Fortunately for my blood pressure, Kirstie Allsopp’s new town and country property programme, Kirstie’s Best of Both Worlds, did not involve wealthy home buyers purchasing both a chic town pied-à-terre and a country retreat in one 60-minute programme. Instead, it focused on Kirstie’s attempts to persuade couples to look outside the city centre for a lifestyle to really suit. Fun factoid: house prices decrease by an average of £1,300 for every minute you add to your daily commute.
This week’s couple were Grace and Lindsay, a meek, softly spoken pair from Belfast. Town mouse Grace has enjoyed her four years of London life and was hoping for more of that café culture on the doorstep of their new home in Northern Ireland. Country mouse Lindsay cared only for peace, quiet and perhaps a stunning mountain view from the bedroom window.
Kirstie suggested they compromise with a property somewhere in between. We used to call this “the suburbs” in my day, and it was derided as a dreary purgatory by both city folk and their country cousins, but now, apparently, it’s the height of desirability. If Kirstie has her way, a Zone 6 garden shed with a bucket for a loo will soon be priced out of all affordability.
In the meantime, Kirstie – or should that be Channel 4’s research team? – has done a marvellous job selecting desirable properties for the window shoppers at home to salivate over. A beautifully furnished Victorian three-bed for £159,000? Yes, please. And as for that total bargain overlooking a lake? We didn’t need Grace’s mum cooing over its wintertime resemblance to Narnia to know it was something special.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for this supposedly new format. It’s just Location, Location, Location minus the calming influence of Phil Spencer. While the old estate agent’s adage still stands, Kirstie’s new house-hunting tips didn’t seem particularly useful. They’re best summed up as, “Have a job that allows you to work from home and don’t forget to be rich.”