The UK is Europe’s most expensive place to flatshare

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

It used to be that you could safely assume that everyone who was sharing a flat was paying less than those who rented a home alone, or paid a mortgage. Now new research is putting that claim to bed.

Whose turn is it to do the washing up? We’re paying more than anyone else in Western Europe to live in a flatshare

The UK is the most expensive country in Western Europe when it comes to flatsharers, who pay on average £360 per month, or five per cent more than their European counterparts. The research is based on analysis of 33,000 UK, French, Italian and Spanish rental properties by

The average rent in the UK is 56 per cent higher than what it is in Spain, where the average room costs £230 per month. France is the second most expensive country for renters with an average room rent of £342 per month, while in Italy, rents are £282 pcm, 22 per cent cheaper than in the UK.

“Flatsharers in the UK face much higher bills at the end of the month than their European counterparts,” says Jonathan Moore of “The combination of unaffordably high house prices with the ongoing lending crunch in the UK is leaving hundreds of thousands of frustrated buyers dependent on rental accommodation.”

Moore estimates that nearly 100,000 people have started sharing flats in the past year and this demand is driving up the cost of flatsharing.

And while flatsharing remains a right of passage for students and the recently qualified, it now seems the days of roughing it in a sharehouse when you’re a bit older in order to save for other things, may soon become an unaffordable thing of the past.

What next? Moving back in with the parents and paying board?

November 23, 2011 at 4:57 PM Leave a comment

A Kent home with a hidden secret

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

The Old Cottage in Bickley, Kent, is a very fine property to look at, but, like the best homes, it gives us more – in this case a mysterious window into the past.

The Old Cottage harbours secrets …

This eight-bedroom Grade-II listed house, parts of which date back to 1599, is arguably the oldest private home in the London Borough of Bromley, and as such you’d expect it to harbour a few secrets.

Look behind the curious Pelican fireplace to find one of The Old Cottage’s secrets

Walk into its south-facing bedroom and you’ll see a curious looking  fireplace and chimney decorated with an unusual scene – a pelican mother preparing to sacrifice its life for that of its youngsters.

The interesting stuff is actually happening behind this adorned chimney. Tucked away here is the real surprise: a priest hole – the term given to the secret hiding places for priests that were built into many Catholic houses in the period when Catholics were persecuted in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

The Old Cottage gate dates the home to 1599

The priest hole at The Old Cottage was discovered during renovation work along with several books from the same period, including one written in verse that could be read in two directions – across or down – and depending on the way it was read would appear to support either Catholic or Protestant faith.

The current owners, who’ve lived at The Old Cottage for the past 15 years and undertaken restoration work to transform the property into a family home, have also done an impressive job of tracing the ownership of the home back to the 17th Century when it belonged to The Walker family and was known by the name Wigmore. Then, in 1853 the property was bought by Henry Telford, a London-based sherry importer who happened to be in business with the father of John Ruskin – the leading Victorian art critic and champion of the Pre-Raphaelites. Both father and his famous son were regular visitors to the home.

There are stories everywhere you look in The Old Cottage – downstairs is a wine cellar, made from square chalk blocks that are thought to pre-date the rest of the house. Like so many homes of this vintage, the house has a mix of styles and influences as it evolved over the past 400 years – from the Elizabethan gate house to the its small cast-iron Victorian era fireplaces that dot the bedrooms.

Luckily for us, The Old Cottage, is willing to give up at least some of its secrets.

The Old Cottage is on the market with a guide price of £1.5 million through Jackson-Stops & Staff.

November 23, 2011 at 10:29 AM 2 comments

Home hunting goes mobile

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Far more of us are searching for a new home via our mobile phones than we were a year ago.

To meet this demand, has developed a special site that’s optimised especially for use on your smartphone.

Access from your phone and you’ll be automatically diverted to our mobile site where you’ll be able to use the latest interactive geo-location technology to find homes for sale and rent where ever you are. The site is also stuffed with features, tips, and advice to help you on your home hunting journey.

November 17, 2011 at 6:08 PM 2 comments

Gino D’Acampo’s Italian love affair with his Hertfordshire home

This time two years ago, celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo was gobbling up grubs and insects on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. This year, he’s enjoying being at home in Hertfordshire, and preparing for Christmas.

D’Acampo, who was crowned king of the jungle in 2009, bought his Elstree home about three years ago for a reported £575,000 and has since spent £300,000 renovating the six-bedroom home. It’s the third home in England he’s owned and counts himself to be in a very fortunate position.

“I’ve never rented in my life,” he says. “I’ve always been very lucky that the first place that I lived in, I bought it straight away in Borehamwood. Then I bought another house in Borehamwood and then I bought my third and final house in Elstree.”

And the chef and author says he couldn’t be happier about it, although perhaps not for the reason you might think.

“My mother in law lives about a mile away from me, and I get along with my mother in law very very well,” he says, laughing. “Also, my office is there, all my friends are there, I just love the place because you’re very close to everything, you’re on the M25, you’re on the M1, A1 and it’s 20 minutes from London. Elstree is just a great place to be.”

D’Acampo says his stint in the jungle two years ago made him appreciate home, although the affect wore off too fast.

“As human beings we are so stupid,” he says. “It made me appreciate everything for four or five days and then I got back into the same old habits straight away. How weird is that?

“I promised myself that I will be without a mobile phone for one day a week. If I can do it for 24 days, why can I not do it for one day a week? I think it lasted for two weeks.”

D’Acampo, who grew up in Naples, used to own a property on the Italian island of Sardinia but sold it about two years ago for 700,000 euro – a very tidy profit.

“What’s the point of owning a house in Italy if you only go there for two weeks a year?” But he concedes the villa on the beach is still a dream, albeit one he may not realise for a few years.  “When I get older I will probably buy another house in Italy again. It will be on the island of Sardinia because that’s my favourite place in the world.”

Gino D’Acampo is a celebrity ambassador at The Ideal Home Show at Christmas, which is running from November 16 to 20, 2011, at London’s Earls Court. It’s open daily from 10am-6pm and until 9pm on Thursday.  Call the ticket hotline on 0844 209 7330, or visit the website .

November 16, 2011 at 7:03 PM Leave a comment

What’s going on with new build homes in East London?

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

If you thought the slick new builds of East London were just for city boy owner-occupiers, then you’d be very much mistaken.

The internal courtyard and water feature at Barratt Homes Maple Quays development which has proved popular with overseas investors

Barratt Homes regional sales director Gerald Thomas says each of the company’s East London developments also have a portion of investors, and many of them are from the Far East – places like Hong Kong, Singapore and in some cases mainland China.

Most popular with investors – who make up about 35 per cent of purchasers – are Barratt Home’s flagship East London projects: Maple Quays, adjacent to Canada Water tube station, and Dalston Square, next door to the new Dalston Junction Overground Station.

Both developments will get you to work in lightening quick time: Dalston Square is 20 minutes from the City, while Maple Quays is two minutes from Canary Wharf and four minutes to London Bridge. Add to this the potential rental yields of up to 6% for Maple Quays and up to 7%  for Dalston Square and you start to get a picture about why buyers from abroad are such fans.

It’s not just the location that excites buyers. Maple Quays, which when it’s finished will comprise 900 homes, is clearly a very pleasant place to live. There’s a communal roof terrace with panoramic views of the City, a residents’ gym, a concierge and an internal garden with its own water features.

St Andrews is built on the site of a Victorian hospital which inspired the balconies and architecture

This is also true of Dalston Square, which will have 553 new homes when it’s completed, and also applies to Barratt’s other projects nearby, including, the Renaissance in Lewisham, St Andrews in Bromley-by-Bow and Waterside Park in Newham (where construction is underway). So long as buyers are reconciled to the neighbourhood, these homes can seduce with their sparkling good looks – think high spec kitchens, well-sized rooms, proximity to transport and five-year warranties.

So investors and private owner-occupiers tend to love them, but they’re not the only ones.

These developments are mixed tenure, which means that under Section 106 of the of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Barratts must, as a condition of the development, provide social housing and improved facilities, for instance a new library (as at Dalston Square and Maple Quays), swimming pool or leisure centre (as at the Renaissance in Lewisham).

The proportion of social housing is different at each development. For instance, Dalston Square and Waterside Park are 35% social, St Andrews is 50%, while Maple Quays is 26% and The Renaissance in Lewisham is 18%.

But it’s not just about housing accessibility. Mixed tensure homes are essentially about community regeneration, says Thomas. “Developers have got cleverer about helping councils finance regeneration,” he says, so the services that are built along with the homes are now better tailored to community needs. And that goes at least some of the way to explaining why these developments are garnering a lot of interest from investors, owner-occupiers and first-time buyers.

November 15, 2011 at 10:31 AM Leave a comment

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