What Does the Dream Home Look Like in Britain?

by | Mar 30, 2024 | Home | 0 comments

The size and shape of a British “dream home” aren’t easy things to pin down. After all, the perfect property means wildly different things to different people. What’s sought after in the Cotswolds isn’t necessarily going to be what people yearn for in London. And what someone wants at 35 might not be what they want when they reach 70. Nevertheless, there have been attempts through surveys to discover what the British dream home looks like. And by exploring some of these, we can begin to see a picture emerging, giving us at least some idea of what an ideal home looks like in different settings.

Contents

  1. What Does a Typical British Home Look Like?
  2. What is the Dream Home in the Countryside?
  3. What is the Dream Home for City Dwellers?
  4. What is the Dream Home in Suburbia?
  5. Overall Dream Home Observations

What Does a Typical British Home Look Like?

Before addressing what the dream home might look like, let’s look at British houses as they actually are. Of course, this is something of a fool’s errand because the country’s architecture varies so greatly. Still, there are some housing types which are more plentiful than others and top of the list is the terraced house, most usually found in city settings. These are attached houses that share walls with both of their neighbours and occupy two to three floors, sometimes coming with small front gardens and slightly larger back ones. There may also be shared alleyways that lead to the gardens. Semi-detached houses, on the other hand, are attached to another property on one side while being detached on the other. These will also often have front and back gardens. The more you go into suburbia and countryside, the likelier you are to come across fully detached properties. Of course, these three categories don’t take into account the wide range of architectural styles found in Britain, including Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Gothic, Art Deco, Modern and so on. And this is before we consider the sheer variety of flats and apartments, from conversions to purpose-built blocks.

What is The Dream Home in the Countryside?

Among the more recent findings comes from a 2023 survey by The Lease Extension Company, which revealed that the dream home was to be found in a rural setting and took the shape of a detached house with a home office, large kitchen and rambling garden, while also coming with the benefits of friendly neighbours. The survey went on to indicate that the luxury extra of a swimming pool was not a dream requirement, perhaps as a consequence of the British climate. Other longed-for features making up the dream home included a walk-in wardrobe and utility room. And while a large garden was very much part of the dream, optional decorations such as summer houses were not particularly desired, with respondents favouring sporting facilities like tennis courts. In the same survey, 70 per cent of respondents dreamt of a detached house while 20 per cent desired an idyllic country cottage. The saddest finding was that 71 per cent aren’t able to afford their ideal home and 72 per cent are certain that they never will be able to.

Of course, while dreams are never static, a survey by Rightmove from two years earlier came to very similar findings, describing the dream home as a detached, four-bedroom house. But it’s possible that our dreams had yet to be eroded by the cost-of-living crisis at this point in time, because in this survey the home was even more lavish, with two sitting rooms, a coastal village setting, two bathrooms, a utility room, garage and home office.

What is the Dream Home for City Dwellers?

It’s worth noting that in both recent surveys, the ultimate dream home was the one described above: detached and in the countryside. In other words, this is what most people dream of, regardless of where they currently reside. It’s possible that this rustic idyll has become ever more popular since the lockdown/covid era, especially given the increasing numbers of workers-from-home. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t still people for whom the dream is to be found in cities. After all, another recent survey, this time by Goodmove, found that 44 per cent of people want to live in the countryside, which leaves a healthy 66 per cent looking elsewhere. So what is the ideal home for urbanites? Another Rightmove poll, from 2021, came to the conclusion that a Londoner’s dream home is a four-bedroomed detached house in a village on the coast. In other words, even Londoners dream of escaping, though they prefer the bustle of a seaside village rather than open countryside. Coming second place in the survey was a typical “cosy cottage”. The findings also revealed a generational shift, with 18-to-24-year-olds preferring an inland village or even a town.

What is the Dream Home in Surburbia?

Getting to the heart of what those in the suburbs want isn’t so easy. It’s a while since any credible studies have attempted to find out. 20 years ago, some research by Legal & General did, however, discover that 21 per cent of the population yearned for a detached house plus large garden in the suburbs. By 2009, according to another L&G survey, suburbia really was the sweet spot, the perfect compromise between city and countryside living. An impressive 34 per cent of suburb residents said that they were already living in their dream home (as compared to a figure of just 15 per cent of overall respondents to the survey). But what might those homes look like? Looking at a 2024 survey by Swift Direct Blinds, we are happier with a bungalow (21 per cent) than with a more elaborate or luxurious mansion (14 per cent). And tastes lean even more towards bungalows in the over-65s. A 2019 GoCompare study  found that, for interiors, ‘Country house’ style comes top, closely followed by ‘Traditional’ and ‘Minimalist’. Lowest down the list are ‘Art deco’ and ‘retro’.

Overall Dream Home Observations

The “covid exodus” seems still to be influencing the way the population sees its dream home, given how almost all recent surveys prize countryside over city centre or suburb. But the idea that people dream of ostentation and luxury can be put to bed, since most recent studies have found that tricked-out, maximalist styles only find favour with about five per cent of the population. Modest detached properties (ie cottages rather than mansions or manses) are the ultimate dream homes, closely followed by villas and bungalows. At the bottom of the scale, according to the 2024 Swift Direct Blinds study, are those mainstays of London living, flats and penthouses. Indeed, the idea of a city dream home is almost dead, except among a vanishingly small proportion of the population.