What does your Rightmove fantasy say about you?
What does your Rightmove fantasy say about you? Property blogger SOPHIE HEAWOOD runs through the top five property obsessions
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I used to think it was just me, scrolling on my phone under the covers at night, hoping nobody would catch me at it.
Until I found out that half the people I know are in the same guilt-ridden relationship with Rightmove, Zoopla or Prime Location; ogling the houses on these property portals and dreaming of a new life.
This is why I started writing The Rightmove Roundup, a regular online mailout in which I pore over my latest property-porn finds (and some overpriced horrors as well).
And I’ve noticed that these fantasises tend to fall into one of five patterns…
The cheapest property in the priciest city
SEDGWICK PARK, IN WEST SUSSEX, IS EXPECTED TO FETCH AT LEAST £3.9 MILLION ON RIGHTMOVE
This is the fantasy where you convince yourself how humble you are because you only want a little mews house round the back of Harrods in Knightsbridge… Oh, you know, the tiniest flat in the Royal Crescent in Bath… Really, this place in Soho is more of a crash pad, a mere pied-à-terre!
Then you start estimating the value of your suburban semi and realise that you could actually swap it for a property in central London – if you were prepared to downsize from 1,500 to 300 square feet and lose all your bedrooms in return for a ‘studio room’ that also has the kitchen in it (three shelves and two gas rings on what appears to be a camping stove left over from the war).
But heck, who needs a garden now that you’ll be within spitting distance of Hyde Park? Just as soon as you’ve got down the four flights of stairs (no lift) and through the communal door that backs on to the car park of a French patisserie that charges more for an espresso than you used to spend on a weekly shop.
Oh, and as long as the rest of your family have rapidly embraced minimalism, or simply moved out.
The pain of divorce versus a bijou view of leafy London? Darling, it’s a tough call, but this is what Rightmove fantasies are made of.
The small retreat beside the seaside
It could be Southwold or Whitstable, St Ives or Portobello Beach where you will quit your job to become an antiquarian bookseller or a potter, or to write novels about love and loss.
Every day will start with a brisk morning swim, even though none has in all the years you have lived next door to the leisure centre but, you know, the coast will be different. The coast will reinvent you.
TORSA ISLAND, OBAN, ARGYLL, ON SALE FOR £1.5 MILLION AT RIGHTMOVE
You will be that character in a romcom starring Kate Winslet that involves an unfeasibly attractive member of the opposite sex recovering from his divorce, and takes place in a ramshackle yet artistic abode.
An Aga and a freestanding bath will feature heavily, as well as linen bistro curtains.
The heroine (you) will put up every barrier from her big city life until the electricity fails, the night is dark and, with only starlight to guide her, she’ll fall into her new lover’s arms – even though, in reality, you’d have the sweet sound of the DFLs (down from London) next door, building a massive extension, local boy racers on motorbikes and a sea full of sewage.
The Scandi modernist dreamhouse
This search often takes place on The Modern House website, where you will scroll through birch kitchens and houses entirely empty of clutter, filled only with art and light, and vow your life will similarly cease to contain anything that is not useful or beautiful, if you could only afford to live in one of them. To be rich enough to have so little!
In this fantasy, even your kettle will suddenly look like something from a Scandinavian design museum, and you will pour from it only by bending your body in a half-moon pose, like a true yogi.
Actually, you won’t even need a kettle – you’ll have a boiling water tap in powder-coated yellow, designed by someone who’s had their own retrospective at Tate Modern.
The staircase of your abode will be tilted at a non-traditional angle. The books on the bookshelf will all be facing the wrong way so nothing as distracting as words are on display, only the whiteness of the pages.
The space beside the log-burning stove will contain exactly ten logs. Nobody is to touch these, let alone burn them. One day someone will come round and casually open one of your handle-free, floor-to-ceiling plywood cupboards, only for the entire life’s worth of possessions you have stuffed in there to come tumbling out.
Sophie Heawood started writing The Rightmove Roundup, a regular online mailout. Stock image used
The Hippie hobbit hole
This is the one where you feel you should live more in tune with Mother Earth, and so search for a natural lifestyle down a deep country lane somewhere near Totnes,
Frome, Hebden Bridge or Forest Row… Somewhere you can ditch high heels and make-up in favour of smocks and tie-dye, and embrace wild swimming as an alternative to washing.
The house you find on your property search will inevitably resemble a Hobbit hole from the outside, with a cosy red kitchen inside that feels a bit like a womb. Three bedrooms will lack right angles entirely and be painted in differing shades of violet, mustard and puce.
There will be various objects dangling from ceilings – crystals, dreamcatchers, bailiffs’ letters, etc.
A garden room will double as a yoga studio and, even in the photos, will somehow manage to smell faintly of marijuana and patchouli. To fit in with the neighbours, you’ll have to eschew all forms of plastic, apart from a massive polytunnel in the garden to grow your own organic vegetables in.
You’ll learn to go along with their awfully nice, cheery conspiracy theories, as they tap their noses and say, ‘That’s what the mainstream media want you to believe,’ when you mention that it’s a bit chilly out today or that you’ve just spotted a traffic jam on the A385.
An entire Scottish island
This will come complete with a mansion house, three derelict crofters’ cottages and a neglected trout fishery. These you will revitalise stunningly because you are, by nature, exactly the sort of person who could breathe new life into a trout-fishing business.
This is despite your whole working life having been spent in office administration in Nuneaton and your main decisions regarding the fish industry being whether you fancy cod or haddock from the chippy.
The mansion looks like someone died there in 1892 and the undertakers have yet to arrive. And while this may be the case, you are willing to overlook it.
All because you’ve watched enough home renovation reels to know you can totally transform the place in six months. (Well, you can if you’ve got a B&Q sponsorship deal, a husband who’s a builder and a forgot-to-mention-it trust fund.) And then you’ll have a beautiful house from which to gaze at the cruel sea, trying to recall what it was like to have friends.
Ah, but there’s always the simple, poignant beauty of the crofters’ cottages. Until, that is, you look up the word ‘crofting’, lose interest somewhere around ‘agricultural land-holding tenancy’ and decide to turn them into Airbnb rentals instead.
There is no regular public transport to this tiny island, so how you’ll even bring over the building materials is uncertain – but you will surely be able to charter a seaplane. Or a ferry. Or a passing whale.
Read more from Sophie at heawood.substack.com/s/rightmove-roundup
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