Escape to the Country couple left living in a campervan

Karen and Steve living in their campervan called Dave
Karen and Steve living in their campervan called Dave -Credit:BBC

If you decided to pack all your stuff up and say goodbye forever to the UK to spend your retirement somewhere much sunnier what would make you come back again less than 18 months later and ask the popular BBC property programme Escape to the Country for help? Couple Karen and Steve sold their UK home in West Sussex with a plan to live out their retirement in their holiday home on Portugal's silver coast.

They hoped to split their time between their Portuguese house and travelling around in their beloved campervan called Dave. But life-changing news totally altered the couple's plan and forced them to sell their Portuguese house and then to live full-time in Dave.

But on the show the couple explained that living in Dave was not so bad. Karen said: "Dave is really well-designed and split into rooms. I've managed to make up a few dishes that take up less space but I've also had a few tantrums because of the lack of space as well."

READ MORE: The surprising story of restoring an ancient manor house including the fear of being haunted

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Sea view cottage with bubblegum pink roof that's nothing like you'd expect inside

A property screened by trees
The house in Portugal had to go -Credit:BBC

Presenter Jules Hudson met the couple and found out one extra and most important driving force that led to the sale of the house in Portugal and the return to the UK; Karen had recently found out that she had MS. Jules said: "I imagine that had a huge impact on your decision to change life in general?"

Karen replied: "Yes, absolutely, I've had to give up my career. But then we just decided that we wanted to do all of the things that we wanted to do now, rather than leave it, and fortunately Steve is incredibly supportive so we are having adventures now."

A woman cooking
Cooking meals in Dave the campervan sometimes resulted in tantrums -Credit:BBC
A bed in a camper van with open doors looking out to a field
At least the view from the 'bedroom' could be chosen and changed every night -Credit:BBC

Steve said: "We realised that being in Portugal is a long way away from the UK, family, and friends, and gradually through the year I think we both individually came to the conclusion that we weren't so sure about settling in Portugal." So the couple got back onboard their campervan permanently to look for a new home in and around the glorious Wye Valley. They were hoping for a detached house in a quiet spot on the edge of a village with at least three bedrooms, a large kitchen, a garden for growing vegetables and, of course, a driveway for Dave. They had a budget of £650,000.

Three people sat around a table
A cup of tea in Dave with presenter Jules Hudson -Credit:BBC
The outside of a house
Property one was pretty but wasn't for them -Credit:BBC

Property one was in the village of Linton near the Herefordshire border and was a pretty stone cottage with a wood-clad extension on the market for £499,950 but neither of the couple felt connected to it. Steve was blown away by the stunning countryside views but the small garden on the side of a hill was disappointing.

On to the village of Llangarron in Herefordshire. Just outside the village a detached £600,000 stone barn offered them space and character but when Jules asked the couple if they wanted another look inside and the answer was no that was the end of this property as their possible new UK home.

An exterior view of a barn
Property two was a converted barn -Credit:BBC
A home seen from the outside
Karen liked property three's kitchen -Credit:BBC

A pretty detached cottage in Viney Hill, Gloucestershire, that was on the market for £495,000 captivated Karen but Steve was not as smitten with the house. Even the garden with a view of the River Severn Estuary at the end could not persuade him. The couple thought the price was incredible and Karen loved the country kitchen and Steve said he could see them living in the house but he still didn't seem to be feeling as much love for it.

On to the mystery house and from outside the couple were impressed with the property. The garden was enchanting and captivated them both but Karen felt a little underwhelmed by the inside of the house, calling the lounge "squashy", while the kitchen was too small for the pair. The house was in Bishopswood, Herefordshire, and on the market for £595,000.

A wide view of a modern detached house
The mystery house almost tempted them -Credit:BBC
A campervan with an open sliding door
Couple left the show still homeless and still in Dave -Credit:BBC

Despite their reservations the couple did actually return to the mystery house for a second viewing but decided that it wasn't for them. But the couple did decide to let Dave take them to more areas of the UK to explore as a place to call their UK home. They explored Dorset and Somerset but eventually they arrived in Devon and found a place they fell in love with. They made an offer that was accepted so soon Dave will be parked on a new driveway.

Their story was featured on Escape to the Country series 24, episode 13, currently available to view on BBC iPlayer. For more property stories sent to your inbox twice a week sign up to the property newsletter here and join the Amazing Welsh Homes property Facebook group here. For the latest TV and showbiz news sign up to our newsletter here.

Find your own escape to the country home here: