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24May

Now that we are able to meet up with up to thirty people outside and six people (or two households) inside, there is a great opportunity to welcome friends and family over to your garden and outside areas to enjoy their company and socialise once again. 

So today, we have some tips for you on how you can ensure that you keep those outside garden areas lovely and enticing, whilst keeping your guests comfortable, enjoying themselves and socialising safely at the same time. 

It’s all about the Heat!

Firstly, it’s all about the keeping everyone as warm as possible during Spring and early summer. If people don’t feel warm, then they won’t want to stay outside. Encourage people to dress warmly for the cold weather with lots of layers. Have blankets at the ready and hot water bottles to keep people warm. 

After the sun goes down, (or even before), a patio heater may be your best friend during the colder parts of the spring and summer. Additionally, investing in a Fire Pit or Chimenea of some description can also help to keep your group warm on a colder evening. 

 

Shelter from the Weather – come rain or shine!

A covering such as a gazebo or marquee (with sides open of course), or an event shelter of some kind will help to protect your group from all kinds of weather – either by keeping you all warmer and protected from the elements if its windy or raining, or by acting as a sun shade in hot weather. Failing that, even a patio umbrella can help to keep you all sheltered.

 

What’s on the Menu?

Of course, it’s all about food and drink when you get together with friends, so really think about tailoring your menu for the weather and your audience. 

If it is going to be a colder evening, then some warm snacks or hot dishes will help to keep everyone nice and toasty. Dishes such as jacket potatoes, slow-cooked chilli, hearty soups etc may not be the immediate thing that you think of when entertaining, but these could be great for cooler evenings. Flasks of hot chocolate, Tea and coffee can also help to keep people warm.

With hotter weather comes the opportunity for BBQ food, party food and ice-cold drinks to keep the gathering in full swing!

 

Let me Entertain You

It’s a well-known fact that if your visitors are having fun, then they will stay for longer, so it helps to consider the entertainment! Why not have some music on in the background. A party is not a party without music, so choose your music to suit your audience.

You could also organise garden games to keep little ones (and grown-ups!) running around and busy, or perhaps toasting marshmallows and some card games for the adults. Keeping people distracted means that if the weather is cold, they hopefully won’t be feeling it as much! Plus, if they are having fun, they will stay longer!

Put up a small tent or shelter for the kids and give them blankets to build a den they can play in together. 

 

Lights Up!

As the Sun starts to go down, really think about lighting for your get-together to create a great ambience. Investing in some solar lighting means that you won’t need to worry about electricity or burning through endless batteries. You could also consider rows of fairy light, or perhaps even a portable lightbulb or two which seem to very on-trend this season!

Remember of course, even though you’re outside where the virus is less likely to spread, it’s still a good idea to employ social distancing, so choose your garden set up wisely to allow for distancing or being seated in “bubbles” and give everyone a chair of their own rather than sharing outside sofas and the like if possible. 

 

We hope that this gives you some ideas of how you can get back to entertaining now that we can gather in larger groups again.

If we can be of assistance for any advice on buying, selling or renting your home or property then we’re always happy to chat so why not give us a call!

 

 

26Mar

Our clients often approach us to discuss buying or renting a property for the long-term, but sometimes situations may arise where you, or someone that you know needs accommodation for the shorter term, or in a hurry.

This could be perhaps because you have to leave the accommodation where you have been living at short notice or in an emergency, or maybe you are at a stage in your life where you are in between life arrangements, or even need somewhere to live for short periods of time due to work or study.

Over the last few years, we have seen a growing trend in people coming to us for short term accommodation because they have sold their existing property and their new property requires renovation or they haven’t yet found a new property and want a base whilst they are looking. 

With the amount of building work always ongoing in the local area, and people looking to extend their current home rather than moving, we also often have enquiries from people who need short term accommodation whilst home renovations are taking place. 

If you need accommodation on a short-term basis, then here are some options for you to consider:

Staying with family or friends

If you can’t rely on family and friends to help you out when you need a place to stay then when can you? If there is room for you to stay with friends and family then this could be a great option if you need somewhere to live in a hurry as typically the cost will be less, if anything at all and you get to spend more quality time with each other. 

The downside? Space can become quite cramped, quite quickly if you’re a guest in someone else’s home. The place doesn’t feel like your own and it can be even worse if you’re crashing on the sofa rather than in your own room. Plus, tensions can start to arise quickly as everyone is used to living in different ways. Family and friends are a good option for just a few days or even a week or two, but perhaps not always an ideal situation if weeks are moving into months. 

Staying in a Hotel

Although Hotel stays are only for essential travel within the current climate in “normal times” (if there is even such a thing anymore!), staying in a hotel could be a good option if you need short term accommodation. This option is quick and easy to arrange, and gives you your own privacy. Plus, there’s room service and someone to clean your room – what’s not to like! You’ll also be guaranteed the option of breakfast and perhaps dinner too, without having to do the cooking.

However, this can be a costly option, unless you can come to some sort of arrangement with the hotel for a longer-term stay. It’s always worth trying to negotiate this with staff at the hotel. The downsides are also that depending on the size of your family, everyone living in one room can feel quite cramped, and the lack of catering and laundry facilities may quickly start to become an issue too. Again, this may be another issue for a few days to a week or two, but perhaps not feasible for longer. 

Airbnb/Air Hosting via Aubrey and Finn

If you want the combination of your own space, catering and laundry facilities and a property which is already fully furnished, then renting a property via Airbnb may be the answer. 

Did you know that here at Aubrey and Finn we also have our own version of Airbnb called “Air Hosting” for the local area, giving you the option to be able to book short term accommodation via our website or by contacting us without the fees that Airbnb add. 

Our Airbnb properties make a great stop-gap to get you out of a bind and are often owned by people who live in the local area, but work or stay away over different periods during the year, meaning that they can’t rent out their property long-term but they can short term. 

This can turn into a win-win situation for them and for you! They have someone living in the property whilst it’s empty and you get somewhere to stay when you need. We also have properties that we rent where the owners prefer short-term lets. In between the lets, our expert cleaning and maintenance teams will service the property, ensuring that everything is in tip-top condition for your arrival and everything is cleaned after you leave too. 

So, if you’re considering short-term accommodation in St Albans or the local area and would like some help finding a short term let property then why not give us a call on (01727) 221290. 

 

 

27Feb

Typically, when people move from London to St Albans as the vast majority of the St Albans population has over the years, the prime desire we often hear, is to be quite central, in close proximity to the station and to other local amenities within the city centre.

However, after a few years, we often find that people are back in our offices wishing to move again. This time their priorities have changed as they have perhaps now started a family, acquired a couple of pets, or simply just need more space. They will then normally migrate outwards to other parts of St Albans with the priority of buying a nice “family” property or “forever home”, often closer to local schools, transport links or more green spaces.

As all of us who have ever moved home will know, a property which works for right now, may not always work for the future and as life changes, what we need from a property changes too. 

It’s easy to become quite St Albans centric in terms of thinking about where to live around the city centre and in the wider reaches of the areas it offers, but if you fancy a taste of the countryside, there are some wonderful rural parts of St Albans just on the outskirts with bustling village communities that are definitely worth a look as these offer the best of both worlds. 

The “Village” communities outside the city typically offer the benefits of more property for your money, more green spaces, access to fantastic schools (as do most places locally), easier access to the motorways and a local community feel. 

(Caveat - If you will be moving in order to secure a school place any time soon then it’s important to do your research and check catchment areas as there are some black holes in St Albans, as recent years allocations have proved).

Given the “new normal” that we are all living in, maybe now the fact that many of us can work from home remotely means that actually being in close proximity to the station for a quick journey to work isn’t such a prime consideration. It may also be that the last year has prompted your desire to live somewhere where you are a little more spread out from others. 

So if you fancy a taste of Village life, why not consider one of the local villages attached to St Albans either by location or postcode.

 

Bricket Wood

4 miles equidistance to both St Albans and Watford, this popular AL2 village boasts easy access to both the M1 and M25 motorways. With its own station, grade 2 listed buildings, pubs, shops, school and community facilities, this village is a real commuter hot spot. Secondary schools are available in St Albans and Watford. Nearby woods and countryside offer ample opportunities for walking. 

Chiswell Green

A much-extended village/suburb of St Albans, Chiswell Green in the AL2 postcode is also ideal for commuters as it too offers quick access to the M25 and M1 motorways. Plus, with Starbucks and Waitrose both just on the doorstep, the popular Greenwood park with its own Café, plus a slew of other Pubs, shops, schools and community facilities, Chiswell Green is another sought-after place. Chiswell Green also offers a quick walk into the city centre and Verulamium Park so it’s perfect for those who want to be a “stones throw” away from the city centre without actually being “in” the centre. Chiswell Green has its own secondary school, and also offers access to other schools in St Albans and Watford. 

Colney Heath

Situated between St Albans and Hatfield, the AL4 village of Colney Heath can be found just up the A414 not far from the A1M. With a popular common and river running through it, Colney Heath has more of a feel of being in the countryside with a range of rural walks on the doorstep, whilst still being very close to local amenities including popular pubs, church, school and shops.  Getting into a preferred secondary school from Colney Heath has proved a little trickier in recent years, although this is always subject to change each year. 

Flamstead 

One of the AL3 villages further away from St Albans, this really is a taste of rural life but with the M1 motorway and other great transport links literally on the doorstep and easy access into St Albans in around 10-15 minutes. Flamstead has its own pubs, a village shop, church, a nursery and a primary school, plus a strong village community which makes it a fab place to live. Children have the choice of outstanding secondary schools in Harpenden. Literally in the middle of the countryside, this village enables you to either stay happily “cut off” from civilisation, or the ability to return to more populated areas in just 10-15 minutes.

London Colney

Featuring a fantastic combination of pubs, primary schools and shops, plus of course with Colney Fields Shopping Centre on the door step, this large village is actually one of Britain’s biggest villages, boasting a population of around 10,000 people! Situated in the AL1 & AL2 postcodes, the River Colne runs through the centre of the village, giving it a village feel at the centre, but the M25 and A414 are both only a couple of minutes from the village. Like neighbouring Colney Heath, London Colney has suffered from a drought of secondary school places in recent years, with children split between a combination of different secondaries throughout St Albans and further afield, however as we said before, the landscape changes year-on-year so do your research. 

Markyate

Next door to Flamstead on the A5 towards Dunstable and the furthest “AL” village as it’s right on the border of Bedfordshire, Markyate creeps into an AL3 postcode but is only a 15 min drive back to St Albans city centre and a 10-minute drive to Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Zoo. Again, Markyate has excellent transport links to the M1 and easy access to Luton Parkway station for commuters (meaning in “normal times” you get a seat before the St Albans City Station madness!). The village has a variety of shops, pubs, a primary school and churches, plus other community amenities and is surrounded by local countryside. Like neighbouring Flamstead, most children in the village currently attend secondary school in Harpenden.

Park Street

Park Street, within the AL2 postcode and neighbouring both Bricket Wood and Chiswell Green has the benefit of having its own train station on the Euston line. Again, this busy village office great local transport links with close proximity to the M25 and M1, plus the A414 too. Park Street has community a plenty with primary schools, shops, pubs and other local amenities situated within the village, plus the choice of St Albans and Watford secondary schools. With fields and woods on the door step, Park Street offers something for everyone. 

Redbourn

A popular AL3 village with its own village common, numerous pubs and amenities plus a High Street, Redbourn is often a popular choice for moving out to “the countryside” because the village is surrounded by countryside but is also literally is just 10 minutes down the A5183 and offers easy access to the M1 motorway. Redbourn offers primary school options plus various community buildings and is a strong village community. Children from Redbourn attend Secondary school in St Albans, Harpenden and Hemel. The “nearest school” catchment is split in the village so worth checking previous year’s statistics for your property if this is a consideration. 

Sandridge

Some would argue that Sandridge almost merges into Marshalswick nowadays, but the small village with its own high street, pubs and amenities really is a standalone community.  A church and village hall plus recreation facilities are on offer in the village. Plus “Heartwood forest” is also nearby. Sandridge also offers access to outstanding secondary schools in St Albans. 

All in all, moving to any one of the local village communities surrounding St Albans offers the best of both worlds - access to the city centre within a 10-to-15-minute drive, and the opportunity of enjoying the slower pace of village life within a smaller community and with so many fantastic options for village living right on the doorstep, the question is, which one of them really is right for your next move?

We are always happy to help and offer advice on local areas surrounding St Albans, so if you would like more information please do feel free to give us a call on 01727 221290.

Why not let us know what you think and give us your opinion about living in different villages surrounding the St Albans area!

 

30Jan

The start of the year is one of the busiest times for us as estate agents, as people start to make plans for their next move.

 

We may currently be in lockdown, but selling property and moving home is still able to take place and so there is still lots happening on the housing market, especially around the St Albans and Hertfordshire area. 

 

Even though house moves can still go ahead, people are a little bit more reticent about having large amounts of prospective buyers/tenants traipsing through their homes, and if you are looking for a home, you may want to cut down the number of properties that you visit in your search also.

 

So, if you are looking for a new home, why not get laser focused about what you are looking for in your next move, and spend time doing your research online before you get started.

 

Here are a few tips for house hunting which will help you to hone down your searches down before you even step through the door of any properties.

 

1. Location, location, location.

Location is key for many, especially in this area. It might be that you need to be within walking distance or easy travel distance of a station, or motorway. Perhaps your key consideration is to be within the catchment for certain schools, or you want to be able to get to friends, family or a central place of work easily.

 

If you know that having open fields nearby warms your soul, and you love the feel of village life, then somewhere in the countryside may be more suited to your way of living, such as the myriad of small villages on the outskirts of the major Hertfordshire towns.

 

Using tools such as Google Earth can also give you a good idea of the area, as can taking a drive around if able, or visiting the area during the day and in the evening, although we appreciate that things may look a little different at the moment!

 

 

2. Consider the layout of your perfect property

When you start your search, it is important to be clear about what kind of feel and layout you are looking for in a home. It also helps to know whether you would be happy to create the layout you want, or whether you want to move straight into something which already works for your needs. 

 

Think about your lifestyle, and what suits it. So, for example, do you prefer Open Plan living where all of the rooms merge seamlessly around the house, or do you have small children or pets which would make Open Plan living a nightmare, and so separate rooms with doorways for containment would be more important?

 

Would you prefer a cottage with lots of stairs, a newer build home, one on three floors, or all on one level? Do you want an apartment? A property with a lot of garden space, a front garden, or a property which opens straight onto the road? Are you looking for a family friendly estate, something city centric or something mor eon the outskirts?

 

Also think about how you like to live. Do you live a more outdoorsy lifestyle? If so, then something like a utility room or somewhere where you can access the property through the back or through the garage rather than having to traipse muddy feet all through the front, might be a must.

 

If owning a car or more than one is a necessity for you, then it might be that you need a garage, or somewhere on your property to park it, so homes in roads where only on-street parking is available may not work for you.

 

Most Estate agents, including ourselves, are offering virtual walk-throughs nowadays, which makes it a lot easier to get a good idea of the space before actually setting foot in the property.

 

3. Budget

Once you’ve worked out the rough location and type of property you are interested in looking for, of course a consideration will be your budget and whether you budget matches the kind of property you are looking for. If not, then you may decide to look at different kinds of properties if location is key, or at more budget-friendly areas if the property is going to be make-or-break for you.

 

 

4. Vision Board your next move!

Okay bear with us here but mind mapping or vision boarding your next move can be a great way to work out what you really want.

 

Sit down and focus on what’s really important to you in a home, what are your non negotiables during your search, vs compromises that you are prepared to make and add them to your vision board.

 

If you have other family members, especially kids, then this can really be a really fun way to spend time getting them involved. You might be surprised what is important to them versus what isn’t, and also with you. Vision boarding can really help you to get clarity on what is most important to you for your next move.

 

Once you’ve whittled your searches down to only the properties which really match your criteria, and you’ve done your research online, looked at floor plans, done the video walk throughs, looked at the picture, made sure it fits with location, property type and budget, then we would suggest a walk through to see whether this property could be your new home.

 

Hopefully having done all of your homework online, this makes things easier and less time consuming than visiting multiple properties during your search and it will also make it safer for you, not having to view as many homes, or make any more essential journeys than you need to.

 

Of course, if you are planning your next move then don’t forget that we can always assist and we are very happy to help, so why not give us a call on (01727) 221290 for an initial chat.