You may have noticed that beach huts have been all the rage across the country, with sunbathers willing to do almost anything to secure leases and some sellers demanding up to £600,000 for tiny structures.
Just this week, owners of sought-after beach huts on Essex seafronts have been warned by the council to stop making extravagant additions to their huts, like balconies and patios, in a bid to rent them out for expensive events and parties.
What remains clear is that beach huts are a hot property in the UK. Research from Hoo, the hotel room supply platform, shows the average price of a beach shack soared 41% in the past year, fueled by the popularity of stays during lockdowns. This year a hut will cost an average of £27,500.
Sandy Retreat: Beach huts on the dunes near Christchurch in Dorset. After the lockdown stay boom, huts are a hot property, costing an average of £27,500
Now consider returns. The average cost of renting a beach hut is £1,190 per month, or around £40 per day. To put that into perspective, the daily rate for a hotel is just £67, rising to £112 in London.
Jodie Granger-Brown runs a lucrative business – The Happy Huts – managing the rentals of 15 other beach hut owners and owning two huts herself in Wells-next-the-Sea, North Norfolk.
For £60 a day, Jodie ensures her huts have everything a family needs for a traditional British day at the beach, including outdoor chairs, windbreaks, beach toys and a cooker gas to make a cup of tea.
“I bought my first hut 15 years ago for £50,000 and today it would sell for £90,000,” says Jodie.
“Demand has exploded in the last year and I don’t see it waning. My huts are almost fully booked for the season. A beach hut is the perfect way to counter the UK weather.
Sade Chapman, 32, rents out one of Jodie’s cabins every three months or so to entertain her two children, Emily, three, and Jack, six.
“It’s great to have a base where we can make drinks and a simple meal,” says Sadie. “And it saves us from having to haul all our gear to the beach.”
The price of beach huts varies alarmingly around our coastline, but without a doubt our St Tropez is Mudeford in Dorset.
Mudeford Spit, to use its full name, is a long sandbar separating the sea from the inland waters of Christchurch Harbour.
To get the full Robinson Crusoe experience, residents are allowed, for eight months of the year, to sleep in the huts overnight to the sound of the waves – hence their changing hands for eye-watering sums.
This spring the going rate was around £350,000 and a hut sold for £570,000. However, they rent for £126 a night.
Big business: a row of beach huts at Whitby in Yorkshire. Across the UK, the tiny structures rent for an average of £40 a day
Huts at The Spit sell out as soon as they hit the market, but a six-minute drive from Avon Beach, prices are significantly lower. “Position is everything,” says Gareth Bowden of Estate Agents, Winkworth. ‘
“At Avon Beach we are selling a front row cabin with views of the Isle of Wight, for £100,000. Second row huts sell for £70,000 and the back row one costs around £68,000.
Beach huts at Avon Beach rent for around £30 per day.
The five beach cabins at Branscombe, Devon, are just as well placed as those at Mudeford Spit. Located below the cliffs, directly on the beach itself, these cedar log cabins feature pine interiors with living rooms opening onto balconies overlooking the sea.
Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages to living so close to nature: during the storms of 2014, the huts suffered considerable damage. Still, that didn’t deter someone last month from hitting the £275,000 asking price for one.
Beach huts are also downright trendy these days. They pop up regularly on social media and ‘seaside chic’ is featured in glossy lifestyle magazines such as Coast.
Vicky Gunn of Millie’s Beach Huts in Walton-on-the-Naze even offers a styling tip on how to furnish a beach hut and it’s all a far cry from plastic dish bowls, splinters on the floor and the smell fish paste sandwiches.
Craftsman James Wood has a business that makes new beach huts. Beech worktops and oiled floors are a must.
Yet owning a beach shack as an investment isn’t just about handing over the keys and collecting the cash. There may be service charges or ground rent.
In Branscombe this works out to £1,530 a year. In addition, the huts need continuous maintenance.
“Sea air and winter storms are a real problem,” says Jodie. “The humidity warps the doors. I have to paint them every year and fix all the bolts that rust so easily.
Ultimately, owning a beach cabana is as much a labor of love as it is an investment. “There’s something refreshing about spending a day in the beach hut facing the sea,” says Sade, a pediatric nurse. “You get this feeling of space that’s so calming.”
On the market… by the sea
Dorset: This two bedroom detached cottage is within walking distance of Mudeford Quay and opposite Stanpit Nature Reserve. Haywardfox.co.uk, 01425 545014. £550,000
Devon: There are three bedrooms in this semi-detached house in Branscombe on the Jurassic Coast. The property is in need of renovation and can only be sold to locals. Gth.net, 01404 46222. £300,000
Essex: A brick house in the heart of Walton-On-The-Naze, it has four bedrooms and 12 solar panels. It is near the sea front and train services to London. Rouse-estates.co.uk, 01255 767047. £410,000