The Quaint (and quirky) British Home

The average home in the UK is smaller than what you may be used to – as a matter of fact most things here are smaller.

House in Buckfastleigh, Devon

So, will it be a cosy cottage?  A city centre flat?  Or perhaps a rural idyll on the outskirts of a charming village. Whatever you do choose, chances are it’s going to be a lot smaller than what you may be used to. Not only are the room sizes smaller, but so are the appliances.  I’ve seen houses with doorways no more than 5 feet tall – I haven’t got the foggiest idea how they can get any furniture through the door!

I have lived in a Victorian Terrace, an old stone cottage, a flat and a modern bungalow. Since 2015 we have been living in the annex of a 500 year old manor house, which is lovely and full of history but, it’s bloody freezing in the winter. When looking for a property try to find one with gas central heating and double glazing – and if you can find one with a wood burner even better.  Every place I have lived in so far has had mold in varying degrees. To combat it you can either get a dehumidifier or try to keep your windows open (especially in bathrooms) as much as possible.

A few more points on housing:

  • Garages are small but just big enough to fit your compact British car. I used to drive a Vauxhall Vectra, I could park it in the garage and I get out of the car but I couldn’t close the overhead door.
  • In a lot of rentals the fridge is the size of a beer fridge and you’ll find it under the counter in the kitchen. You can get a ‘full sized’ fridge – which is roughly the size of two beer fridges stacked on top of one another. I would suggest limiting how much frozen food you buy at one time or getting yourself a separate freezer. 
  • Cookers can be gas or electric or you can just have a separate hob and oven.
  • Washers are front loading and are usually under the counter in the kitchen and they take forever to wash, unless you use quick cycle – that takes about 45 mins. You can buy washer/dryer combo which is an all in one machine that both washes and dries your clothes.
  • Dryers can either be vented or you can get a condenser dryer which doesn’t need to be vented but you will have to empty the tank which fills with water as it dries the clothes.  Most people here either hang their clothes outside on the rotary clothes line (when it isn’t raining) or you can hang them over the radiators if it’s too cold or wet outside.
  • The white goods (appliances) aren’t always included in the rental agreement so you may have to buy your own. You can purchase American Style appliances but they likely won’t fit in most homes.
  • Most bathrooms will have a plug cord for the light.  There are no plugins though most will be a dedicated socket to plug in an electric razor. The only source of heat is usually from an heated towel rail.  You will usually have separate taps for hot and cold water.
  • Most homes will have a loo, which is a separate room with a toilet and a sink.
  • We don’t have air conditioning in our homes.
  • A couch is a sofa or a settee.
  • A Canadian king size bed is a super king size in the UK.
  • Houses typically will not have basements.
  • You have to flick a switch on the plugins to turn them on and off.
  • The second floor of a house is called the first floor – the one at street level is the ground floor.
  • There are no screens on the windows (luckily there isn’t a problem with mosquitoes) and I have never seen a house with a screen door.
  • Most modern houses will have combi boilers which run off your central heating and will give you hot water on demand. For the most part you’ll find the boiler in one of the kitchen cupboards. You can also have an electric immersion tank which runs off a timer so you can decide how many times and for how long the hot water will be on. Immersion tanks are similar in size to a hot water tank in a Canadian house and will usually be located in a closet somewhere in the house.
  • Heating. We don’t have furnaces, it’s central heating from radiators that can either be gas, oil- fired or electric. You will find night storage heaters in a lot of older homes which are expensive and inefficient – your almost better to just run a small electric heater. All of the homes I have lived in had a door for each room (lounge, kitchen etc) which is nice because you can close them to conserve the heat.

                                                                                    Video courtesy of You Tube