Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Second Homers

I heard a short report on the local news the other day, and then forgot about it. But I woke up this morning thinking about it seriously.

Norfolk is a county with a large coastline. Not that long ago, coastal housing here was some of the cheapest available in the southern half of Britain. That attracted well-off buyers from London and its suburbs. Less than a three-hour drive from the capital, and you get countryside, huge sandy beaches, and the chance of sea views from your back garden. So they came and bought property.

Lots of it.

But they didn’t live here. They used it at weekends, to get away from the city, or sent the family up here for the long school holidays. It was quaint. It had small shops, old buildings, traditional seaside towns, and quiet roads. Once it became widely known, house prices started to increase out of all proportion to local income and availability. By 2010, a house on the North Norfolk coast cost almost as much as one in North London.

And a beach hut fetched the same price as a small house in Beetley.

(The same applies to Suffolk by the way, which is even closer to london)

The inevitable happened, and local people could no longer afford to buy homes in the most desirable areas. They couldn’t rent them either, as the second-homers could charge a couple of thousand pounds a week to let them out when they didn’t need to use them.

Then those local shops started to cater for their new rich clientele. They began to stock Pate de Fois Gras, Artisan breads, Parma ham, fresh Parmesan, and designer fabrics to decorate their second homes in style. Before long, local people could no longer buy what they needed in the villages they had spent their lives in, and were having to travel into the central Norfolk market towns to get their weekly shop.

The pubs that they enjoyed a beer and a pie in started to change into classy bistros, and gastropubs. They had wine lists as extensive as any top London eatery, and sold exclusive bottled water at £3 a bottle. So the locals lost their social life too. Then the local economy started to depend on the whims and patronage of these part-time newcomers.

I know. Times change. Things change. Nothing stays the same. Get on with it.

Soak it up. Move on.

But as if that wasn’t bad enough for the impoverished counties in the East of England, along came Covid-19. The second homers knew what to do.

Leave London, and flock to their coastal hideaways, bringing the virus with them. In less than ten days, cases of reported infection in the whole of Norfolk have gone from just one, to twenty-five, with two people dying of the virus already. It is estimated that the numbers infected will be reported as more than fifty by the end of the month, with a corresponding death rate.

But it could be more.

However, on the bright side, the second homers and their families are getting some fresh air, as they await the delivery of luxury groceries.

90 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

      1. Yes! The wealthy are unknowingly spreading the virus. Today’s news here, the New Yorkers who are fleeing to their second homes are arriving in Massachusetts. Those huge signs above the highways are telling people driving into the state to quarantine themselves for 14 days. Apparently the police are driving around and looking for New York license plates. It is a huge problem here, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. The Massachusetts governor said today he didn’t want the elite to move to their mansions on Nantucket (island) – but they did anyway and the virus came with them. It’s happening with New York elites too. Such a shame.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazingly, the same thing is happening in Viet Nam. A friend’s daughter teaches there and they had managed to contain the spread. Apparently the word got out and they got flooded with Europeans looking for a “safe” country to go to, bringing the virus with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I live 40 miles east of San Francisco which the wealthy has destroyed. They visit our little island on a weekend falling in love with our culture. They decide to purchase a second house because the cost was very reasonable compared to where they live. In reality, they don’t understand they bought into a way of life, our culture, so they begin to bring in the same way of life they thought they wanted to escape from. They are destroying our island, soon our home will be worth an unbelievable amount. We are thinking of selling only to get away from them, it is saddening, this is our home, not an investment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear that, Jaques. It seems this is a problem in most western nations. The selfish rich continuing to ruin local cultures and environments. Perhaps the relevant local authorities need to ban the buying of second homes, and make a residential qualification for house purchase?
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. Something like that in the small coastal town here, where I work. I can not afford all of the fancy shops and restaurants. anymore and rarely go downtown! The main street was such fun when I was a kid. Oh well! They sure aren’t selling hot dogs now! Nor popcorn! I am sorry about the loss due to the corona virus. Things here are crazy, but they are everywhere. I have never seen such a time and am observing carefully. Best wishes to you and your wife and of course dear Ollie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We’ve had the same type of issues here in Spain, Pete, although the government are putting strict controls into place and only allowing through people who have genuine business to be travelling (either working to provide supplies or emergency services). But yes, when they closed schools before the state of emergency was implemented, a lot of people left to their second homes, not thinking of the risks to others. It’s a shame when so many people are making a big effort to contain this thing. Keep safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have nothing like the same retrictions seen in Spain and Italy here. Boris left it all far too late, probably to allow his cronies to escape, and to profiteer on falling shares, and selling short on the pound. Rich people always get richer in a disaster. The poor people just die.
      We need a revolution, but that’s not going to happen when everyone is glued to Facebook.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another sign of inequality…local people can’t get the test, but somehow celebrities and congressmen keep announcing they have it after getting a test…like in less than a week since all this started, not only do they have tests but they have results. It’s take a week or more for other people to get either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I noticed that. We had members of parliament confirmed to be positive for Covid-19 weeks ago, at the same time the authorities were claiming that test kits were ‘unavailable’. One rule for the rich…

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  7. It’s happening here too. The mayors and state officials are actually ordering tourists to go back home and get out of their towns. We live in Pennsylvania in the US and some people just reported that their New Jersey “neighbors” who just come up on weekends just came up right after their state was shut down. Like when they weren’t supposed to be traveling. *eye roll*.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a world-wide problem in affluent countries, I know. So typical of rich people to show no concern for communities in other areas.
      Thanks, Lisa. You take care, and good luck to you and your family.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is the same in many parts of the UK, and other countries too. Wealthy people using economically deprived areas with total disregard for the local population.
      Thanks, Cindy.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  8. And those who haven’t gone to Norfolk have come down to Cornwall. 😕

    Since London has the most infections it is somewhat worrying that they might bring it here. So far we have only 20 confirmed cases out of a local population of 565,968, and 5 deaths, but that population will increase substantially if the second home owners arrive (and I am sure some people are still renting out their holiday cottages) I wonder what that figure will be like in a week’s time? I really hope that the 5 million visitors that descend on Cornwall in the summer don’t come!

    The other problem of course is the extra strain on the supermarkets and if any of them fall ill whilst down here, the pressure will land on the local NHS. I suspect we have very few ICU beds in Cornwall. Only one major hospital in Truro.

    People really should stay in their main homes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they are in the SW, Scotland, Wales, all over. Foolish enough to believe that ‘fresh air’ will save them. Travel should have been forcibly restricted. But most second homers are rich, probably Tory, and were ‘tipped off’, so rumour has it. How they expect to survive any ‘post apocalyptic scenario’ is beyond me. Their well-stocked houses will be prime targets. Serve them right! 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The situation is happening in Ontario, Canada. People are starting to flock to their cottages and the local economy is struggling. The shops are not stocked for the influx of unexpected customers since the season is still a couple of months away. Locals are a bit worried and, well, feel a bit invaded.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pete, some of the least-desirable neighborhoods in the US have had the same issue: part of Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York were gentrified, adding hipster cafes and high-end bistros while forcing out smaller shops and restaurants that took care of a neighborhood….it’s a big issue here and frustrating as well, because we have so much room to repair and fix what we have already built!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There was an article on the news yesterday – apparently second homers and people with motor homes are flocking to the Highlands. However, they have been told not to, but I can’t see them taking any notice…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. (1) Here in Vegas, one thing you can count on is cans of sardines. The cans are grocery stores, and the sardines are shoppers. Thanks to compressed hours of operations, the stores are heavily crowded. So much for social distancing!
    (2) Woohoo! I was lucky on Friday. I found a box of spaghetti hidden in the back of the bottom shelf! Too bad there’s no sauce in the store…
    (3) It’s hard to limit the purchase of water to one plastic jug when there is NO water on the shelf!
    (4) Londoners flock to Norfolk. Angelenos flock to Nevada. Suddenly, everyone loves the N word…
    (5) “…North Norfolk coast cost…” I need to check my eyesight. I’m seeing double!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t agree with people having second homes when some people don’t have first homes. I went to Southwold two years ago and half the town was given over to holiday rentals. I felt really bad

        Liked by 1 person

  13. This is happening in Greece, too, where people flock to their summer homes on the islands. They bring in the virus to places which didn’t have it, and where there are no hospitals. I also read that in the Hamptons private jets are pouring in, and the locals are fuming because there are no adequate medical facilities etc.
    Regarding second homers, this is the case in many of the nice places in this world. Venetians cannot afford to live in Venice any more, and all fishermen have been driven out of St Tropez, etc. Sad, and the result of all this globalization, constant growth, greed etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Similar things have happened in my little mountain community. Farmland was bought up and an International Equestrian facility built. All with the promise of revenue riches for all. Older generations cannot pay their taxes now, they increased 300%. And all those revenue generating facilities were built on the equestrian property, not in the local towns. At least here, the rich did not come and build second homes. I hope you and Julie stay well, Pete. These are trying times.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s the “me” generation. Our beaches have been full of party goers. Mostly the rich kids. Thousands of them, with no thought to what they are bringing home from those gatherings. Pardon me, but since I am in self-imposed isolation, I need to check my supplies. Can’t make it without enough Spaghetti fixings for several weeks!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pete the same here as well……we use to get land reasonable……hell my house was 19,000 when I bought it and it is now worth 90,000 and I have done very little upgrade….I agree with you….they need to go back and leave me to my dog walks and fresh air in the garden. chuq

    Liked by 3 people

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