Live-work homes are more popular than ever as we seek to escape to coast and country. Sharon Dale reports.
There is often a flurry of enquiries when a live-work property hits the market in a Yorkshire beauty spot.
The calls and emails are from a combination of dreamers and those who are absolutely determined to escape the daily grind for a new life in the country or on the coast. Interest in homes that come with a ready-made income stream has increased over the past ten years and it’s no surprise that this mirrors a rise in working hours, stress and traffic congestion in our towns and cities.
Would-be buyers are from all over Britain, with a growing number from London, according to estate agent Richard Thompson, of Marcus Alderson estate agents in Richmond, who calls the trend “cashing in and coming up”.
“You find that people get to 40 and they have had enough of London and want to get out. They are fed-up of grinding themselves into a coffin and they want to start afresh and live in a more pleasant environment.”
Police officers who retire from the force at 55 but aren’t ready to put their feet up, are also prevalent among those looking at live-work options. “There are many examples of people buying businesses they have no previous experience of and making a success of them,” says Richard.
He points to Darren and Emily Abbey, who bought the Farmers Arms in Muker, Swaledale, six years ago. Darren worked in construction and Emily worked in a solicitor’s office before they bought the popular freehouse pub. It offered a good income but they have since built on that and it now generates a £120,000 annual net profit. It is on the market with Marcus Alderson for £525,000 as the couple are selling to start a family.
“When people think of pubs they think of a declining industry but the Farmers Arms is thriving. Muker is small but the pub serves the whole parish in upper Swaledale. It’s the hub of the community and we also have lots of walkers, cyclists, campers and people staying at local holiday cottages. Food is a big part of what we do. It’s bar meals, nothing pretentious, just the sort of food we like,” says Darren.
The secret of its success is that it is still a traditional Dales pub with lots of character, a warm welcome, no wi-fi and no TV.
The property also comes with a one to two-bedroom flat and a separate converted barn with a holiday let on the first floor and the possibility of turning the ground-floor storage area into an an income-generating space.
“When we came here we had no idea how to run a pub but learning wasn’t difficult. We put a lot of hours in at first, about 90 a week, but we have got that down to 50 in the summer and less in winter,” says Darren.
“It offers a lovely life in a beautiful part of the world and the only reason we are selling is because we want children and we don’t think we can give 100 per cent to the pub, our marriage and a family. We employ staff and the profit means the next owners could make it even easier by employing more people if they want to.”
Over on the coast, Natalie Locker of Astins estate agency in Whitby fields calls that mostly come from Leeds, London and York. “People want to get away from the hustle bustle now more than ever so we get a lot of buyers looking for a lifestyle change.” While many look at guest houses as a live-work option, B&Bs can be hard to sell, according to Natalie, who says that tea rooms are very popular.