Couple escape to the country at St Osyth Priory
As a result of last year’s lockdowns and flexible working here to stay, it’s no wonder Rightmove saw a 126% increase in people looking to leave urban environments in the hunt for a more rural home. Michael and his husband Francois, both in their 40s, are one such couple who escaped to the country this year, finding their dream home and rural idyll at St Osyth Priory, a hidden gem on the Essex coastline.
Michael explained: “We moved to Chafford Hundred about four years ago, having emigrated a few years prior from South Africa. At first it was great having everything so close by, such as the trains into London, where we both worked, and of course Lakeside, but increasingly the busyness of the area got to us, so we started looking to move somewhere quieter.
“The first lockdown saw us both working from home, and both our companies are implementing flexible working policies going forward, which allowed us to open our search wider than we would have previously considered. We came across St Osyth Priory online, and with Francois being the history buff that he is, it immediately appealed. We called that morning and were sent a video tour of the development and a couple of completed properties. When we finally visited a few weeks later, we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.”
The couple bought a two-bedroom, mid-terraced house, with wonderful views of the residents’ green. Homes at St Osyth Priory have been designed with modern living in mind, and Michael and Francois have taken advantage of the flexible interiors using the spare room as an office. The interior design also appealed, as Francois said: “City & Country has designed the property wonderfully; the house is nicely laid out, has lots of storage and lush new wool carpets. The kitchen being fully fitted with high end appliances was also a bonus. We’re starting to put our own stamp on it, but we’re in no rush as the neutral décor meant we haven’t had to inherit someone else’s bad taste!”
Part of the fantastic community at St Osyth Priory, Michael and Francois have instantly settled into and love their new routine, such as the historic grounds, welcoming community, and being surrounded by rare breed and native livestock: “There’s a real mix of people living here: our next-door neighbours are in their 30s, there’s a lady in her 20s a few doors down, and a few people in their 60s, but we’ve all moved for the same reason – peace and quiet. You’re not just buying a new home here but a new lifestyle, and it’s wonderful. The estate with all the animals, the village with a proper local pub and shops, the circular walk to take our dachshund Jack out, it’s incomparable,” said Michael.
Francois added: “From the minute you drive through the gates you’re in a different world. What City & Country has done is another class – they take these listed places and breathe new life into them so they’re available for generations to come. The look on our friends’ faces when they visit for the first time says it all: the privilege of living next to the Priory and all its heritage is priceless, we feel blessed to be a part of it.”