On the English coast, beach huts are tearing up during the pandemic (© Adrian Dennis – AFP)
Since the pandemic, the English have been increasing their local stays at the sea. As a result, the demand for beach cabins is soaring. A beach cabin in Dorset, on the English Channel, even sold for 330,000 pounds (380,000 euros).
(BFM Immo) – With their vivid colors, beach huts have brightened up postcards of the British coast for a long time. But since the pandemic, the demand for these small shelters is exploding as the English multiply local stays at the sea.
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In her yellow and white mini-house, Melanie Whitehead gazes out at the North Sea, a hot cup of tea in her hand. This ex-urban planner does not use her cabin for her historical purpose – to put on a swimsuit out of sight – but rather to enjoy the surroundings while being comfortably installed. “I really hate swimming and going in the water,” explains the retiree, who says she enjoyed being able to escape to her cabin during the pandemic, when her husband and daughter were constantly at home.
A third of the average price for a house in the UK
She bought her shelter in 2008 for around 6,000 pounds (6,900 euros at the current rate) in Walton-on-the-Naze, a popular seaside resort in eastern England where for over a century beach huts line up for miles, sometimes rising in three rows of stairs. A golden affair, compared to the prices that are now practiced. In the region, some of these houses have recently been snatched up to more than 80,000 pounds (92,500 euros), explained to AFP Barry Hayes, of the real estate agency Boyden. This is about a third of the average price for a house in the UK (255,000 pounds).
This is far from a record: a beach cabin in Dorset, on the English Channel, sold for 330,000 pounds (380,000 euros) this month. Despite these astronomical prices, the cabins are often rudimentary: most have neither water nor electricity, and it is forbidden to spend the night there.
Melanie’s is a little more equipped: a gas cylinder powers a hotplate and an oven, which she uses to make scones, those British cupcakes often accompanying tea. “It’s perfect,” she explains, curled up on her sofa with a quilted quilt and colorful blankets that she herself crocheted.
Some offer much more comfortable facilities
Among the many cabins rented by the day, some offer much more comfortable facilities, or even services that are all the rage with a new audience on social networks, such as cocktail bars or table football. Most daily renters are young women between the ages of 20 and 30 with their families, says Sarah Stimson, who runs a rental business called Walton-on-the-Naze Beach Huts, and 70% of bookings are made through Instagram.
She started in this business three years ago with her husband. The pandemic has given her her best year, she says. It is full until September for the seven cabins they now own and the three others they manage. “I think the Covid made people look for certain things to do in the UK,” which has imposed strict border restrictions, says Sarah Stimson, “It made us a little more visible.”
A stone’s throw from the huge waves crashing on the Walton-on-the-Naze esplanade, locals read the newspaper, take a nap or chat, Next to cabins named “Paradise Found” and “Serenity”, a group of women celebrating 60 years of friendship at prosecco. Sarah Stimson takes advantage of her personal cabin, a small, bright green hut, named Queenie after her great-grandmother: “It’s a bit like a dollhouse for adults”.
Prices have doubled this year
Despite booming business, the Stimson family has no plans to purchase any more beach houses at this time as prices have doubled this year. An average cabin in Frinton-on-Sea, a town considered more upscale than Walton-on-the-Naze, now sells for between 50,000 and 60,000 pounds (57,800-70,000 euros). ”Last year we were selling them for around 30,000 pounds, “says Barry Hayes, for whom the Covid-19 has” changed the game “.
As relentless changes in overseas travel rules make vacation planning difficult, “this uncertainty will keep interest at a high level for now,” the real estate agent predicts. Whatever the market, Melanie Whitehead has no intention of moving, she who says she can “settle comfortably here, watch the view and forget the world”.