I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me and be happy.
The words of Robert Ferrars, a character in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility perfectly sum up Britain’s love affair with country cottages. With their thatched roofs, cosy dimensions and picturesque surroundings, cottages have transcended their origins as homes for humble serfs to become the nation’s favourite country property, commanding a price tag that often belies the space and number of rooms on offer.
Research has found that a chocolate-box cottage with three or four bedrooms costs an average £625,553 — that is 3.3 times the average UK property price. Such a high valuation is all the more remarkable when you consider that cottages offer less value per square foot compared with more grand country homes.
Despite having a tendency toward low ceilings and smaller rooms, cottages ooze charm and are often breathtaking. Their small, pretty gardens and compact dimensions mean they can make a manageable property for downsizers and retirees.
The gold-standard cottages date from the 16th century and are usually listed. They often have social importance — particularly the likes of an old forge or mill that represented the heart of a village community. Their location in quaint rural communities where you’d never get permission to build these days doesn’t detract from their allure. Furthermore, cottages are rising faster in value than any other type of country property, according to research. The price of cottages has risen 3.7 per cent year-on-year and 12.5 per cent over the past five years. Comparatively, farmhouses and rectories have risen in value over the past year by 1.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively, while manor house prices have dropped by 0.6 per cent.
So where are the best places to buy a quintessential country cottage? Make sure the village is as attractive as the house. Look for an active community, one with a picture-perfect church and primary school, that has a station near by.
Inspired by Iona Bain, The Times Newspaper.