Growing numbers of Londoners are swapping the city for the country after months of urban lockdown has left them dreaming of greener pastures. And the rapid rise in house prices among coastal properties shows that it’s not just green fields but sea air that buyers are now seeking out.
According to research by Compare My Move, these are the top ten most desirable coastal towns – based on average house prices, beach quality and the amount of rainfall.
Properties in Whitstable cost an average of £394,403, meaning that relocating Londoners can currently pick up sizeable homes with relative ease. Located in the South East, it’s one of the driest coastal locations on this list. Just an hour and fifteen minutes on the train to London, it’s your best bet if you want to keep a foot in both camps.
Seaford, East Sussex
This sleepy seaside town is not far from Brighton, offering coastal tranquility close to big town buzz. Nestled next to the stunning Seven Sisters cliffs, its high water quality makes it a good choice for wild swimmers. Average house prices are £347,786 – lower than Whitstable, and Brighton offers a solid train route into London.
Tucked up in its own secluded bay on the Isle of Purbeck, Swanage has always remained in the shadow of its more brash cousins on the other side of Poole Harbour – namely, Sandbanks and Poole. But it’s only a matter of time before its quaint Victorian charm, complete with picturesque pier, steam railway and gorgeous yellow sand beach attracts the attention of property investors. Houses average at £375, 818, with many properties in the town boasting sea views. Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove are just around the corner but train links aren’t the best – the nearest station is seventeen miles away in Wareham.
Herne Bay, Kent
With an average property price of £292,996, Herne Bay is where to go if you’re looking to pick up a bargain. Whilst Margate and Whitstable have both seen their fair share of gentrification, Herne Bay offers old school seaside town charm by the bucketload. Beach and water quality are high and train links to London are good with lines into both King’s Cross St Pancras (1 hour 20 minutes) and London Victoria (1 hour 35 minutes).
Poole’s main town centre was bombed heavily during the war but the quayside has been beautifully restored and boasts a growing number of bustling waterside bars and restaurants – perfect for brunch looking out over the yachts towards Brownsea Island. The average property price is £361,186 but make sure you do your research to find the best roads as the town can vary wildly between the picturesque and the run-down. In the centre of Poole, properties close to Poole park or the quay are your best bet.
For those with a bit more cash to splash, Sandbanks and Canford Cliffs boast upmarket footballers’ mansions nestled amongst pine trees and within easy reach of what is arguably one of Britain’s best family beaches: picture soft white sand, wooded ‘chimes’ that take you through the woods to the beach and a far-reaching promenade that extends all the way to Bournemouth.
Sandwiched between Boscombe and Christchurch, Southbourne boasts a beautiful beach, parts of which are backed by unspoilt dunes. Property prices, which average at a giddy £430,947, reflect its proximity both to the nature reserve at Hengitsbury Head and Christchurch Bay beyond it. Trains to London can be caught from nearby Pokesdown (2 hours).
The Victorian esplanade at Weymouth – with its arcades, ice cream huts and fairground, encapsulates everything we loved about those British seaside holidays of old. The water is shallow and the shops and facilities run all the way along the back of the bay, making it ideal for families. Properties here can still be snapped up at a decent price (they average just £266,335). There is a direct train line into London, although journey times are lengthy.
Bournemouth caught the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the summer as pictures of crowded beaches hit the front pages at the height of the pandemic. But there’s much to recommend this seaside town. Not only are increasing numbers of medium-sized businesses relocating here from London, it’s well connected with a diverse range of bars and restaurants for when we reach the other side of Covid-19. Begin your property search in the lesser known corners such as Branksome Chime and you’ll find a stretch of beach not nearly as crowded in the summer.
People flock here for a reason. Bournemouth is a solid option for those not quite ready to make a complete break from the city. The average property price is £300, 548.
Camber, East Sussex
Camber Sands is another stretch of coast to opt for to secure a bargain. The average price of property is just £288,227. Backed by dunes, the beach has a natural feel that will suit those looking for the raw beauty and a less developed coast line. In fact, the beach has often played host to Hollywood movies – scenes from both Dunkirk and The Theory of Everything were shot here. The area also boasts a group of resident seals. Trains from nearby Rye take you into London in 1 hour 15 minutes.
Felixstowe has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. Independent shops and cafes have been gradually popping up, transforming what used to be a rather drab Edwardian port town into something more idyllic. Away from the port are four miles of beautiful beaches, peppered with colourful beach huts and a promenade that makes the coastline very accessible. Property prices average at £267,395 – so why not snap up a slice of sea air while it’s still affordable.