It will probably come as little surprise that staycations have seen a huge growth in popularity in recent weeks due to the Coronavirus pandemic, or that prices of holidays might reflect that increase in demand. What may come as a shock, however, is the price people will need to fork out to rent an iconic British beach hut this summer during this current post-lockdown era.
Beach huts date back to Victorian times when changing into swimming costumes in public was frowned upon. The tiny beach-front properties metamorphized from a wheeled contraption called the bathing machine, an 18th-century invention that was used to transport bathers, including royalty such as King George III, into the sea to protect their modesty.
By the 1930s, transport links had grown and trips to beaches were more commonplace and attitudes towards entering the sea in one’s swimming costume in public changed to such an extent the bathing machines were no longer deemed an essential bathing tool.
However, in a reuse/recycle move years ahead of its time, resourceful beachgoers removed the wheels from the bathing machines to create the more familiar beach huts we know and love today, which were then used as changing and storage rooms when visiting the beach. In fact, beach-loving Queen Victoria is famed for having one built at her royal holiday residence Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight in the 1840s.
The appeal of holidaying abroad plummeted recently when strict quarantine restrictions were implemented around the globe as the Coronavirus Pandemic swept through country after beleaguered country.
When the UK’s lockdown restrictions were eventually eased, international travel restrictions still remained in place, leaving Brits scrabbling to book a UK destination for their summer hols.
Renting a Beach Hut
This surge in demand for UK holiday lets has propelled the price of renting a beach hut to levels one might expect to pay for renting a property in some the Capital’s priciest boroughs.
Indeed, the research found that the south coast’s most expensive beach hut rental hotspot this summer was Mudeford in Dorset with prices averaging an eye-watering £3,860 a month. This means renting a beach hut in Mudeford is actually more expensive than the average monthly rent in some of London’s most expensive boroughs including Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Camden!
The next priciest area to rent a beach hut on the south coast is Whitstable in Kent, where the average beach hut rental cost has risen 4.1 per cent since last year to £1,232 per month. When compared to the regular rental market, Whitstable beach huts sit between Runnymeade (£1236pm) and Woking (£1228pm) in terms of the monthly rental cost.
Next up in the beach hut rental price hotspots came Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset. Despite being the pinnacle of the regular coastal property market, the cost of renting a beach hut in Dorset’s Sandbanks is only the third most expensive costing a modest £948 per month; this figure is up 3 per cent on the previous year.
While Southwold in Suffolk (£832) and Bournemouth in Dorset (£752) rank as the fourth and fifth least expensive areas to rent a beach hut on the south coast in terms of monthly rental costs, they have seen the most significant annual increases in rental prices of 5.6 and 4.4 per cent respectively.
Overall, the cost of renting a beach hut across five of the most sought-after coastal locations on the south coast (namely Mudeford, Whitstable, Sandbanks, Southwold and Bournemouth) will set holidayers back an average of £1,525 a month. This is 2.6 per cent more expensive than last year and is comparable to the average monthly rents in the London boroughs of Ealing and Brent costing £1569 and £1502 respectively.
Buying a Beach Hut
While the research above from lettings management platform Howsy, revealed that the cost of renting a beach hut in the most sought after coastal locations could set you back more than the average cost of renting a London pad, further research from estate agent comparison site GetAgent.co.uk looked at the price to buy a beach hut. GetAgent discovered that the average beach hut will set buyers back £36,688 based on current ‘for sale’ stock. This means, in general, the price to buy a beach hut is more affordable than the average UK property. However, there are some exceptions; GetAgent’s research also found a few locations where a beach hut will set you back more than the average house price.
As with the beach hut rental market, Dorset tops the table for the most expensive beach hut purchase location, with an average beach hut costing £92,136 – that’s more than the average house price in Burnley, Lancashire!
There is even a beach hut currently listed for sale in a popular, but unspoilt, area of North Beach in Swanage on the Jurassic coastline in Dorset that has an asking price of £300,000! It is huge though and boasts potential uses as “a family beach hut, summer rentals or (as it has previously been used for) a takeaway cafe and beach shop”.
East Sussex ranks as the second most expensive spot to buy a beach hut on the south coast of England, with average prices sitting at £29,563. East Sussex is followed by Essex (£18,568), Hampshire (£25,000), the Isle of Wight (£17,500), Kent (£22,500) and then Suffolk (£13,500).
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for property investors, the research found that West Sussex currently offers the best beach hut bargain-buys with the average price costing just £10,500.
Founder and CEO of Howsy, Calum Brannan, commented: “It would seem as though beach huts offer the solution to a buy-to-let sector that has been battered by a string of government changes to tax relief and stamp duty. While the cost of acquiring a beach hut is generally far lower than the regular market, the astronomical rents secured on them will be resulting in some very favourable yields indeed.
Of course, seasonal factors mostly limit the rental income available, but they do make a very hands-off investment indeed and could provide the perfect toe-dip into the buy-to-let sea for a first-time investor.”
Average rental figures sourced from the Office for National Statistics Beach Hut prices sourced from www.beach-huts.co.uk