How We Use Holiday Homes to Supplement Our Income and Pension

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With holidays within the UK booming, those looking at options to improve the returns on their savings might consider a switch to owning a holiday let property.


With holidays within the UK booming, those looking at options to improve the returns on their savings might consider a switch to owning a holiday let property.

Shirley Child and Graham Bell, owners of Westfield Barns in Yorkshire, successfully converted their derelict farm buildings into two beautiful holiday lets in order to supplement their pension and farming business. Here, Shirley shares the process, challenges and results of their project.

What Made You Decide to Set Up a Holiday Let?

“Graham was born and has farmed at Westfield all his life, a farmer through and through. I was brought up on a dairy farm, but the farm was sold when I was in my 20’s after the death of my Aunt. Graham and I met in 2014 and I moved to the farm in 2015, bringing my dogs horse and sheep with me. I retired from my specialist nurse role, having nursed a total of 42 years.

Graham had some lovely old regency red brick loose boxes that are no longer useful in modern farming. They were becoming derelict and in desperate need of repair. Graham was looking at using the buildings for diversification, and I was looking to maximise my capital from the sale of my house. The perfect solution seemed to be converting the barn into holiday cottages.”

What Was the Biggest Challenge in Getting into Holiday Letting?

“The biggest challenge was the planning application process, it was very expensive, frustrating and took over a year. However, once we gained the relevant planning it was fairly plain sailing thanks to friends who are builders and crafts men keeping us right.”

How Did Help You on the Journey?

“When we completed the conversion, we asked several agents to visit for us to consider signing up to. We felt offered the best contract for us, were the most professional, and gave the best practical and supportive advice which we really appreciated as we were on a very steep learning curve.”

What Were the Results of Your Venture?

“We now have two holiday cottages that we are very proud of and have had enjoyed the journey to get where we are. We have had some fantastic reviews and received a customer choice award for both cottages, which we feel is the icing on the cake. We have been extremely busy which is wonderful, and this has generated an extra income to supplement my pension. The money I have invested has provided a better financial return than any other investment I was considering. It also added value to the farm estate and provides Graham with a supplementary income.”

What Are Your Plans for the Future?

“Graham will never retire, farmers just don’t. For me it has been a very different type of work, I have found it to be an exciting challenge which I have embraced and learnt so much. We have met some really lovely people who have shown great respect for our property and been very complimentary which means a lot to us. We both enjoy meeting people from different walks of life and sharing our lifestyle with them. Our goal is for our guests to enjoy their holiday time with us in a rural setting.”

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