Flat hunting-early days.

January 07 2016 – Broadstairs, Margate and Deal.

Happy New Year !

If you have been following my blog over the last few months you will have noticed that I am looking to find myself a flat somewhere outside of London. I am looking for somewhere I can set up with my things and it can be a bolt hole for both El and myself. I want to be on the coast so I can smell, hear and see the sea. Last year I looked at a couple of towns with properties that I could afford to rent and then decided that renting was a waste of money. I have some funds in New Zealand from when I sold my house four years ago. There is not a huge amount left, but I have decided to transfer it here to the UK when the term deposit matures in February, and it will make an OK deposit on a cheap flat. It was time to change my search parameters from ‘rent’ to ‘buy’. It is all a bit scary!

To make life easier, and ultimately cheaper I made the decision to restrict my searching to the Kent coast, from Folkestone, up and around Margate and further along to the more genteel Whitstable.

El and decided to take a day trip out to Broadstairs between Christmas and New Year, a friend has family in Broadstairs and we stayed there a while back and quite liked it. I did some online research and found a few properties to walk past for a quick look see. I am not ready to do house viewings yet, I want to find a town/village/area that I feel comfortable in first and then focus my attentions there – though keeping my options open as well.

We wrapped up well as it was a windy day and we had a bit of walking to do. Our first stop was in a small area outside of Broadstairs and as we walked up from the station and out in to the countryside I was getting quite excited. Sadly once we got there we found the flat had been sold. First lesson of buying a house learnt. Just because it is showing on sale on the property websites doesn’t mean that it still is. Bummer! I would have bought it without going inside as I loved the look and the location.

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We walked back into town along the cliff tops. stopping to check out a few places on the way. I really like the fact there are cliffs here, albeit small ones.

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We had a coffee and a look around a number of streets in the centre of town that had flats for sale. We liked the look of Broadstairs, even on a windy Saturday in late December it was not overly quiet. We had decided to walk along the front to Ramsgate, into the teeth of a really strong head wind. Scenery wise it was nice, looking down over the (off) white cliffs and sandy beaches, but the wind and then the rain made it a rather unpleasant walk.

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We arrived in Ramsgate, which I was sort of interested in. In has a really good music venue, so would definitely be more lively than Broadstairs which appeals to an older crowd. After a late lunch in pizza express, and with clouds low down and the rain getting heavier and heavier we decided to call it quits and head up to the station. The walk was not the nicest unfortunately.

Some ideas were formed tough, so it was a very worthwhile, though tiring day out.

Over the next couple of weeks I completed a lot of research on locations, prices, crime and other social statistics and looked at loads of properties on line. Being winter and the festive season there was not a lot of action on the property boards, but I did build a list of every possible shape and size property in my price range.

Two weeks, and what seemed like two seasons later and into 2016 I hired a car and headed back out to Broadstairs, this time with a plan to drive up and around to Margate. The sky was clear, and there was not much wind but it was quite cold. I parked the car just off the high street and had a much broader look around, being a Friday (I do not work Friday) there were a lot of older folk around and teenagers on lunch break from school. There were very few people in between old and young, I took that as a good sign of employment. The beach was glorious, under a very blue sky. It is quite an old fashioned beach, beach huts and spade shops. Lovely…

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The drive to Margate along the coast is really nice, some really cool looking surf beaches, almost remote, and all quite appealing. I have read and heard good things about Margate coming up, and it has the lovely Turner gallery as well as a nice little old town. I spent a bit of time driving around trying to find somewhere to park, there were a lot of people around, a lot of ‘youf’ on the street and not a lot of parking choices. I was about to park on one street when I saw two teenage boys just casually riding their bikes along checking out the contents of the parked cars. I decided to keep going – and going. Not finding anywhere else to stop I drove on out of Margate.

It was still early in the day, I had not had lunch yet so decided to carry on looking and headed south to Deal. I have been fascinated by Deal since El and I went there. It is a nice little town, and I thought the same again today. The weather helped of course, but it is flat and small enough to walk around and the old part behind the sea front is quite cute, and very much like a flat St Ives, plus it just seemed to have a nice feel about.

I walked out along Deal pier for a short distance to take a couple of photos up and down the pebbly beach – no smooth sand on this part of the coast !

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The sun was just popping into the clouds as I walked past Deal Castle, so I grabbed a last photo of the day before heading back to the car and off home to London.

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It was a good day out, informative. Over the next few days I did more research and reading and worked on tightening my list of what I want from a property.

I really like Deal, but I cannot afford the parts of town I like. There has also been two weather related incidents in the past couple of weeks. A storm has damaged the sea wall outside of Dover which has forced the closure of the train line from Folkestone to Deal, almost cutting it off from public transport. That storm also saw some localised flooding in town,  so sorry Deal, I have had to drop you from my list, much as I like you.

I have also dropped everywhere else except Broadstairs and Folkestone, I am planning on visiting Folkestone next week. Whitstable and Herne Bay and the stretch along to Margate do not have the sort of sea I want access to, too tidal and calm. Margate and Ramsgate are just not quite up and coming for my needs. Broadstairs is staid and quiet, but with a plan to only keep a property for 3-4 years, I need to know it will sell. Broadstairs still sells. So Sorry Thanet too.

However, if I see the right flat then anywhere could be back on again!

About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
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