A healthy added dose of the good life guar­an­teed

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Not so long ago, if you owned a house in the coun­try, you were lucky if you had a ten­nis court and a small swim­ming pool in the grounds. Along with long walks and plenty of fresh air, that was all you needed to guar­an­tee a healthy life­style. Now, the bar has been set much higher. Gyms and fit­ness rooms are to be found in many of the ru­ral prop­er­ties that come on the mar­ket, and there is in­creas­ing in­ter­est in other add-ons that place healthy liv­ing cen­tre stage.

Rill Farm, a Grade II listed Ge­or­gian farm­house near Buck­fastleigh, south Devon, is typ­i­cal of the new trend for ru­ral prop­er­ties where peace, quiet and views of sheep-grazed fields are just part of an en­tire life­style. Pride of place at Rill Farm is the de­tached yoga stu­dio, which ac­com­mo­dates up to 80 peo­ple; there is also a walled veg­etable gar­den, an or­ganic farm­ing en­ter­prise and more than 30 acres of wood­land. It is the ul­ti­mate holis­tic home.

For own­ers Richard and Louise Hol­man, Lon­don high-fliers who moved to Devon in 2009, the prop­erty has been not just a labour of love but a state­ment of philo­soph­i­cal in­tent. Not even Tom and Bar­bara in The Good Life got as much plea­sure as Richard and Louise from sell­ing their own cher­ries or drink­ing the juice of freshly pressed ap­ples. There were a few false starts as they trans­formed from fast-liv­ing town­ies to rus­tics wor­thy of a Thomas Hardy novel. “At one point, the well that sup­plies the farm with water ran dry just be­fore a large res­i­den­tial re­treat, which caused near-panic,” says Richard. “But we are ex­tremely proud of what we have done with the prop­erty. It is one of those places that seems to en­joy the pres­ence of peo­ple, whether it is a fam­ily bar­be­cue or a yoga group.”

Their home is now on the mar­ket for £2.6mil­lion with Strutt & Parker, and sell­ing agent Oliver Cus­tance Baker says that he is en­coun­ter­ing more and more peo­ple like the Hol­mans: buy­ers from Lon­don and the South East specif­i­cally tar­get­ing Devon and Corn­wall for a life­style swap. “They are look­ing for a ru­ral prop­erty with enough add-ons to keep them ac­tive,” he says. “Their key pri­or­i­ties are fresh air, ac­tive com­mu­ni­ties and a plot of land for a veg­etable patch, so that they can grow their own fresh pro­duce.”

Re­searchers at Strutt & Parker have coined the term “MeCo” – a fu­sion of Me and Eco – for this new breed of buyer con­sciously pur­su­ing a healthy life­style when they move house.

Of those polled for the com­pany’s an­nual Hous­ing Fu­tures Sur­vey, 19 per cent iden­ti­fied as MeCos and 38 per cent said they worked out three or four times a week. The bur­geon­ing gym cul­ture is part of a wider pur­suit of phys­i­cal fit­ness; the num­ber of peo­ple in the UK who par­tic­i­pate in triathlons, once a niche branch of ath­let­ics, now tops 150,000.

“Although the trend for healthy liv­ing is bet­ter es­tab­lished in the US, there is no doubt that the drive to per­fect mind, body and soul is on the rise in the UK,” says Vanessa Hale, of Strutt & Parker’s re­search team. “Peo­ple are tak­ing note of best prac­tice in Amer­ica, where de­vel­op­ers are al­ready of­fer­ing homes that do not just use en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly build­ing ma­te­ri­als, but also cap­i­talise on med­i­cal re­search find­ings such as the im­pact of air and water qual­ity and op­ti­mum light­ing on health and well-be­ing.”

Mistle­toe Barn in East Sus­sex, on the mar­ket for £1.5mil­lion with Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional, is an­other ex­am­ple of a prop­erty that ex­udes a healthy life­style. Stand­out fea­tures in­clude an open-air swim­ming pool, a dance stu­dio, a large or­ganic gar­den and wood­land where no chem­i­cals have been used since 2008. Like Rill Farm, the barn is used for res­i­den­tial yoga re­treats, spread­ing the gospel of healthy liv­ing.

Swim­ming pools are a good ex­am­ple of chang­ing at­ti­tudes to health. Be­fore, if you wanted to keep up with the Jone­ses, you had to build your own. Now they are in­creas­ingly preva­lent, and the com­fort of cov­ered, heated water is giv­ing way to the brisk fresh­ness of a nat­u­ral pool – such as the one at Court Farm in Worcestershire, on the mar­ket for £795,000 with Fisher Ger­man.

Nat­u­ral pools are en­tirely free of chlo­rine and other water clean­ers, many of which are known to have po­ten­tially ad­verse long-term health ef­fects such as eczema and pre­ma­turely age­ing skin.

For the in­creas­ingly health-con­scious prop­erty own­ers of the 21st cen­tury, hi-tech may be hip, but some­times all you need is to go back to ba­sics.

Richard and Louise Hol­man at Rill Farm, be­low, which can fit 80 peo­ple in its yoga stu­dio, bot­tom; Court Farm, left, has a nat­u­ral pool that’s free of chlo­rine

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