There are two distinct types of occasional occupiers who own lock-up-and-leave properties, each with specific criteria, but both with similar concerns to address.
One is the escapee from London and the Home-Counties, looking for a more serene and uplifting existence. This particular neck of the woods is attracting ever more interest from such a purchaser and now is not a bad time to buy.
The other is the habitual traveller who needs to have a home that they can be confident of enjoying every time they return to it.
So what makes a good bolthole? Ideal properties are often those with close neighbours and communal grounds such as Wardour Court near Tisbury or The Lattiford Estate near Wincanton. There are, however, a few overriding factors that any seeker of such a property will have to consider:
Convenience – The property has to be conveniently located, not only to reach, but also for the everyday activities, interests and amenities that its owners will want to enjoy. Will they want to jump in a car every weekend or be more content to use the train and walk to their house? Tisbury and Castle Cary are ideal locations for the latter choice with their mainline stations and boutique shops, while for those opting to drive, a location within striking distance of the A303 is valuable. A good local Inn is a requirement for many people, as are nearby leisure facilities and shops.
Security – So important if the property is going to be empty for long periods of time. Ideally it should have close neighbours or a community who can keep an eye on it and a very good security system. A property on its own, in the middle of nowhere is courting trouble. Insurance should also be carefully considered and many insurers will have specific demands.
Maintenance – The property should ideally be up together and if it is a period house it should have an ongoing maintenance routine to keep it in top shape. It is amazing how a small lapse in upkeep can cause major problems down the line. There is a balance to be had between period charm and modern practicality and these need to be weighed carefully before commitment. The garden will also be an issue and should be regularly maintained so that every visit need not be taken up with sheer hard work.
Communication – Occasional occupiers may not feel the need to pay for a landline rental which means that a good mobile reception is normally essential. There are pockets which are renowned for their poor reception, but this needn’t be a deal breaker as signal boosters are efficient and not too expensive.
If you are an occasional occupier and need some help there are specific managers of second homes around who can provide piece of mind in the majority of cases. Services include routine visits, maintenance, gardening, cleaning, fridge filling and more. Alternatively a simple empty property management service can cover the essentials, ensuring that the time that you do spend in your bolthole is valuable and stress free.