Waterside Living: Is it all plain sailing?

Waterside properties have always been high up on the property wish list. With picturesque views and a calming environment, there is a vast array of homes available – from traditional canal side cottages to contemporary townhouses and modern flats overlooking Milton Keynes lakes, rivers and canals.

Milton Keynes is famed for its man-made balancing lakes that are designed to provide open spaces for the town’s residents to enjoy in their free time and are cleverly engineered to prevent flooding. Lakes such as Furzton, Caldecotte and Willen provide beautiful waterfront homes for those longing for a stunning all-year-round view that brings an ever-evolving scene, with migratory wildlife and the changing of the seasons.

But what is the price you have to pay to enjoy this water life? Buyers and tenants are willing to pay a premium for a waterside property and prices can be between 20-50% more than countryside properties. They attract city-dwellers who need an escape from the hustle and bustle of a hectic, fast-paced working life. Milton Keynes creates the perfect balance of both urban and waterside living. You’re never too far away from civilisation and you can still enjoy those gorgeous sunrises over the water.

Let’s dive into the bonuses of waterside living a little deeper…

Boost your health

Living near water has added physical and mental health benefits, allowing for walking, cycling and relaxing with activities such as fishing and boating. Milton Keynes has various cycling and walking routes along its waterways such as the River Ouzel and the Grand Union Canal. Aside from building stamina and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercising, you also reduce the risk of developing various illnesses and help to improve your mental health with the release of endorphins.

Lower pollution

If you’re concerned about pollution levels and their impact on your health, these tend to be lower by lakes and rivers as these areas are generally free from heavy traffic found in the more densely populated areas of town. By having a less polluted environment to live in, your general health can benefit from clearer airways, lower blood pressure and improved digestion.

Stimulate your mind

Do you work from home or work in a creative industry? If so, a waterfront property could be the ideal home to relocate to. Imagine having all that creative inspiration on your doorstep – just step outside into a watery scene and feel re-energised by your surroundings. A clear clean environment also helps for a clear mind, which benefits productivity.

Future investments

In terms of investment and value for money, waterside homes are in short supply meaning it is highly likely that your property will always be in demand, making them a sound investment for the future. If you’re considering purchasing a second home in a desirable waterfront location, your property could also provide the opportunity for a holiday let investment.

What are the drawbacks to living in waterside homes?

Home insurance premiums

With all the benefits of owning a beautiful home by the water, there may be an increased risk of flooding. Elevated homes and gardens provide some protection against this, but it can have an impact on insurance premiums if the location is known to flood. Always read the fine print and check you have flood insurance, this is something you can find out more about here. You can also check the risk of flooding with the Environment Agency.

Safety first

If you live in a waterside property with young children, it is advisable to invest in extra child-safety precautions such as securing the boundary of your property with sturdy fencing or gating. It is not only important for children to remain safe around water, but also for pets too. Any boundary fencing/gating will also help to keep pets safe within your property.

A price to pay

Despite the longer-term benefits on investing in these properties, it is inevitably more expensive to buy and rent these desirable properties. With high demand and short supply on the market, they can be difficult to get your hands on. Remember it’s all about location, location, location!

There are many benefits of living in waterfront homes, including personal benefits for your mind and soul. However, factors such as price, availability, safety and insurance should all be considered when deciding whether to invest in these properties.

 

 

 

 

 

Trendy kitchens and bathrooms – What can they do for you?

The quality of a bathroom/kitchen can increase or decrease the value of a property so it’s essential to keep them up-to-date. They should be a space for relaxation and, for many, unwind after a long day. A potential buyer could easily be put off by a dated bathroom or kitchen as they may see this as an area where they would need to invest extra money in when purchasing a property.

Installing a new bathroom or kitchen is a big commitment. Any design choices will need to be lived with for several years, so it’s important not to be too easily influenced by current trends that can come and go (i.e. 1970s style avocado green bathroom suite). This month’s blog post covers our top tips on how you can improve kitchens and bathrooms with simple, cost-effective changes.

Let’s begin with kitchens…

A pop of colour

Adding a statement pop of colour to your kitchen can help modernise tired paintwork. This adds a sense of personality and character to your kitchen and reflects who you are within your home. Adding a fresh coat of paint to walls is a relatively inexpensive way to transform your kitchen. If you enjoy more intense colours, focus on painting one statement wall and keep the rest of the walls neutral so that the colour does not overpower the room.

Matte black appliances

No matter what colour your kitchen, matte black is a perfect contrast colour for your appliances –  including ovens, kettles, dishwashers and fridges. This helps to add a technological and futuristic feeling for your kitchen and can blend in with most interior design schemes.

Headless ventilation

Headless ventilation is something that many kitchen designers are now implementing into modern homes. It saves drawing unnecessary attention to less attractive features, such as your cooker hoods. It also means you have a much airier and open spaced kitchen.

Clutter-free surfaces

This idea of minimalism is huge in all areas of the house and there is no exception for the kitchen! Take a leaf out of famous tidier, Marie Kondo, who preaches about storage and keeping only what you need. If you have an excessive amount of tabletop appliances then narrow it down – if things such as electrical appliances are old and not working as well as they used to, get rid of them too.

Tons of texture

This is a simple yet highly effective way to keep your kitchen visually pleasing. Having a variety of textures works to add dimension to the room and can include wooden counters, glass splash backs and tile flooring. 

Open-plan living

If you are someone who has watched the show ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Homes’, many modern homes have open-plan kitchens combined with living rooms so that families can enjoy spending more time together in one space. ‘Broken-plan’ layouts are becoming increasingly popular – by adding bookcases, screens or half-walls creates distinct areas within a kitchen for eating/socialising.

Darker floors

Adding darker floor tiles or wooden flooring can create a sleeker and chicer kitchen. Having chestnut or ebony wood floors, or grey/black tiles is the way forward. Marble flooring can add make an impactful statement, however, if marble tiles are out of budget, why not take a look at marble- effect tiles?

 

Next up is bathrooms…

Don’t be tempted to buy a coloured bathroom suite!

Bold coloured bathroom suites might be making a comeback but white bathrooms are truly timeless. If you want to add colour to white bathrooms, they are easily accessorised with towels and blinds that can provide a funky accent colour or can be complimented with patterned tiles and flooring. In contrast to kitchens, choose more angular styled white suites to add a contemporary twist.

Make a big statement in a small space

Bathrooms are often the smallest rooms in a house but that doesn’t mean you can’t be adventurous in your design choices. Using large print wallpaper can create a vibrant wall or utilising a statement mirror can be both practical and add some drama to the space.

 

Go natural

Cold, stone textures and materials have been popular in bathrooms for quite some time but now wood is on its way in. Darker-stained, rustic timber can be used to add a warmer touch to often cold, clinical bathroom designs. There are even wood effect tiles on the market to add a more natural feel without compromising on functionality.

A metallic touch

Forget shiny chrome – think industrial copper or glamorous gold. You may not want to commit to changing your taps to these bold new metallic trends, but you can accessorise your bathroom with gold or copper accents by installing an on-trend light fitting with coordinating metallic framed mirror or shelving unit.

Wet rooms

If you’re planning a complete bathroom renovation, a wet room may be a great option. They are becoming increasingly popular as they offer an easy to maintain bathroom and are a practical alternative to a walk-in shower, offering greater accessibility.

Industrial chic

Industrial chic is an emerging trend. With a more masculine feel, the industrial look consists of bold, straight lines, exposed pipework and black, chunky fixtures and fittings. Simplicity is key with this design and larger, more stylised shower screens hint at influences from Japanese minimalism.

Space saving bathrooms – always on trend

If your bathroom is particularly tiny, there are lots of space saving options available from vanity units with built in storage to slim basins, compact WCs and even tapered bathtubs, perfect for awkward spaces. The use of mirrored tiles can make a small space feel bigger, as can lighter colour palettes and choosing bright lighting. Neutral tiles, around 30-60cm, are ideal for bijou bathrooms, smaller tiles can make a small room look too busy.

 

 

 

 

 

What is a catchment area and why should you consider yours when buying a property?

Relocating to a new town is a big decision, and there are a few factors that you should consider before moving. One of these factors is the school catchment area, especially if you have children or are thinking about having children in the future.

A catchment area can be defined as the geographical area served by a school and it is important to do your research into the schools in the area that you are looking to move to. Both primary and secondary schools should be able to provide information on where their catchment areas are, so you can find out if you’re close enough to be considered for a place.

Milton Keynes is fortunately packed with Infant, Primary, Secondary and Independent schools, meaning that when you are looking for an area to move to, you will probably have a choice of schools to send your child/ren to. In Milton Keynes, we are also very lucky in that we have a various Special Education schools for children with complex needs along with SEN provisions in place at all Primary and Secondary schools.

In light of this, one area within Milton Keynes that is worth mentioning is Bletchley, as it has a large amount of schools within its borders, including Lord Grey Academy, Abbey’s Primary School, Barleyhurst Park Primary School, Romans Field School, MK Prep School, Chestnuts Primary School, St Thomas Aquinas School, Newton Leyes Primary School and Sir Herbert Leon School. Average housing prices in Bletchley are £265,483, which is below the average of £313,587 for a house in Milton Keynes as a whole.

You should also take into consideration a schools Ofsted rating, especially if you would be looking to sell you home later down the line. According to Net House Prices, the average price of a house with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted school in its catchment area is £331,605. That’s 13.2% higher than the cost of a home near a school with an Ofsted grade of ‘good’. The figures show the average house price increases by a whopping £96,363 if you want to live in an area with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating compared to one with an Ofsted ‘inadequate.’

As well as considering catchment areas, it is important to consider when in the academic year that you are moving to a new area, most schools will need you to be living at your new address before you apply for your child to attend the school, and although it is possible for your child to move schools midterm, it is recommended that this happens in a half term or, even better, over the summer holidays.

If you are considering relocating to Milton Keynes, click here for more information

The benefits of living in Milton Keynes – why people love MK and what attracts people to move to the area

On average, 13 people move to Milton Keynes every day, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. We have all heard the negative stories about too many roundabouts and a lack of identity, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. To help you get to know more about the real Milton Keynes, we have rounded up a top ten list of the benefits of living in MK and why there is more than meets the eye beneath the grid system.

1. It is great for getting around

Due to its geographical location within the UK, the transport links within Milton Keynes make it a commuter haven. Whether you are looking for a city with good links to London or Birmingham, Milton Keynes offers fast train services so that you can be in either city in less than 45 minutes. With good road links and proximity to the M1, it also offers easy reach to Bedford, Luton, Northampton and Cambridge.  On top of this, there are five international airports within 90 minutes’ drive meaning you are never too far away to escape to a sunny destination abroad.

2. Two-fifths of Milton Keynes is glorious, green open space

Whilst there may be over 130 roundabouts and an infamous American grid system, Milton Keynes surprisingly offers residents a lot of green space in the form of beautiful parks. There are over 200 parks in Milton Keynes including Willen Lake South Park where you can tackle a high rope adventure or splash about in the outdoor water park, Campbell Park where you can admire the sculptures and catch a game of local cricket or Linford Lakes Nature Reserve where you can spot herons, otters, owls or deer in their natural habitats. This also provides plenty of opportunities to go for leisurely strolls or bike rides at the weekend.

3. It is a good place to find work and purchase a property

Statistics within the last three years show that there are 67.7 start-up businesses per 10,000 people in Milton Keynes, second only to the capital. It is home to many businesses such as Mercedes-Benz, BP, Dominoes, Red Bull Racing and Argos providing plenty of career opportunities within the area, so it is no surprise that it is also an affordable place to get on the property ladder. Property prices also provide an attraction to those looking for a new base outside of London. According to latest valuation figures, the average property price is £305,271 in Milton Keynes, which is less than half the price of living within the capital, where the average property price is £636,363 in London.

4. The city is host to surprising tech innovation and testing

Forget Silicon Valley – Milton Keynes is the new home to unique technology trials. If you happen to order a takeaway, don’t be surprised if you encounter a little white robot greeting you at your door with your margarita pizza. Starship Technologies have deployed these robots which features sensors for detecting obstacles, nine cameras and GPS technology to help them navigate their way along the grid system. Milton Keynes is also trialling Aurrigo self-driving pods within the city centre that can travel up to 15 miles per hour and last up to one hour off a single charge for members of the public to utilise as a new mode of transport.

5. You are never too far away from water

At face value, Milton Keynes couldn’t be further from the sea, yet the city is home to 15 beautiful lakes and 11 miles of canals. You can take a leisurely boat ride down the Grand Union Canal and visit the country’s smallest canal lock at Fenny Stratford or have a picnic by the windmill at Caldecotte Lake.

6. For a new town, MK boasts a lot of history

Even though Milton Keynes was elected as a new town on 23 January 1967, it is steeped in history. Bletchley Park was vital to winning World War II where 10,000 citizens from all walks of life helped to crack enemy codes and communication in secret. Bradwell Priory was founded in 1154 by Benedictine Monks and is listed as a nationally important scheduled monument. For car (and James Bond) lovers, Newport Pagnell is the birthplace of Aston Martin. Stadium MK (the polarising home of MK Dons) hosted record amounts of visitors during the 2015 Rugby World Cup to watch international matches of France v Canada, Fiji v Uruguay and Samoa v Japan. And finally, Milton Keynes has shaped the UK in winning several Gold medals at the Olympic Games including Torvill and Dean (who practiced their Olympic-winning ‘Bolero’ routine at Planet Ice) and Greg Rutherford (who won Gold at the 2012 London Olympics for Long Jump). The ‘Leaping Man’ statue and two gold postboxes in Lloyds Court are a long-standing tribute to Greg’s achievement.

7. MK has plenty of arts and culture (not just animal statues)

Aside from the infamous ‘Concrete Cows’ installation by Canadian artist Liz Leigh, the city provides a thriving hub for art, theatre and music. Milton Keynes Theatre is reported to be one of the UK’s busiest theatre districts outside of London’s West End with regular shows such as RSC productions, the English National Ballet and musicals such as Matilda, Jersey Boys and Legally Blonde. With over 200 public art installations in the area, there is also a major refurbishment of MK Gallery due to open in 2019 offering a new home for contemporary art, live performances and film showings. For gigs and live music, check out The Stables where you can see the likes of Newton Faulkner, Northern Soul and Joan Armatrading perform. Let’s not forget The Bowl where icons such as Take That, Linkin Park, Bon Jovi, Oasis, Guns and Roses and Eminem have performed.

8. The local schools and colleges have strong education ratings and rankings

For parents with children, there are a high proportion of schools and colleges within the Milton Keynes area which have achieved respectable inspection ratings. To date, there are 30 schools and colleges in MK which have been rated ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED and 66 schools and colleges which have been rated ‘Good’. There are also a number of good independent schools within Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire to choose from.

9. New adventures are just around the corner

You don’t have to travel far to experience thrill sports. The Xscape in Milton Keynes offers the SnoZone where you can ski or snowboard to your heart’s content all-year-round and has taught over 2 million guests since its opening in 2000. To satisfy your inner Peter Pan, you can also learn to fly through a unique indoor sky-diving experience iFLY which allows people of all ages to soar through a 12 ft wind tunnel. On warmer days, you can sail, paddleboard or powerboat your way across Willen Lake.

10. The shopping centres attract over 27 million visitors each year

If you are looking for retail therapy, Milton Keynes offers an impressive shopping centre made up of two adjacent shopping areas, Intu Milton Keynes and thecentre:MK which offers 120,773m2 of high street and designer retailers and is ranked in the top 15 largest shopping centres in the UK (even featuring in the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records for the longest shopping mall in the world). MK shopping is only due to get bigger over the next 10 years as Intu Milton Keynes has been granted expansion plans to add 9,300m² of space to the centre, including a new food hall over two levels and a five-screen boutique cinema.

If you want to find your dream home in Milton Keynes, contact the Limestone team on 01908 234 111 or email us at info@limestonemk.co.uk