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The Good Life – Increased demand for the rural idyll

Living off the land and becoming more self-sufficient has been on many agenda for a long time.  Emma Chalmers looks at the reasons why and her own experience during lockdown. 

There are countless television programmes advocating the benefits and personal joys of growing one’s own fruit and veg, having a few hens, making jam, bee keeping, having your own sheep, pigs, goats or even a Highland Coo or two!

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage has extolled the virtues of rural life for over two decades and back in the 70’s Tom and Barbara Good in the sitcom ‘The Good Life’ highlighted a different life in suburbia.

Today we have the new Kate Humble TV series – ‘A Country Life for Half the Price’. The common thread in all of these is the appealing lifestyle the countryside can offer to those seeking a rural life with all that encompasses.

Whether in urban or rural areas the increasing desire to grow or make our own food has seen a huge rise in popularity recently. During lockdown baking has flourished and flour mills have struggled with demand. Seed companies have had to periodically close their websites whilst they catch up with orders for vegetable seeds as many new gardeners make space in their gardens for a vegetable patch. A Perthshire feed merchant has seen its ‘ hens for sale’ side line grow exponentially for orders of two or three birds to keep at home to provide families with their own fresh daily egg supply.

This renewed interest to move to the country and set up a different lifestyle will, in my opinion, now become a priority on the property search list for many.

Whether the desire is for a cottage with a large garden or a house with a few acres or a small farm extending to perhaps 50 or 100 acres will depend on specific locations and individual budgets.

Specialising in rural property sales and valuations, Galbraith has a long and highly respected history of this particular market. I have been working in this field for over 17 years and have a strong personal interest and hands on experience of rural property as my husband and I have owned the same country cottage for over 20 years!

We feel extremely blessed to be living in rural Perthshire, where we own our own 7.5 acre smallholding with all the expected elements; sheep, hens, orchards, vegetable garden, wood and even a Highland Coo Calf called Hamish! The lockdown experience for our family has been eased somewhat through living in the country where we are lucky to have space, big skies, fresh air and lots for the children to learn whilst going about daily life and helping with our livestock. I can fully appreciate why many I speak to are thinking about upping sticks and re-locating to a similar rural idyll.

As a family, during lockdown, we have finally created the four vegetable beds we have talked about for 3 years! Our hens are making us proud with a regular daily supply and we are waiting the arrival of lambs from our 9 expectant ewes. The fruit trees are flowering with beautiful blossom and our fingers remain crossed for no late frosts!

The local producers and suppliers, who have risen to the challenge of ensuring we all have access to what we need, by quickly setting up their amazing home delivery services, have without doubt, been heroes to us all with the reliance of the supermarket being only for a few staples such as baked beans and chocolate!

Technology has allowed us to work successfully from home; ensuring we connect frequently with our clients and buyers whether by phone, email, Zoom, Facetime or WhatsApp. All of which allow us to conduct business and introduce virtual viewings to those buyers and vendors keen to keep up some momentum during lockdown. This, together with our strong social media presence, our own website and the property portals mean our properties remain very much visible to the world.

The world of estate agency has changed and is unlikely to return to the same model we knew in February but as rural specialists we will hopefully be part of individual life changes for those moving later in the year.