House Hunter: 'I'd like a rural house to rent out'

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The Independent Online

The problem

"I am interested in purchasing a small holiday home in the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border areas. Ideally I would run this buy-to-let as a small rental business, taking care of it on a part-time basis and using it as a second home and occasional weekend retreat.

"I have a small amount of savings to invest and would need a buy-to-let mortgage. I am not too fussed about making a profit but would like the investment costs to be covered (mortgage and taxes).

"The home could be a bargain - somewhere with potential to do up or somewhere that needs some redecorating and furnishing. Either way, in order to place the property on the books of a letting agent such as Rural Retreats it would need to be in a peaceful setting away from busy roads and be reasonably photogenic.

"I am not familiar with much of the English countryside but I do know that the Cotswolds around the area of Kingham and Moreton-in-Marsh is very beautiful and there are many wildlife parks etc for children to visit.

"My budget is £250,000 or below. Can you help?"

Sally Partridge

The advice

House hunter replies:

Linked to London by the A40 and M40, providing access to the capital in less than two hours, and with a train journey to Paddington in less than an hour, Oxfordshire is a popular weekend spot.

Famous for its university county town, and, to the west, the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, this is a picturesque location. All this comes at a considerable price, though, and the size of your budget will restrict the areas that you can consider. Prices across the county vary greatly, affected by distance from Oxford and transport factors. And as its a popular weekend destination, the second-home market is extremely active. A two-bedroom property should be within your range, though, and as you plan to maintain the property yourself, a small house is more feasible.

Gloucestershire enjoys similar popularity among weekenders. Divided into three regions - the Cotswolds, the Forest of Dean and the Severn Vale - this area offers more scope, with its greater distance from London resulting in lower average prices than Oxfordshire.

Joey Canessa

Property one: Isis 75

Agent's details: Just within your budget, a completely different set-up is this three-bedroom New England style lakeside lodge in Gloucestershire. Part of The Watermark development, built around the shores of six lakes, with views of the water, within the Cotswold Water Park, it has no end of facilities on hand - fishing lakes, water-skiing, cable skiing and sailing lakes and free golf and tennis. It would make a great base for touring the Cotswolds.

Price: £249,000 plus £10,500 for furniture

Agent: The Watermark, 01285 862288.

Property two: 1 The Terrace

Agent's details: Poised at the gateway to the Cotswolds, in Milton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, this is a bargain. In need of modernisation, this terraced cottage has beamed ceilings and exposed stone walls, two bedrooms and garden.

Price: £198,000.

Agent: Carter and Jonas, 01865 511444.

Property three: Warren Row

Agent's details: Dating back to 1870, this Oxfordshire cottage is fully refurbished. Forming part of a terrace, it is well located in a small village near Henley. Open-plan reception and kitchen, two bedrooms and a wet room.

Price: £237,500.

Agent: Peers and Hilton, 01491 411066.