Should you buy a country cottage? There is no doubt about it a country cottage is many people’s idea of the perfect place to live and for romantically inclined newly-weds the ideal is often a pretty country cottage, with roses climbing round the door, a couple of cats stretched out in front of a roaring log fire and homemade jam simmering on the stove. Buying a country cottage can be an undeniably exciting experience.

This said however,  it can also be an experience that is laced with problems unless you fully understand the drawbacks as well as the pleasures of living in what is often an historical dwelling.

While the majority of cottages follow a similar basic layout, they do vary enormously in style from region to region, depending on what materials were available to hand at the time they were constructed.

For instance in the South of England you are more likely to find thatched timber-framed buildings, whereas if you travel as far as the Lake District you will find that most of the cottages are constructed in the local grey stone with heavy slate roofs.

Also country cottage windows are often smaller, or only on certain sides of the building, where the climate is harsh and winters are longer. Since most cottages were originally built to house farm labourers, or outside staff for large estates, don’t except much in the way of luxury or space if you are considering a renovation project for sophisticated living.

Many of the bedrooms were designed to merely hold a bed and a small chest of drawers, while the downstairs living space is often cramped with rooms running off each other, instead of from a spacious central hallway.

Invariably ceilings and doorways are low, as people were smaller in the days when many period cottages were designed, and plentiful accommodation was not a priority.

As cottage inhabitants worked long hours, leaving little time for much more than eating supper and falling exhausted into bed, and of course they didn’t need space for electronic equipment, wardrobes full of clothes, kitchen equipment or even huge boxes of children’s toys.

So do think long and hard before you finally commit yourselves to living a modern life in a home that was originally designed for a by-gone way of life.

To help you decide whether a country cottage is really for you we have listed the pros and cons of living in this delightful, but sometimes restrictive, style of abode.

Pros of buying a country cottage:

Pretty & quaint, with a sense of history.

Most cottages have a wealth of original features such as oak beams, old bread ovens, open hearths, brick floors, wooden staircases or even their own well.

If you don’t mind hard work you can sometimes pick up a run-down estate cottage cheap at auction.

This type of property can be enormous fun to decorate and furnish.

If it has thick walls, a cottage can be cosy and warm in winter and yet cool in summer.

Often placed in a village where there is a sense of community.

Due to a growing scarcity value usually holds its price.

Generally comes with an established garden, orchard or even several acres of land

Cons of buying a country cottage::

Can feel cramped with low ceilings and small rooms.

If you, or your partner, are tall you will have to get used to ducking through low doorways.

Bedrooms and living rooms are not huge which can be a problem if you have a boisterous young family that needs plenty of activity space.

Some cottages have very tiny windows, these can make the interior feel gloomy, especially in winter on a dull or wet day.

Cottages often have very steep and narrow stairs, which can be difficult or even dangerous if you have any sort of mobility problem.

Sloping floors can be difficult for placing furniture or kitchen units.

On some cottages the front door opens straight onto the road, making them dangerous for young children.

Cottage walls are often uneven and just not square which can cause a real headache when you want to hang picture or put up shelves.

Storage space can be a real problem, especially if low ceilings preclude the installation of fitted wardrobes.

Owning an old building can be quite a responsibility, as you become the guardian for sympathetic restoration and decoration of your cottage.

Surveyors, historically, will find far more fault with an old cottage sometimes causing a problem if you want to sell up or get a mortgage.

Building restrictions, especially if a property is Grade 1 listed, may hamper your plans for extensions or home improvements.

Maintenance is usually high. You may be presented with unexpected problems such as dry rot or subsidence. All of this can be quite costly, as complicated renovation will require the attention of a skilled builder who is experienced in dealing with old lath and plaster or crumbling brickwork!

Rising damp can be a problem as can structural movement, leading to subsidence and even cracked foundations.

Thatched cottages are expensive to maintain and run a very real risk of catching fire in a heatwave or even from your own chimney.

You may not necessarily enjoy the lack of anonymity that goes with a country lifestyle.

You can end up paying more than you would for similar accommodation space in a modern house and, in addition, have large ongoing maintenance bills.