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

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Qualified Teacher Required to work with SEN - Nottingham

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are cur...

Senior Infrastructure Analyst

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Infrastructure Ana...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments