There’s a real dilemma facing the countryside today. We want to encourage city dwellers out here, bringing their spending power, keeping local shops and pubs going, and contributing to the economy. Urbanites have every right to enjoy the beauty of the fresh air, heavenly Suffolk skies, the wonderful local produce, and to relax and recharge.
What nobody wants though is for local families who have been in villages to be priced out as much sought-after one and two bedroom cottages are snapped up and prices spiral. The average detached house in Suffolk is £336,000; the average gross wage just £19,800. “Ghost communities” where 40% of all the houses are now second-homes now exist all up and down the Suffolk coast. Long-term average second home occupancy worldwide is just ten days a year. Homes are far too precious a resource to be used in this way.
Nor is second home ownership as attractive a dream as it might first seem. Stamp duty changes mean just buying a £300,000 second home will set you back £14,000 straight off. You have to furnish and equip the property and then each time you come up all the maintenance to do – grass cutting and gutter clearing. The council tax and utilities are payable for all the time you’re not there. Many feel obliged to spend time in the property because they’ve bought it, to make the purchase worthwhile: it becomes an obligation rather than an enjoyment.
We, Dominic and Peter, have thought long and hard about these issues and believe we have squared a circle. There has to be an intelligent solution that gets city dwellers out into the country, giving them a real, long-term stake in its future, but not forcing out locals. There has to be a hassle free way to have a permanent rural pad where everything is taken care of, and where you can start to relax and revitalise the moment you arrive. The 21st century sharing economy vibe must be capable of extending to providing a socially sustainable, beautiful environment that works for everyone.
Welcome to Retreat East.