Viewing Rental Houses in North Norfolk

Since arriving over 5 months ago, the rental market in North Norfolk has continued to be very slow and sparse.  The opposite in the buying market – there are tons of homes to buy, especially ones in the £700,000 POUNDS mark! I can only surmise that many of those owners are struggling to make their monthly payments and NEED to sell.  One could try and make the case that there are so many second homes up here and those are the ones they are selling, but that is NOT the case.  If you do a search for homes on the Right Property for sale, you’ll see.  Today alone, there are EIGHTY (80) homes for sale in Sheringham (NR26).   These are not one or two bedroom places (small holiday cottages), but rather good sized family homes with a minimum of 3 bedrooms.  When I run the same exact search for homes to rent, I get FOUR (4)!  Two are maisonettes aka tiny apartments above shops/restaurants and two are homes – both of which we have appointments to view next week.  We were to see them this week, until the tundra took over.   When you expand 5-10 miles beyond the NR26 area, you get a couple more options – again, those applicable we’ll see. 
The Telegraph just wrote an article about Norfolk: one of the few unspoiled (aka English way – unspoilt) counties left in England.  Which is very true, very rural and very beautiful! 

Gone are the days when younger people were able to buy a house, even if they couldn’t afford it. Perhaps I should say gone are the days when those same people (many of my friends) were given mortgages for homes with zero down payment.  Homes which they really couldn’t afford, yet qualified some how.  Once they lost their jobs, gone were the days then could afford their payments!  The credit crunch (recession), combined with the inability to purchase a home due to needing such a high down payment (and history), has forced many to have to rent, hence the low inventory.  We have friends here who had his parent’s carry their mortgage, as they were not able to get a mortgage.

We’re finally starting to see some rental homes come up on the market.  There are a few we are going to see.   There are quite a few which came up and off in the matter of days.  These are the ones which are in the £500-£700 ($800-$1,000) monthly range.  They tend to be small semi-attached homes which Nils calls “typical Dutch homes in Lelystad, Holland”.  I think the equivalent to old projects, council housing or assisted income homes, where you can drive right past yours as they all look alike.  Plus, with Nils being 6’8″ tall our choices are cut in half right away!  I personally might have had a look inside a few, as I am pretty easy going with housing, especially ones which advertise being updated.

Cromer House – rented in a few days.

Lelystad home for sale.
Home in Kelling, just outside of Holt.  This was on and off the market in two days.

Or there are some really nice ones.  They are ones that are £1500+.  They are normally really beautiful, loads of privacy, amazing character inside & out and often have super kitchens with great traditional AGA cookers.   Even some of the beautiful large have low ceilings and/or low beams due to age, so are not always feasible for Nils.  But these are the ones I call “maybe some day” homes.  But for now they’ll remain beautiful but un-affordable”!

Here is a great one in Letheringsett, just outside of Holt.  It is going for £1750 ($2,700) monthly.

Lovely kitchen with an AGA
Nice soaking tub!

Or this unique property in Hunworth, also not far from Holt.  It is listed for £1500 ($2,375) monthly.

Hunworth property
Here you’ll see all the amazing character, but look at the low ceiling & beam.  
Works great for me and the kids, but not so much for Nils.
Another AGA

Here is a very popular style home in the area – a converted barn.  This one is in Rougton, so closer to Soren’s school but very rural location and not where I really want to be.  But it is beautiful!! It is listed for £1,350 ($2,125) monthly. (How cool would it be to live in a converted barn?)

Though I don’t like the furniture, I like the details. 

And then there are the homes which we will look at.  They are the middle of the road homes… homes which are priced between £800-£1,200.  ($1,200-1,900).  These ones are few & far between.  They are not cheap, but they are decent, family homes which provide the size and location which we need and want.

There is this really nice one located in Bale.  It’s £1,200 and is great because it has an annex so visitors could stay with us and have their own space.  But it really doesn’t make sense as our main goal is to get into a community very close to Soren’s school.  Bale is a tiny town, so tiny I’m not even sure how many people they have – not much.  Nils just told me, he read on Wiki that it’s a village that is part of the civil parish of Gunthorpe and it’s claim to fame was a big oak tree, which as been removed.  In addition, a guy born in Bale died on the Titanic. It is located just on the other side of the BP Station off A48 (Holt Road) from Gunthorpe.  So it would be no closer to his school than where we are currently staying.

Bale house – we have not seen inside, but judging from the outside,  I think it would be great. 

I really really want to live in the town of Sheringham. But it’s a highly desirable area and homes do not come on the rental market that often, as I pointed out in the beginning.  (80 for sale, 4 for rent!)  We’re very hopeful that come the Spring, we’ll see some stuff come up.  The homes in this town vary.  In the immediate center of town on the shopping streets, you tend to find maisonettes (above shops) or terraced houses and cottages.  Many are small with low ceilings.  But what is unique about this town is a few of the streets, just a couple blocks from the main shopping street, offer larger, Victorian-style terraced houses.  The streets between the Sheringham Golf Course and the town.  St. Nicolas Place, The Boulevard, Augusta Street and Holway Road for example.   To the right of the shopping street, you get more larger homes mixed in with the cottages on places like Nelson Road, Beeston Road, Cliff Road, Priory Road and The Avenue going towards Beeston Regis area.  The key is that you must have a parking spot in a driveway.  It is a very, very touristy destination in the summer, and they already have a low amount of council owned spots in the town lots.

We are going to look at the two properties in the Sheringham area and one outside, not too far from Soren’s school.  The first is a recently complete barn conversion in Upper Sheringham listed at £1,200.  It’s a street away from the lovely community of Upper Sheringham.  I think it’s part of a lot of I think five barns, so  I don’t think it’s really private. A down side is there is nothing there.  Not a pub, not a store, not a post office – nothing – only 200 people, homes, a church and a town hall.  There is a community social group, but from a walking factor is is a F.  Sure it’s steeped with history, but really that is not a factor for us.

The other is this single family home on Beeston Road for £950.  It is a cute, four bedroom home with a nice kitchen, back yard with a studio/office.  NO parking is the biggest draw back.  You’d have to park on The Avenue.  Not sure how I feel about that.. I’m leaning no.  But the funny part of the home is that I was just told by a friend, who lives on Priory Road, that a home was for rent and it is owned by a guy I met at the local Yesu center.  He brings his son who is close to Maebh’s age and runs the local Karate program in the area.

We’re going to see this other property, located in North Bannington (civil parish of Gresham) which recently came up on the rental market for £1000 and INCLUDES ALL utilities and council taxes.  The name is terrible – HELL HOLE BARNS and a little off-putting to be (but Nils thinks it’s cool) but I think it might be a good option for us.  Originally, it was a holiday place used for weekly rentals but for some reason the owner wants to rent it furnished.  The listed Realtor thinks that is bad, but for us, it would be great, as we do not have any furniture or household items except a dryer from the Fairstead Cottage.   As you’ll see, it’s a converted barn in a VERY rural location.  There are no stores to drive to, but you could possibly walk to a pub, The Wheatsheaf in West Becket, but that is it and I think that is a long-shot.  Perhaps on a nice warm day, but I don’t see me doing that walk – lol. The best part of this property apart from it being furnished is that it’s in the catchment area of Soren’s school, so I don’t have to drive 30 minutes each directly several times a day.  The amount of gas we use just on the school run is unreal!  So next year Soren can take the school bus home some days.  Maebh will be in school too, 5 days a week from 9-12.  Some days it will be really helpful  not to have to go to the school three times.  First drop both kids off at 9.  Go back and get Maebh at noon and then go back and get Soren at 3:10 pm.  I understand that is part of having kids and doing the school run, but still if we can do something about it, why not!

There is something about this place which reminds me of Winthrop.  The seaside interior, the long narrow part, not sure what.

And I NEVER thought I’d stay this, but in a house like this, I’d probably want to get a DOG.  A Border Collie, A Spaniel or a Labrador or a GUN! Yes I said it!!!  BUT the minute it growls at me, it goes outside until Nils returns home.

Oh and if we lived here, I’d certainly be able to have some backyard chickens and a small garden, which I will no doubt ruin.

Nice windows, fridge, freezer and really nice stove.  
The shaker style kitchen is fine – I’d like a larger island. 
Table & chairs not my style, but they could be worse. 
If we are really bored, we can hang a swing from the beam and push Maebh.
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I could live with this.  The end & coffee tables are NOT me, but the couches are fine. 
Master bedroom
This would be Maebh’s room.

UPDATE: January 25, 2013

We were able to view another house located in West Becket.  This home is only 4 minutes from Soren’s school.  It’s unfurnished and listed for £1,150.  I was actually told about it about a month and half ago, when a friend told me it was coming on the market, as the current occupants were going through a divorce.  At the time, I was a bit put off by it as its uses heat in addition to the cost of the house. It is also unfurnished so all these put me off…

But Nils requested to see it anyway, so we did today.  We made the appointment for 9:10 am, which unfortunately coincided with the school’s Friday Assembly.  I’m so bummed as I didn’t realize that this was when they were doing it as I’d never elect to miss it.  Soren was one of the children who were going to be given a cupcake, candle and sung to at the front of the room.

When we arrived, we were really shocked by the house itself.  It’s 4 minutes from the school, next door to a girl in his class and was really spacious!  It has two car garage, large garden and deck area (covered).   Sure the kitchen and the master bathroom was a little dated (early 90’s I’d say), but all in all it was clean, open and was very sunny.  It was a sunny day today and you could see how the house was basking in the sun and south facing helped too so you get sun all day.   From outside, it is simply a brick house and you’d never give it a second glace.  Inside you have a pretty large kitchen (with only a stove – you have to supply fridge), utility room, huge living room with fireplace, playroom right off the kitchen, conservatory, office, then upstairs you have a huge master bedroom, two bathrooms then 3 additional smaller bedrooms.  Again, it is unfurnished so that is a challenge as we’d have to start over from scratch which is very pricey to start.  All in all, the house was surprising great.  If we were to move forward with this house, I’d really get the feeling that we were settling in roots in North Norfolk.    We are seeing a few more homes, so we’ll give this one some consideration.

Here are the photos listed on the internet – again they don’t do justice!!  But you’ll see gold fixtures, teal rugs and pink backslash in the bathroom so you’ll see the dated features, but again, all in all it’s a great house that would work well for us.

View of the house from the yard. 
Driveway up to house.
Large kitchen
Extra large family room.
Dining room leading out to conservatory.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013\

We are going to look at a four bedroom, three bathroom unfurnished property in Hindringham listed at £1,200 and hopefully one just outside it in Thursford, home of Thursford Collection, listed at £795.  Both of these homes are in the catchment area of Hindringham Primary School, a Church of England Schoool.  It’s a good school with outstanding features like Gresham Village.  The only school in the area which is Outstanding on nearly every single category is Langham Village School, but we have yet to see a home in that area come up for rent in the past 6 months.  Probably as people get in and don’t leave due to the exceptional school.
The first house is really big, and I think pretty nice. While you are in the middle of nowhere, you have neighbors and can walk to the primary school.  The local community came together and established a local pub, but that it is – not a store, not a post office – nothing!
Here are the photos we found on the internet – looks nice, but we’ll see it in person today as I know photos on the web are not necessarily what you’ll see in person as we saw with Beeston Road.

As we agreed, we’d see a lot of homes to give us a good idea of what is available, I suggested we view an apartment rental, so we’re waiting to hear from the realtor. It is right downtown Sheringham, (again the town in which, I would like to live) and appears rather large and clean.  It will keep Soren at his current school and put us in the town center.  It has only one bathroom, kitchen, living area but has four bedrooms.  It’s above a grocery shop so you have no outside space, but the beach is 100 meters to the left, where we’ll be a lot.  Plus four out of five days, Maebh and I do “Mommy & Me” playgroup things in this town so we’d be rather at home  You also do not have a parking spot, but you could get a permit for the North Council parking lots (but they do fill up quickly in the summer).   Here are some photos of it.  Oh and it’s very inexpensive at only £600 monthly.

I think it if had a small garden, another level with an additional bathroom and a parking spot, it would be a terraced house and be more idea.  We’ll see if we can view it and see. Probably not for us, but I’d like to see it, as it is listed as 1200 sq feet – pretty large for an apartment.

We are NOT seeing this house!  It’s too small for Nils and well, why bother viewing it if I know he’d never go for it!

Author: Stars Stripes and Mayonnaise

I am an American currently living in the Netherlands. I enjoy snapping photos and blogging along the way about our family’s journey as we moved from USA to the UK for a couple years then onto Ireland for three & half years and now in our next adventure in the Netherlands where the kids and are are learning Dutch. As you can probably tell by the name of the blog “Stars, Stripes & Mayonnaise” our family is half American & half Dutch and if you know one thing about the Dutch is that they LOVE their mayonnaise! I seen ’em do it man, they fuckin‘ drown ’em in it. When I started this blog way when it was to capturing memories of our family – essentially a journal of our family adventures, their love of mayonnaise, my love of photography, D.I.Y., crafting, sea glass hunting and exploring with our two amazing kids.

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