If money were no object, we’d probably all have a second house in the country. There’s something eternally wholesome and appealing about the thought of living tucked away in the woods or meadows, in a snug, quiet home with only birdsong for company. The modern concept of a country home dates back several centuries to the days when your average aristocrat or landed gentry would split their time between important urban business and relaxed rural life. They would typically own both town and country homes, which is where the enduring association between county living and wealth was established. These days, we still tend to associate the term ‘country home’ with luxury and status, although there are now many styles of rural abode to choose from - some even at the budget end of the scale. Despite the broad array of country homes on offer, they tend to be simple relatively simple constructions made from a high proportion of natural materials. They can be old farmhouses or barn conversions, wooden cabins, stone cottages, a traditional stately home, lodge, or contemporary dwelling. If you’re considering a move to the country, you’ll need to think carefully about the exact location, size and style of your prospective home, and whether you want to build from scratch or buy or renovate an existing property.
For those who lament seeing built up urban architecture and jungles of concrete and glass, country life is certainly for you. Imagine, every morning, watching the sun rise and set below an expanse of blue water or rippling trees. With a view to die for, you can imagine days filled with hikes, walks and lying in the grass enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. In some major cities, these escapes are found quite close, so if you want access to both worlds, you have the opportunity to choose a town that is not located too far from a major city, but far enough that you can still feel a sense of seclusion and release. Other benefits to country living are that the air is clean, your neighbours are (probably) friendly, and of course, it’s far cheaper to get a larger plot of land for the same money you would pay for a studio apartment in the city. It’s also great for raising children, having the pets you always dreamed of, and of course, a big veranda and outdoor area to spend your evenings enjoying drinks or tea with friends. Here, you need not worry about pollution and confusion. You can permanently be in your own bubble of health and vitality.
It goes without saying that living in a town or city means you have better access to airports, train stations and buses, and therefore, your world has greater possibilities for travel. For those who are unsettled, and live by the mantra ’The world is your oyster,’ rural living may not be quite right. For those who aren’t precious about space and find themselves rarely at home, city life is usually the better option. A plethora of cafes, restaurants and bistros will be at your mercy, given your kitchen space is probably at a premium. This situation is ideal for those who aren't too concerned with home cooking, instead, preferring to savour the flavours of the boroughs or neighbourhoods they live in. Country living certainly requires a peaceful state of mind and a willingness to step away from the buzz of towns and cities. You’ll need to make sure that you have enough contact with the people you love, and structure your life in a way that keeps you busy and organised. Country living also requires a relatively sturdy constitution, as you’ll inevitably end up dealing with spiders and all sorts of other creepy-crawlies on a regular basis.
If your heart is set on a move to the country, the next thing you’ll need to consider is exactly what type of home you’re after. Will you build and design it from scratch, and if so, which materials will you choose? Traditional options are wood or stone, but modern brick, concrete or a contemporary combination of the above are all possibilities these days. Don’t forget to enlist the help of an experienced architect to guide you through the process right from the start. If you’re hoping to renovate instead of build, think about the kind of property you need. Will a farmhouse or barn conversion work, or would you rather go for a smaller cottage or lodge? Of course the current state of the building will greatly affect the time your project takes, as well as the final cost and result. In terms of costs, rural homes tend to be, on average, around £40k more expensive than their urban counterparts. They range from an average of £140k in Cumbria to a hefty £460k in Buckinghamshire. If you’re looking at a barn conversion, the price per square foot is around £120, although this will vary greatly depending on the area and condition of the property.