Priced out of Whitstable

Flats and houses are springing up in town – but none for me

It seems my time in Whitstable may be coming to an end. I can no longer afford to live here.

I first moved to the town in 1984. It was an undiscovered little fishing village back then. I spent the first six months swimming in the sea and eating sea food.

It was the same year as the Miner’s strike. My first public appearance would have been standing outside the Co-op collecting money for the NUM. That’s more than 35 years ago now.

I’ve lived in every part of the town. I won’t list all the roads as it would probably take up most of this column. I’ve always rented.

For a number of years I lived in Maugham Court, in a flat belonging to a friend, which I sublet to a series of tenants. I made a number of friends in the process. More recently I’ve been sharing with friends in Essex Street, but they’ve decided to move. They’ve given me a year.

I’ve been looking at property. I have some money which Dad left me. Unfortunately it’s not enough to buy anything around here.

I’m too old to get a mortgage. I retired last year and all I have is my state pension.

I went to look at a Park Home: literally the only place within my price range. It was a glorified shed, 36′ by 10′: one bedroom, kitchen, living room, shower room, plus a small yard, selling for £65,000.

I could have handled that. It’s in a beautiful spot, by the woods, with a friendly community, but I’d be paying ground rent, plus bills, which would leave me with barely enough to live on.

How can this be? The building dates from 1978, is made of wood, and can’t have more than 20 years life left in it. It would need completely refurbishing.

I’d be watching my savings depreciate while waiting for my death. Once in it I wouldn’t be able to move out. If I didn’t like it I’d be trapped.

I could buy a town centre flat almost anywhere North of Coventry. I saw a one bedroomed flat in Arbroath, Scotland, a fishing village near Dundee, on an estuary, not unlike Whitstable. It was newly refurbished, with double glazing and central heating, within a few hundred yards of the harbour and the sea, for £50,000. Here in Whitstable you’d be lucky to buy a beach hut for that.

I’ve given my life to this town. I brought my son up here, made many life long friends here, saw jobs come and go. I was a postman for 15 years. I know every inch of it: every street, every patch of ground, every alley, every footpath.

Meanwhile there are flats and houses springing up in every corner of the town. None of them are for me.

It seems a crime that I can’t see out my last days here.

Such is the nature of the “free” market. Free only to those who can afford it.

*************

Whitstable author C.J. Stone priced out of town’s rental market:

From The Whitstable Gazette 28/11/19

The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.

Send letters to: The Editor, Room B119 Canterbury College, New Dover Road, Canterbury CT1 3AJ

Phone: 01227 475985

fax: 01227 762415

email: kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk

6 thoughts on “Priced out of Whitstable

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  1. A sorry state of affairs indeed, and I’m very sad to read this, although at that the same time, I am one of many people who are.grateful to you for talking about these things. I’ve recently moved to Dover: much more fairly priced, and still very Kentish and I like it., would this be a closer possibility for you?

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  2. When I moved to Whitstable in 1979 the prices were quite reasonable. As you mentioned, Whitstable was a bit rundown, largely undiscovered, seaside town. I have lived in Maugham Court too since 1995 when I bought my flat for £45000. Admittedly the prices are higher here than Herne Bay but no more expensive than Canterbury. If you look nearer to London the prices become eye watering and London prices are beyond belief. The prices in the UK as a whole are the problem. We visited some friends near Hanover in Germany, this summer. They have a beautiful large 2 bedroom flat, a big balcony, a basement storage room (bigger than my lounge) and a garage. All for the princely sum of £130000! I guess the land is cheaper there because they have more of it!

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