Realising the dream of coastal property, either as a bolthole or main home, is getting trickier these days. Prices in the most sought after spots can be extortionate, rivalling those of the inner city. Cheaper towns aren’t always attractive places to live. Finding somewhere desirable, with reasonable, but rising house prices is always going to be a challenge. So, for those seeking salty air and blustery walks, we’ve found some innovative places to get you thinking outside the box.
A short distance from the madding crowds of Torquay, local property agents are tipping Brixham as the next big thing on the English Riviera. The harbour front, with pastel coloured houses ascending the hill, is every bit the picture postcard. It has a brilliant selection of seafood restaurants serving the day’s catch. Shoalstone pool is a seawater lido for those who enjoy a bracing dip and the local Yacht club should keep you busy at weekends.
The North Norfolk coast boasts some of the UK’s best beaches and a great selection of traditional and gastropubs. It’s also got house prices to match. In Burnham Market, which locals nickname “Chelsea-on-Sea” for its abundance of second homes and Range Rovers, 4 beds can go for £1m upwards. Drive ten minutes along the coast road and you’ll find properties for around half that in Wells-next-the-Sea.
Until recently, the town looked rather down at heel, but has undergone a rejuvenation in recent years. Property prices are beginning to hot up. Its picturesque quay looks over a salt marsh and through the pine forests further north, you’ll find a truly stunning beach with white sand dunes and a neat row of candy-coloured beach huts. Its local academy is ‘good’ and public school, Greshams, is thirty minutes away.
On the Fife coast, golfers who don’t mind a rather windswept setting will want to look at Crail and its surrounding area. In itself a beautifully sleepy fishing village, with cobbled streets and a quaint harbour, the big draw is that St Andrews is just twenty minutes away. Crail also has its own golf course – the seventh oldest in the world and there are various others in the area.
The nearest big city is Edinburgh, which is ninety minutes away, so this may not be one for commuters. For downsizers and second home buyers, properties are undervalued and attractive cottages can go for very little compared to those nearer St. Andrews.
For those in search of a more urban experience by the seaside, you could do a lot worse than Southampton. Its city centre is generic, but its once industrial waterfront is rapidly being regenerated. House prices are still thoroughly reasonable too. It has a good selection of schools. St Anne’s Catholic state school is outstanding and the local private school, King Edward VI School also has a very good reputation. The Solent and all it has to offer is right on your doorstep. The charming town of Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, hosts the largest sailing regatta of its type in the world and is just a forty-five-minute ferry ride away. The New Forest is also a short drive out of town. A train to London takes just one hour to boot.
The Isles of Scilly, Cornwall
If what you’re looking for is a total escape, but perhaps don’t fancy the Outer Hebrides, then the Isles of Scilly might be a good option. They have a temperate climate and with the white sandy beaches, azure seas and subtropical gardens you could easily imagine you’re somewhere much warmer. Homes are in short supply and the average house price is high as a result. Fast broadband came to the islands in 2014, so if you’re a homeworker, this could be a realistic option. And if you fancy quitting the mainland permanently, good schooling is available on the islands up to the age of sixteen, after which, teens will need to head to the mainland.
Often described as Britain’s only desert, a shingle headland in the English Channel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to buying a house. Perhaps that’s why it passes below the radar for many homebuyers. Yet, its landscape inspires a deep devotion in its residents and many of its visitors. It’s also a nature reserve, so development is banned. A lot of the existing properties are built from converted railway carriages and do pop up on the market from time to time for around £240,000. Those seeking a less isolated experience or a Sainsburys, might want to look at New Romney just up the road. Ashford International (thirty minutes away) has a highspeed rail connection to London St Pancras (thirty-eight minutes).