Emily and I have found an amazing way to dream in color…and our dreams are presented in high-definition for all the world to see. If you want to share in one of our many dreams, you should look for the BBC television show Escape to the Country on your favorite streaming device.
Much better than The Great British Bake Off but just as English, Escape to the Country is the most pleasant property hunting television series you may ever watch.
The premise is simple, and the format is relatively the same for every show. Each episode begins with the host (there are a handful of them, so that makes it even more charming) teasing us with a location quiz which they answer later in the show. After we know who is going to host the episode, we then meet the prospective buyers, find out what their living arrangements are currently, then find out which county in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland) they want to escape to and how much they can afford to spend to completely change their lives.
The host meets with the prospective buyers to go over their wish list, what they want, what they need, if they are willing to compromise, and finally, what their top budget is for this property search. Once we have all that information, the buyers are then taken to three different properties (occasionally four) with the hope that one of them will be their new country home.
The first properties that are shown have elements from the buyers’ wish list, but they may not tick all the boxes (as they say in the show), or the property is at the top end of the budget, occasionally even over their budget, so it makes the buyers begin to think about what is really important to them or rearrange some of their wants versus needs.
With the final property, known as the mystery house, the host throws caution to the wind and shows the prospective buyers something they may not have considered, wanted, or thought was possible with their wish list and budget.
What makes Escape to the Country so charming, besides the English politeness and civility, are the non-property hunting aspects of the show. The host will arrange for the prospective buyers to visit a local business, charity, or activity in the area they are looking to settle down in to ask questions and learn about a specific aspect of the village, town, or county. For example, if the buyers are looking forward to being more self-sufficient when they find a place, they might meet with a local forager to learn about the region’s edible plants and the ones to avoid. If they want to start their own business, the host would arrange to have the visit a similar business in a nearby county to give them a dose of reality to make them understand how much time and effort it may require of them (it seems a lot of people want to try to be glamping hosts if they get a spot of land).
Just as the buyers have their outing, so too does the host. The host will routinely visit a local business, charity, or conservation effort and find out the details of the product, the service, or the conviction for which they are working towards. These outings are always fun and educational, and it gives the host a chance to gets their hands dirty supporting a local cause.
Escape to the Country gives us a few twists not found on the typical American property hunting television show. The potential buyers are full of affirmations and always find ways to speak about the positive aspects of the property, even if they do not care for it. The hosts can be a bit cheeky at times, but they are never rude or short with their clients.
The biggest difference from any other property or house hunting show I have ever seen on television is that on Escape to the Country the show ends without people buying a home. You read that correctly, the buyers do not make a purchase during the regular show. They view all the properties, then sit down with the host at the end of the show and discuss the properties they looked at, they talk about their favorite or favorites, then they may talk about going back for a second viewing. Other times, when they could not find the right home, the buyers explore the idea of changing items on their wish list, or possibly even revisiting their budget. On rare occasions the buyers find a home they absolutely fall in love with and decide to put an offer on it. Usually at the close of the show, there will be a voice over from the host giving an update on the buyers and their progress on making their dreams come true.
Most of the homes we have seen on the show have been wonderful and charming, from chocolate-box cottages, to restored churches, to barn conversions. I still find it fascinating to hear them talk nonchalantly about a property dating back to the 15th century.
Towns, villages, hamlets and the rural English countryside are the real winners in this show. The picturesque rolling hills, the stone walls, and ancient forests, the green fields with sheep and cows, the national parks, and of course the areas of outstanding natural beauty are displayed in all their glory throughout the series.
If you need to escape reality, grab a cuppa and give Escape to the Country a try sometime. Your troubles will disappear as you live vicariously through others looking to make extreme changes in their lives. I believe Netflix has a few episodes in a compilation of sorts, but we like to stream the eighteen seasons through our fire stick.