The perfect location? Stunning homes around the world
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The perfect location? Stunning homes around the world

While choosing a location for a new home can be tricky, it’s usually the case that we look for similar traits in a location – plenty of local amenities, a good  community, a low crime rate; however what we might not expect is a settlement nestled in some of the most idyllic and distant areas of the world. From volcanic craters to an Italian fjord, here are some of the craziest towns and settements on the planet.

 

Aogashima, Philippine Sea

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Incredibly, this settlement in the middle of the Phililippine Sea is located in the middle of a volcanic crater. It might be enough to put you or me on edge, knowing that your home is situated on top of something that, in it’s prime was an explosive natural entity, however the volcano has been dormant since the 1700’s.

Monemvasia, Greece

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Hidden away from view on the reverse of a huge rock face in Laconia, Greece is the idyllic oceanside settlement of Monemvasia.

Following an earthquake in the Greek region almost 2000 years ago, the island was seperated from the Greek mainland, resulting in the only access point to the residence being via a small access walkway. Hidden from the sight of those on the coastline of Greece, residants of the island are able to enjoy breathtaking views of the Palaia Monemvasia bay.

Phugtal Monastery, India

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 13.20.15Hidden away in the mouth of a cave might not be a location you think is ideal for a settlement, however the small village perched on this cliff face in India has housed residents since the 1800’s.

Phugtal Monastery, which is, for the most part contructed using mud and timber can be found in t in the south-eastern Zanskar region in the Ladakh district of India.

Undredal, Norway 

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We might have the beautiful views of the Lake District, but this water side dwelling in Norway gives a totally new meaning to the phrase ‘home by the water’.

Furore, Italy 

7502630774_e3bf7548c9_bRounding off our list is the quaint village of Furore, tucked away in a fjord located in south-western Italy – a settlement which is practically hidden from travellers. With cliff side walks, small yet vibrantly coloured homes and a beach and perfectly blue water located right on the doorstep, this looks like the perfect retreat.

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An easy breakdown of the home buying process
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An easy breakdown of the home buying process

The house buying process can be a complicated and hugely time consuming process. If you’re juggling it with your full time jobs and family commitments, it’s not hard to see why people begin to feel the stress. Whilst we can’t lighten the workload for you, we can give you a helping hand when it comes to understanding the whole process. If the strain of starting the home moving process is starting to feel like a burden, here is our simplification of the home buying process.

Get prepared

House buying is a big life decision, so it’s important that you don’t head into the process without doing a reasonable amount of research. Getting an understanding and background knowledge will be a big aid, and make the process of home buying much more straight forward. As with most things, having a greater understanding will allow you to make a more informed decision further down the line.

Find your mortgage

A crucial factor when buying a home is to ensure you get a mortgage that is well suited to your financial situation. Again, this will involve copious amounts of research and homework. If you’re unsure what types of mortgage are out there, it’s worth looking into, and getting the facts straight in your head before going out into the market.

Place your offer

Once you’ve got your mortgage lined up, viewed homes and are now ready to proceed, it’s time to put in an offer on what you want to be your new home. If you’re a first time buyer, you’ll have less constraints, as you won’t have an existing home up for sale slowing you down. Usually, you’ll put your offer in through your estate agent, as they will help your deal go through as smoothly as possible.

Source your solicitor

Now for the legal aspects, you’ll need to get yourself sorted with a solicitor, in order to handle the paperwork surrounding your impending move. It’s important that the finer details of your move are scrutinised ahead of signing your papers, so having a trusted solicitor on your side is an important addition.

Get it surveyed

Another crucial step is to ensure that you arrange for a survey of your new property to be carried out, to make sure that your new home has been thoroughly checked over and is valued at the price you’re paying. There are a number of different surveys and reports which can be carried out, from the cheaper condition report to the most comprehensive option of a structural survey.

Exchange contracts

Once your solicitor and surveyor are happy, it’s time to sign the contract and move ahead with the purchase. It’s at this point you’ll have to start the expenditure, as you’ll usually have to lay down 10% of the total price as a deposit. It’s important to know that once you put down the deposit, you’re committed to the sale, meaning that if circumstances change any you need to pull out of the deal, you’ll likely lose your deposit.

Finalise it

Upon completion, the property finally becomes yours. It’s time for you to get your keys and the deed to your first home. The completion of your purchase means you’ll now have bills to pay; the 90% of your home which you’re yet to pay for is transferred from your mortgage lender to your legal representative, and then on to the seller’s representative.

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Garden preparations for spring
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Garden preparations for spring

Summer is almost upon us (or at least it feels that way after the few weeks of nice weather we’ve just enjoyed) and although we can’t always guarantee undisturbed weekends of sunshine, it’s worth ensuring your garden is ready for those summer hot spells. Barbecues and a drinks make for the perfect weekend entertainment, especially when hosting guests. If you plan on playing the perfect garden part host over the coming weekends and for the rest of the summer, here are our top tips on making sure you’re all set.

Blast it clean

Over the winter, dirt, mould and grime become embedded into your pavements, patios and areas of decking. When the summer arrives however, you want your ourdoor areas to look spotless. Whilst giving the floor a good scrub might seem laborious, you can save a lot of time and effort with a pressure washer. Karcher offer a range of great options when it comes to pressure washing, so make sure you take a look and invest in something that can be used year after year. Blast away at the dirt and leave your surfaces looking as good as new, and ready to show off to your party guests.

Upgrade the grill

Summer and spending time in the garden just wouldn’t be the same without a good old barbecue of burgers, sausages chicken and whatever other meat you want to take on. If you’re planning a summer of outdoor dinner parties and hosting, you don’t want the embarrassment of bringing out the disposables to cook. A barbecue is an investment, and if chosen wisely, can be utilised for years. Whether you’re a fan of the genuine built structure charcoal article, or something portable and gas powered, make sure you have the tools to get the job done when cooking for a large number.

Set the right tone with furniture

Garden furniture differs greatly to indoor furniture, that goes without saying. More hard wearing and expected to survive the summer elements for months on end, durability is just as important as aesthetics with outdoor furniture. When it comes to patio tables, make an informed choice to ensure it fits in with the other aesthetics of your garden. Some gardens look more at home with a wooden table and chairs, whilst others enjoy the modern feel of something made from metal and glass.

Light it up

When the sun sets and the evening hits, it shouldn’t signify a definitive end to your time outdoors. As darkness drops, it might seem logical to shift the party indoors, however if you get your outdoor lighting right, you can light up your hosting area and keep the party going outside for as long as the warmth lingers. Along with the primary purpose of allowing you to see gathering areas and people, more decorative lighting, such as Candles and lights can draw the gaze to unexpected places and create a magical atmosphere in your garden. If you have an area of the garden you’re particularly proud of, such as a flowered bed or DIY pergola, lighting is a great way to drive attention to the spot. Another innovative use of decorative lighting is through using tiki torches around the perimeter of your garden, they’re exotic and whilst they don’t provide a huge amount of light, they do add a real ambiance to the area.

 

What are your favourite summer garden additions? If you have any particular favourites you wheel out when entertaining outdoors, we’d love to hear them. Drop a comment below with your tips and advice!

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A beginners guide to a clever garden design
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A beginners guide to a clever garden design

Summer is around the corner, however after a winter of abandonment, you might find that your garden looks more like a farmyard than a relaxing spot for you to enjoy the company of guests.  If you need to get your garden into shape this spring, here are some of our landscaping cheats.

How To Make A Garden Seem Bigger

If your garden is on the small side, then you may feel limited in what you can do; however with a few little tricks you can make your garden seem bigger than it actually is. Trimming and hedging those bushy borders or intrusive trees can really help to free up some much needed space, whilst retaining height and texture with foliage and trees can help you to keep your privacy from neighbours. Contrasting warm-coloured flowers in the middle of your garden with cool colours on the border can help to give your garden a real feeling of depth, while clever garden lighting and reflective ornaments can also play their part.

How To Create a Mediterranean Style Garden

Mediterranean gardens are often designed to evoke a real holiday-feel, where a warmer climate and sun-kissed colours are utilised. If you’re looking to incorporate a feel of Europe in your garden, features such as large seating areas and terracotta potted plants take precedent over grassy lawns, which are often hard to maintain in the heat of the Mediterranean sun. Paving stones and pebbles should be sprinkled around large plants pots, while ceramic tiles should be used to add a Moorish colour style. Walls should be whitewashed or painted in an earthy, sandy tone before vine-covered terraces are erected for a shaded dining spot. If space permits there should be different dining areas for a variety of outdoor living, with al fresco dining terraces complimented with simple benches and shaded spots.

How To Create a Cottage-Style Garden

Traditional cottage gardens are full of flowering plants and lush foliage which are planted in a purposefully informal style. Aiming to create a romantic and natural woodland feel, you can have free reign to plant all of your favourite flowers. There are no strict planting patterns or colours or scents to use, as texture, depth and variety are the king of the cottage style. Beautiful flowering archways and stepping stone pathways can lead to hidden garden areas, where a vintage hammock or tree swing are perfect for watching the birds fly overhead. Rustic water buckets and troughs are also great for an added character-feel and can often be found for a good price in an old junk yard or online.

How To Create a Chic and Sleek Garden Retreat

In contrast to a wild cottage garden, a sleek and chic retreat needs clean lines, formal plant designs and minimalist trees. Here, fussy borders are a thing of the past, as are fruit trees, unruly lawns and overgrown hedges. Lawns should be kept to a minimum and must be neat and weed-free at all times, while large flowerbeds should be replaced with sleek rockeries and simple water features. Patios and decking are often used to create a contemporary design, along with cool colours and sculpted trees.

How To Attract Wildlife

You don’t need to have masses of flowers and plants to attract birds and other wildlife into your garden. Even just a few carefully potted plants and hanging baskets can attract birds, insects and beetles into your garden with ease. Plants which offer nectar, pollen, seeds or sap should be prioritised first as these are important food sources for our feathered, furry and flying friends. Digging a pond or installing a bird bath or water feature can also help to create a welcoming habitat for the friends of the natural world.

 

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The Pursuit of Happiness: Searching for the perfect first home.
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The Pursuit of Happiness: Searching for the perfect first home.

House hunting is a tough game. House after house, viewing after viewing and offer after offer – it can easily become a mind numbing cycle.

As a first time buyer, the pursuit of your perfect home can be daunting. There are tonnes of ‘how to’s’ and ‘top tip’s’ flooding the internet, but not to worry, we can lead you through the maze!

The first thing that needs to be said is try not to get too bogged down on looks. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, ‘looks are deceiving’, ‘beauty is only skin deep’, we’ve all heard the sayings, but it’s true. Houses can be hiding secrets behind those perfectly painted walls; mould, damp… the list goes on. Falling in love with a home too soon can be a bad idea too; not only could the estate agent get a whiff and make you pay for it, but you could be setting yourself on the path for heartbreak. Ultimately, they do say location is everything. It’s always worth really grilling the estate agent to make sure you’re in the safe zone.

Speaking about the safe zone, have you really researched the area fully? Are crime rates low? A great website for this is crime-statistics.co.uk, it only takes a few moments to pop in the postcode and find out exactly what the surrounding areas are like. Asking neighbours or visiting at a different time of day is always a good idea to get a true feel for the area. Have you thought about what’s nearby? Trekking a mile for a pint of milk isn’t exactly ideal. Go for a look around to get a feel for the area, you might just find the perfect reason to stay!

So what if it’s a bit of a ‘fixer-upper’? No problem, just make sure don’t get yourself in too deep. If you’re a dab hand at DIY and have some cash left in your budget, turning that house into a home yourself is a great idea. But if you’re no good at this, a new build could be right up your street! This is where buying a newly built property can be a good idea.

So whether this is your first buy or not, just enjoy the hunt. It’s about the pursuit of a happy home after all.

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5 ways to bring Morocco to your home
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5 ways to bring Morocco to your home

If luxury and opulence are two words that are appealing to you then why not update your home with a few easy ideas inspired by the streets of Morocco.  Moroccan souks are energetic, lively places that are bursting with vibrant handmade fabrics and intricate lighting and decorations.

Lighting

Playing around with lighting throughout your home is a sure fire way of being able to create a relaxing atmosphere. By incorporating colourful Moroccan lamps to your home, you can decorate your home while brightening up the place. Another way of adding soft lighting is by placing intricate candle holders around the house to help you wind down in the evenings. Using scented candles is a definite plus for turning your house into your home.

Fabrics

If comfort and luxury is what you want in your home then soft furnishing is a good way to start. Why not try stacking mismatch cushions in the living and bedroom or using colourful scarves to decorate the walls?  Experimenting with different textures such as silks throws and velvets can help to add to a luxurious feel. Pouffes are also an easy way of incorporating a Moroccan theme at home and are also a favourite with the kids. If you prefer a more minimalistic approach then having simple décor with a Persian rug could be the way for you.

Mirrors

Adding metallic framed mirrors work well to give an illusion of a bigger and brighter space. Silver and copper frames with engraved patterns help to add to an ethnic vibe. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try mirrored furniture that while further enhance any soft lighting that you’ve incorporated.

Metals

Metals such as copper and silverwork are commonly seen in Moroccan décor and kitchenware. Tea glasses, candles holders and silver plates are an easy way to incorporate this. Charity shops are a good place to hunt for silverware for cheap while bringing something unique to your home.

Colour Schemes

Bright colours are at the forefront of Moroccan themed décor where rich purples, oranges and metallic are used in fabrics for a luxurious effect. For a fresh modern twist for summer, you could use bright and neutral colours while integrating Moroccan references in artwork or furnishing.

Try the trend for yourself and see which Moroccan trends you can bring into your home this springtime.

Image credit: Jon Olav Eikenes: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonolave/

 

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Top five apps to ease your house move
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Top five apps to ease your house move

When you’re moving home, it’s often the case that you’ll take any help and assistance you can get. Whether you’re doing it all for the very first time, or are becoming a seasoned pro of the house moving game, these smartphone apps are the perfect assistance in what is undoubtedly going to be one of the busiest periods of your life.

 

Rightmove

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If you’re at the very beginning of your house search, then it’s well worth downloading the Rightmove app. As the UK’s most popular property listing website, Rightmove boasts more than 49,000 commercial properties and homes for sale and to rent across the entire UK.

With quick and easy phone access, you can now easily search for your dream place, whilst tightly filtering your results to keep the homes you search within your price range and ideal location. What’s more, you can customise your search to only show results within a certain size bracket, neighbourhood, public transport route, postcode and more.

 

Crime Map: England and Wales

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It’s one of the defining factors when it comes to searching for a property, so it’s well worth having this knowledge of the area in the palm of your hand. If you place high importance on the safety of an area, something which is especially important if you’re moving with a young family, then it’s worth checking out the crime statistics of an area prior to beginning your house search.

Using the UK Police database to show statistics for a wide range of neighbourhoods, the England anad Wales Crime Map keeps you informed on everything within an area, from small crimes of theft to more violent crime. It’s a quick and easy app to check, and definitely one that will help you get the destination of your new home right.

 

Mapumental

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Whilst not strictly speaking an app for your phone, or even for your tablet, Mapumental is a website that has mobile functionality, and adds huge value to anyone who is considering a home move. Ease of travel is one aspect that can have a huge impact on your everyday life – nobody enjoys hours sat in rush hour traffic every morning and evening, so utilising tools like this, allow you to calculate the traffic on your commuter route, as well as examine the length of time a journey would take on public transport.

The Mapumental site allows you to ou search for properties based on how long it takes to travel from your prospective new home, to a point of interest – be it work, the nearest cinema or your favourite restaurants. However, instead of searching by distance, you search based on the time it will take for you to reach your destination of choice.

 

Around Me

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Whilst a quick move to the other side of town will likely not provide too much upheaval in your everyday life, moving to an entirely new city, region or even country can leave you starting from scratch, especially when it comes to getting to know your new neighbourhood. Whether you’re looking for the nearest independent café to grab your morning coffee at before the commute to work, or searching for your new favourite restaurant, Around Me provides a handy guide to your new local area.

 

UKMortgages

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Months before you’re faced with your hectic moving schedule, you’ll have another stressful period to navigate – the financial aspect of your move. Money and mortgages can easily confuse people, and if you haven’t been through the process before, it can be a wholly stressful time. To get the ball rolling when it comes to sourcing your mortgage provider, it’s well worth taking a look at the UKMortgages app. With regularly updated financial information, and the convenience of having updates sent straight to the palm of your hand, utilising this sartphone app will let you get a feel of what is available for you in the market, when it comes to your financial future.

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Home For Sale
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5 Ways to Prepare Your Home For Sale

When selling your home, it’s tough to know what compels buyers to take a liking to your house, let alone love your house enough to place a bid. Is it something as simple as the feel given off by your colour scheme,  the exterior vision your home exudes,  or even the raw potential of the space as a whole.  It’s impossible to know what will wow a buyer, especially when people have such different and ranging tastes. There are a few questions that creep into the mind of every homeowner when they decide to sell a home, and with so many doubts flying around your head, it can be tough to know that you’re concentrating on the right things when sprucing your home up to impress potential buyers. If you’re wanting to give it a go yourself, without the help of a home staging professional planner, we’re here to give you guidance.

 

CHECK OUT SOME OTHER TIPS:

Re-paint the walls with neutral colors
You may love the individuality of your pink walls and your kids may be crazy about green, but when it comes to buyers, it helps if they’re able to block out the individual style of the current owner and imagine what they’d love the home to look like. This is made abundently easier if  you utilise neutral tones, so give them a quick lick of paint, touch up any areas that are in need, and make the most of tans and whites.

Remove personal items
As mentioned above, it’s important to let your buyers feel what the home would be like for them. Buyers must be able to envision themselves into your home. So it’s better to remove everything that’s too personal like your personal photographs and individual sentimental posessions.

Have Proper Lighting
It’s show time, so make your home as enticing as possible through use of lighting. Open up the window areas and ensure you aren’t blocking out natural light.  Add floor and table lamps to all the areas where lighting is dim to ensure you aren’t leading buyers into a dingy home. Lights make your cheery room look bigger and welcoming.

Go Green
Green is the color of nature and symbolizes the growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. So, use some potted plants or a few pretty looking buds in a vase to bring some energy into the space. Also, fill out the empty corners of the home. Make sure that plants are healthy.

Organize your closets
When it comes to home selling, storage space is a huge selling point, if your open spaces and storage areas are cluttered and overflowing to the brim, buyers will get the feeling that you don’t have enough space. Make your belongings look more organized and remove all the excess clutter.

It might seem like common sense, but these quick simple jobs can make the world of difference. If you aren’t sure whether your home is ready for a viewing, have a test run with a family member or close friend. They’ll have a fresh mind, meaning they’ll see your home in the same way a buyer would.

 

Author Bio:

This article was produced exclusively for First Home News by Lynelle Thompson, a proffessional blogger and former writer on Interior Design and Home Decor related topics.

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Boring to beautiful homes in 6 simple steps
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Boring to beautiful homes in 6 simple steps

Your home is not only a place to lay your head, but a reflection of your individuality. Regularly updating the look of your home will help maintain a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere without running the risk of boredom. In order to achieve this, we’ve compiled our six top tips on how to transform your place from being boring into beautiful home, with little cost and minimal effort.

 

Wall Murals

Plain, dull coloured walls in a room can instantly add a sense of monotony when not used creatively. To brighten up lifeless walls around your home, design, create and paint your own mural. By choosing one singular wall as your focus point, adding a mural not only adds a sense of individuality to your room, but also saves on the expense of redecorating. For those of you who are less artistic, wall stickers are available for a quick fix to any room.

 

Storage Solutions

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Storage space is key when it comes to de-cluttering your home. Not only are storage boxes efficient, but they are also cheap. Store those rarely used belongings under your bed and inside your closet. By moving these items out of sight, focus is shifted on the remaining pieces of furniture in the room, whilst also giving the appearance of larger space. Alternatively, if you prefer to proudly display your collections, invest in some conventional storage shelves and cabinets to place around your home.

 

Accessorise

A patterned duvet is no longer enough to create that homely bedroom feel. By investing in cushions, throws and blankets, you are not only increasing the comfort of your bedroom, but also creating a more relaxed environment. Similarly, invest in contrasting cushions and throws for your living space in order to refresh the look of other rooms around the house.

 

Interior Lighting

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Lighting has a significant effect on the mood and ambiance within any room. Soft lighting creates a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, whereas bright, florescent lighting can be harsh. In order to achieve a relaxed atmosphere and sense of style within a room, invest in candles, crystal lampshades and fairy lights. Make sure you also make the most out of the natural light provided.

 

Improve your Exterior

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If the view outside your front room is not overly pleasing on the eye, distract yourself and visitors by making the view inside a more appealing one. With a variety of blinds, curtains and nettings, you can make sure the inside look attractive and stylish, even if the outside does not.

 

Personal Touch

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Finally, nothing says home sweet home quite like a display of framed family photographs. By hanging them along the hall, above the mantel piece or across the walls, the faces of your loved ones will brighten up any room within your home.

 

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Homes of the rich and famous: Where does Bond live?
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Homes of the rich and famous: Where does Bond live?

He’s the world’s most renowned secret agent, who dresses to kill, travels the globe with beautiful women and always saves the day, so it’s surely only fitting that James Bond lives in a stunning home?

The famed fictional member of her majesties secret service is always depicted in stunning locations, however for a glimpse into the lives of those lucky enough to take on the prized role, we’ve taken a look at their real life homes. Prepare yourself to get jealous…

 

Roger Moore

Roger Moore home

Listed on the market back in 2013 for a cool £4.5 million, this 11 acre Buckinghamshire house was the home to Roger Moore for the duration as his first three stints as 007. The incredible sprawling location offers five bedrooms, a drawing room, study, library, lobby, boot room, conservatory, games room, gym, a wine cellar and swimming pool. If that wasn’t already enough, the plot even has a separate annex and guesthouse to retire to.
Image: Savills

 

Sean Connery

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Home to one of the most popular Bond actors, this Irish mansion was home to Sean Connery throughout the 1970’s. Located in Bray, County Wicklow the Victorian six-bedroomed property is set in three-and-a-half acres of grounds which offer flower gardens, mature trees and a tennis court.

 

Pierce Brosnan

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If it’s the luxuary Hollywood lifestyle that you’d imagine for a Bond star, then Pierce Brosnan’s home ticks all the boxes. His 13,000 square-foot residence in the glamorous Californian hotspot that is Malibu is ideally on the beautiful west coast beachfront. A true hub for A-list film stars, Malibu boasts incredible weather, surf and quality of life – so it’s no surprise this Bond traded in his service revolver for this incredible new home. With neighbours including Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn, Mel Gibson, Cher, Dustin Hoffman and Danny DeVito, and an average home price on the street of over $10 million, this impressive abode is exactly what you’d expect from one of the world’s most deadly agents.
Image: Splash

 

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

As recently as 2014, rumours circulated that current Bond, Daniel Craig and hollywood star wife Rachel Weisz were interested in this £5 million valued Grade II listed converted mill. As a pair, the couple are amongst the biggest names in film, so we’re under no illusions that their action packed lifestyles will undoubtedly result in them owning homes around the world, however nestled away in Warwickshire this 18th century getaway boasts boasts eight bedrooms, a cinema and a lake, and sounds like the perfect retreat for a couple looking to escape the frantic Hollywood lifestyle.
Image: Heritage Property

 

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