Perfect places to live: Tuscany, Kefalonia, Rome... and Burford?

Forbes magazine ranks Cotswolds town sixth most idyllic place in Europe

Even on an overcast day when rain is drizzling down, the Cotswolds town of Burford manages to look stunningly attractive. It needs to, because Americans will be coming in with high expectations since the authoritative Forbes magazine designated it the sixth most idyllic place in Europe. Forbes's advice to US readers wanting to buy property in the UK was that the first place to look is Burford.

They might be surprised when they arrive to find how small it is, as well as how clean, and old, and prosperous. There is no railway station or bus terminus within miles. Burford is a town with a population of only about 1,100. Its 500 or so houses are nearly all constructed of sand-coloured bricks with tiled roofs. Rows of shops line the High Street and the town council meets in a building called The Tolsey, which is where Burford's citizens went to pay their local taxes in Tudor times, and it doubles as the local museum. The main car park is by a river where ducks and swans wandered between parked vehicles.

The town's only downside, according to Forbes, is that houses here are more expensive than anywhere it reviewed, even more than in the wine-growing area of Tuscany. It calculated that the average house cost £532,669.

But that was in November. The good news, should you happen to be a rich American looking for a house to buy, is that the pound has since fallen against the dollar, and Burford prices are not quite that high any more, even in sterling.

The most expensive place in the window of James C Penny estate agents yesterday was a four-bedroom country house, with 73 acres including a football pitch and driving range – yours for £1.5m. For those on a modest budget, there was a matchbox-sized cottage at £185,000.

At Wychwoods estate agents, almost everything on offer was below the figure quoted by Forbes. "There was a bit of a price adjustment after September, when we went through a very quiet patch that lasted into the new year," Tracy Colledge of Wychwoods said, adding: "This is a lovely place to live, if you can afford it – good for families. There are plenty of places to eat, but if you want to go to town, there is Cheltenham, or Oxford, which are not far away. But a tiny cottage with no parking space and no garden can cost £300,000-ish."

The accompanying blurb in Forbes that described the town as the gateway to the Cotswolds, a "mountainous and beautiful region in the centre of southern England", caused some amusement locally. However, Burford's gorgeous High Street does curve steeply up a hillside. There are antique shops, art galleries, tea shops, pubs and boutiques galore, but most of the big names you expect to see in any urban shopping centre are absent. There is not a boarded-up store or derelict building anywhere.

Walkers, a High Street shop that styles itself "The home of Clearview Stoves in the Cotswolds", is a family business that has been selling antiques since 1952, and has sailed through the past few months as if the recession never happened.

"We have been too busy to know how Burford as a town has been doing, but all the businesses here are pretty well established," Henry Walker said. "We continued to have growth for the whole of the last year."

Despite Forbes's pronouncement, one sound not heard on the High Street yesterday was an American accent. There were plenty of visitors everywhere but all appeared to be from nearby. Even the people keeping the estate agents busy have been mostly British, including some famous names like Kate Winslet and the members of Radiohead. But as the season picks up, Burford need not be too surprised if it is suddenly getting more than its share of interest from across the pond.

Burford: Past and present

* Average house price: £532,669. Properties date to the 15th century.

* Town's wealth came from the wool industry in the 14th to 17th centuries.

* On 17 May 1649, three Levellers were executed on Oliver Cromwell's orders in the churchyard.

* Renowned for antiques, art and the Burford Garden Company, whose customers include Kate Moss, David Cameron and Gary Barlow.

Top 10: European places to live

1. Gaiole, in Tuscany

2. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France

3. Copenhagen, Denmark

4. Kefalonia, Greece

5. Ljubljana, Slovenia

6. Burford, UK

7. Budapest, Hungary

8. Sibiu, Romania

9. Rome, Italy

10. Dejà, Spain

According to Forbes magazine

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash