide are just some of the major lenders whose fixed-rate deals are more expensive than they were a few months ago. Continue reading

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Chancellor announces new Covid-19 economic support – everything you need to know

Back in July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a second range of measures designed to protect the economy through the Covid-19 pandemic.

His next update was scheduled to be the Autumn Statement in the coming weeks. However, given the newly imposed Covid-19 restrictions and economic uncertainty, the Budget has been cancelled. Continue reading

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Why potential tax changes mean it’s time to consider limited company Buy to Let

Supporting the UK through lockdown has cost the government hundreds of billions of pounds. So, in the coming months and years, it’s likely that the Chancellor will have to make some tough taxation and spending decisions as he tries to plug the hole in the public purse.

One of the taxes Rishi Sunak is most likely to reform is Capital Gains Tax (CGT). This is paid when an individual disposes of an asset and makes a gain of more than £12,300 (in the 2020/21 tax year). Landlords who own rental property and who make significant gains can see part of their profits wiped out by this tax. Continue reading

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Revealed: Where to buy student Buy to Let property to generate great rental yields

Right now, many students are heading off to university and settling into their term-time homes.

Finding good quality accommodation grows harder every year, thanks to a steadily increasing student population. In fact, according to UCAS, the number of undergraduate applicants set to start their courses this autumn has reached a record 500,000 students. Continue reading

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Mortgage payment holidays are ending – here’s everything you need to know

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the finances of millions of households across the UK. With many sectors hit hard, the furlough scheme has supported jobs while the government made a range of grants and loans available to aid businesses through lockdown.

On an individual level, almost one in six mortgage holders in the UK took a mortgage payment holiday under a scheme devised by lenders and the Treasury. Continue reading

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