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Second income: Own a holiday cottage

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Second income: Own a holiday cottage

My name is Susan (AKA Jean Burns for Facebook purposes) and I live in Dumfries with my husband who works full-time and will retire at 60. We have no dependents and this is crucial as I answer Eileen’s questions because I have to bear in mind how different my situation would be and how different my answers might be if we did. I’d hope that possibilities and opportunities are open to everyone though.  We decided that it would help our lives if we were to own a holiday cottage.

What subject/stage do you teach and how long have you been teaching?

I teach primary, have been at the same school for 30 years (!) and since 2010 I’ve worked part-time.

owning a holiday cottage

What do you love most about being a teacher?

Working with the children, seeing them access learning and all that schools have to offer, planning their learning and watching them develop.

What do you find most difficult/frustrating in teaching?

Apart from the unnecessary paperwork and the constant moving of the goal posts, the fact that, in education, we never say NO!

Tell us about how else you make money, apart from teaching?

I bought a house with a friend 6 years ago and we rent it out. We’re both registered landlords now and we share what little workload there is. That was a start and 2 years ago I spotted a little cottage-style house in town and I thought it would be fun to own a holiday cottage. I knew there were lots of short-assured tenancies available (minimum 6 months) but I could see a market for a few days, week- long type rentals as well.

When did you start this and what inspired you to do this?

We’ve always self-catered and know what makes a good holiday rental, so thought that we would be ideal to own a holiday cottage. I’ve also always thought Dumfries to be a fantastic wee town and a great base for a beautiful and unspoilt wee corner of Scotland. There’s so much to do here and I’ve always been drawn to offering people a personal, local product, so we put all our resources into Burns Street to do just that.

I have to admit the location is perfect, being town-centre, but tucked away, and on a historic street that hopefully the council will always maintain to as high a standard as they can. If the location hadn’t been perfect then my head would have over-ruled my heart. But, I’m a great believer in “whit’s fur ye won’t go by ye”, so 2 years ago, with financial and practical help from family and friends, we bought Burns Street.  We have discovered it is fun to own a holiday cottage and are slowly turning into a wee business that gives us much pleasure, a wee profit and an investment for the future. Ticks all the boxes really!!

What do you love most about it?

That it’s ours! And we’re not answerable to anyone except our own standards and conscience. I love meeting the guests who are always pleasant and friendly. I love getting ready for them and always try to look at the house with fresh eyes, as if I were the guest and what would I think was great and what would I think maybe needs adjustment. We’re always intrigued by the reasons people come and we strive to give them confidence in us and that we care about them and their stay. Which we do!

thanks-burns-streetWhat do you find most challenging about it and how do you overcome this?

I have to be careful not to become complacent, and I go back to what I said before that every new guest is here for the first time (or are returning guests of which we’ve had a few) and we have to make a great impression. All the feedback we get is rewarding, even the wee suggestions people make, which we are delighted with as we embrace anything that will enhance guests’ experiences.

There have been occasions when the level of cleaning needing done has been more than would be considered normal but then we just think of the people who leave it in a lovely condition and that makes up for it. And it is what we get paid for.

For many, the retirement age is now 67. Do you still see yourself teaching at this age?

No way! Things have changed in the profession far too much to cope with that level of workload and, for me at least, despondency. I started teaching in 1983 and I think people who started around then have seen huge and profound change, both in the profession and society as a whole. I strive not to be “an old fogey” and I’ll always enjoy the company of youngsters and be interested in their development and interests and welfare.

The 2 days that I do are great, but I also love the work involved in running Burns Street and it’s given me such a fresh perspective. I realise how lucky I am to have been in the position to do it and I would urge anyone out there looking for something alongside teaching to give it a go, no matter how small (or how big) it is. It’s such a refreshing, rewarding and inspirational change. And I still get to work in a school which is lovely (mostly!).

What does your ideal retirement look like? At what age? What do you see yourself doing?

To be honest, this is my ideal retirement. Doing a little bit of many things, being available for family, volunteering with a befriending project, going on holiday out of term time!! The only thing I don’t have time to do is learn to sail and that will happen after teaching and alongside Burns Street.

What plans do you have in place to allow you to live this ideal retirement?

For the last 6 years I’ve had to spend less money (and I’m spending even less since I hooked up with Eileen) but it’s also given me the confidence to realise I can get by on less. Investing in AVCs and endowments around 25 years ago has helped now and we’ve put a lot of that into the business and feel it’s not too risky. Living off a part-time wage has also made me realise I could survive on my work pension. You just have to be brave, go with your gut instinct and think, what’s the worst that can happen?

Any other comments?

I first realised there was something out there rather than teaching by volunteering. As well as being part of a group of volunteers I got insight into the world of work outside the classroom and this was a great eye-opener so I’d suggest anyone looking for something else begins with volunteering. Since starting our business we’ve embarked on one or two other enterprises, although on a much smaller scale. I made some bracelets last year and sold them at car boots and fayres in the run up to Christmas, and my husband designs and constructs coffee tables. Starting and operating Burns Street has given me confidence to do my own thing, not be weighed down by bureaucracy and not be stressed by the weight of accountability, except to myself and, of course, our lovely guests.

For more details about this wonderful cottage please see their Facebook page


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I am Eileen Adamson, a Your Money, Sorted coach, working online with UK based female teachers, helping them to develop a better relationship with money. By gaining an understanding of how their personality affects the decisions they make, I can help them to implement changes which will allow them to feel calm, positive and confident that they are in control and making good financial decisions. I can then support them to put into place simple strategies that will allow them to manage their finances effectively on a daily basis and create a stable, secure and exciting future for themselves.


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I am Eileen Adamson, a Your Money, Sorted coach, working online with UK based women, helping you to develop a better relationship with money. I can help you to understand your money mindset and implement changes which will allow you to feel calm, positive and confident as you become happier, healthier and wealthier.

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