You’ve won the lottery! Your wealth advisor has recommended how much you should put away to pay for necessary and important elements such as pensions, investments, charitable donations and children’s education. They have allocated £5m of the remaining pot to invest in property. What would you buy?
My first thought would be to allocate approximately £4m of the windfall to a country purchase and the remainder to something in London.
In terms of location I wouldn’t stray too far from where I live now. For more than three quarters of my life, I’ve lived in the beautiful part of the Wiltshire and West Berkshire countryside that stretches between Pewsey and Hungerford. Barring university and a short service commission in the Life Guards, when I served in Bosnia, and a stint of living and working in London for ten years, this patch has always been home.
My dream house would probably sit just to the west of Hungerford. The position is far outside the immediate commuter belt to be in proper, unflashy countryside and yet it’s still accessible for London. As a yardstick, I often think that a proper country town should be somewhere that you could do all your Christmas shopping and Hungerford, particularly at the north end of the High Street, ticks those boxes. Between Roxtons, clothing boutique Mojo & McCoy, the lingerie shop Angela Knight, and the jewellers Furr & Co among others, there’s plenty of choice and, for everything else, Marlborough is only a few miles down the A4.
With a budget of £4m, I’d expect to be able to find a good-sized, period family house with six or seven bedrooms, in excellent condition and recently renovated. These days more buyers are looking for houses that are of a manageable size and something that’s about 4,500 sq ft is ideal. It would have the all-important live-in kitchen, which we all love, and both a swimming pool and tennis court in the garden. I’d anticipate that there would be a few outbuildings one of which we could convert into ancillary accommodation, if it hadn’t already been done.
For this money I’d expect that the house would come with a substantial amount of land—approximately fifty to sixty acres. This would give me as much room as I need for equestrian activities: a pony for each of my children who ride and a team chaser for me. It’s lovely riding country with lots of hills to gallop the horses up and it’s pretty easy to piece together a good couple of hours of hacking without venturing near any main roads.
That acreage allows the potential to grow our own hay as well as room to breed a foal or two and train a point-to-pointer–something I’ve always been interested in doing. The cottage would be perfect for a couple who could help out in the house and the garden or with the horses on a part-time basis.
With what’s left of the lottery money I’d buy a two-bedroom flat in London—probably in Fulham—as an investment. Fortunately for me, I don’t need to spend a lot of time in the city so I don’t need a base there. But it would still be good to have a foothold in the London market. I’d rent it out to professionals for now and, when the children are older, it’s there for them to use.