The Weather and Housing

Climate

Expect an endless summer of hot, balmy days and you are likely to be disappointed. Come with an open mind and you may find the British weather unexpected, unpredictable and delightful.

We might have a reputation for being cloudy and wet, but given our latitude, the British Isles are exceptionally temperate, kept warm all year round by the Gulf Stream. Except in the far north, snowfall is minimal and extreme cold rare.

We have four seasons: spring, from March to May; summer, from June to August; autumn from September to November; and winter, from December through February. Each season is distinct in terms of weather patterns and their impact upon the landscape. In fact, anticipating and watching the changing of the seasons can be one of the joys of British life.

Spring is particularly popular in Britain. We are a nation of gardeners and, as winter fades into memory, spring flowers and blossom appear as if from nowhere, scattering colour across the countryside. Most towns and cities have impressive public parks and even in the heart of London, you cannot fail to notice the arrival of spring. Later in the year, the countryside turns to gold as leaves fall and our landscape settles down for the winter. We boast many ancient woodlands and in autumn, a walk amongst beech or oak groves can be spectacular.

Spring and autumn may be the times when Britain appears at its best but never underestimate a British summer. Our summer days are long, our skies can be the most perfect blue and temperatures have been known to match those in the tropics. In summer, take advantage of our many miles of stunning coastline. In the UK, you are never more than two or three hours from the sea. Make the most of it.

Even winter has much to offer: crisp days, colourful skies, the scent of gunpowder in the air as Bonfire night approaches and the ever-renewed hope of snow at Christmas. Yes, we do have a lot of rain. It’s what keeps our countryside so green. We also have clouds. But look at our sunsets!

Incidentally, it is not true that the English are always talking about the weather and some may be offended if you make that assumption. A comment about the weather might be included as part of a greeting, for example, “Good morning, what a lovely day.” Or, we might comment upon a particular extreme: “Isn’t it gorgeous?” or “I can’t believe how cold it’s become.” And that, really, is it!

Finally, you might like to bear in mind that there is no such thing as inclement weather – just unsuitable clothing!

Geography & Housing

The United Kingdom (UK) comprises England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The four countries are organised into counties, each with its own cities, towns and villages. Generally speaking, County, District, Town and Parish councils act as the local governing bodies and administrative centres.

Urban and City Life

Most British people live in urban areas that provide good commuter access to the main economic and business centres.

Flats and housing in these places can seem cramped if you are used to large living spaces and having some distance between you and your neighbours.

In large cities such as London, one and two bedroom flats are plentiful, although the more popular areas will be expensive. Family houses are rare and can stretch the most generous budget. In addition to being quite an expensive option they will quite often lack parking. However they will be convenient for public transport, entertainment and city amenities.

There are alternatives, though, providing you are willing to commute.

Suburbs

Represent a good compromise for singles, couples and families alike. They usually benefit from good commuter connections; fare a little better on the cost to size ratio and parking is easier. Most suburbs have their own facilities making it unnecessary to travel into the centre of town for shopping or leisure. Getting out to the country at weekends will be much easier.

Commuter Towns

Often sizeable and with a full range of amenities, these towns usually have good train links and access to road networks. Coupled with a greater range of more affordable family housing, these score high in the cost to size ratio, but commuters may have to endure longer journeys to and from the office.

Rural Villages

Set amidst rolling countryside, offering fresher air and a more relaxed pace of life, rural villages can be very appealing. But the benefits are found at the expense of convenience, accessibility and local facilities. Most families will need two cars and may spend a lot of time driving children to school, friends’ houses, swimming and dance classes etc. Generally, rural life offers the best value for money but there are exceptionally popular villages that command high premiums.

Property Jargon

When looking for property you will be confronted by all sorts of jargon and abbreviations. Here are some of the most common: