Want to know which are the best seaside towns in the UK? We don't blame you – lockdown has forced many of us to rethink where and how we live – and for many city dwellers, now's the time to think about moving out into the countryside or down to the coast.
The benefit of a seaside town? Well, for urbanites, there's still that buzz – pubs, restaurants, shops – but then, of course, there's the beach... However, the UK's seaside towns vary in what they have to offer – and some have fallen on hard times, while others have prospered; some are large towns, others are small.
Then there is the question of work: if you work from home, then you may well enjoy a quieter, more remote location. If, on the other hand, you will need to find a job in your new town, not all will have a thriving, year-round industry to offer you the chance to earn what you could in London, as some of them rely almost entirely on tourism. We guide you through the pros and cons of living in some of the most beautiful seaside places in the UK.
If you're planning on buying, use our expert guide find out how to get the best mortgage rates on houses in any of these beautiful places.
1. Bournemouth, Dorset: the best beach in England
With a beach that is often named one of the best in Europe, Bournemouth offers miles and miles of golden sand and one of the best job scenes in southern England. Property prices differ significantly between areas and types of home (there is a celebrity presence that pushes up house prices), but a flat can be bought for around £160,000, and a three-bed semi for around £300,000.
2. Cardiff, Wales: best for culture and friendly people
Lovely Cardiff is one of the best cities to live in the UK, full stop, with lots going on culturally (the Wales Millennium Centre, for example, is often compared to the Sydeny Opera House), a smart and lively waterfront, and reasonable house prices, with the average home in the Welsh capital costing £248,354. And did you know that Cardiff Bay has some really lovely beaches?
3. Aldeburgh, Suffolk: 'London on sea'
If you're ready for a slower pace of life, with a stunning beach on your doorstep, Aldeburgh is as good as it gets. A small, prosperous Suffolk town about 25 miles away from Ipswich, Aldeburgh is already really, really popular with Londoners. It has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, a very decent provision of shops and restaurants, and a delightful promenade along the pristine beach, and you have the perfect seaside destination.
The peaceful and easy-going environment does come at a cost: house prices are nearly double the national average here, with a typical cottage property going for as much as £600,000. Nor is Aldeburgh a commuter town, although it may be possible to commute into Ipswich or Norwich. It will best suit someone working from home and/or raising a young family (there's an excellent primary school in Aldeburgh).
4. Brixham, Devon: glamorous and bustling
Wondering where in the UK is the nearest to the South of France? It's Brixham. With a stunning beach and views, and a thriving town centre not unlike a Provencal town, Brixham is the perfect choice for someone who wants both the tranquility of the sea, and the dynamic feel of the town. And – for our money, Brixham has the best fish and chips in Devon.
Property here is eminently affordable, with a terraced home costing between £130,000 and £275,000. The potential drawback of living in Brixham is its relative remoteness (there is no train station, so you would be definitely reliant on driving), and the choice of schools is not amazing, making it more suitable to people without children.
5. Aberystwyth, Wales: more than just a resort
Aberystwyth really is gorgeous, with rows of colour-washed Victorian terraced houses lining its scenic promenade. Properties in the quirky, old town centre are very affordable, standing at £150,000 to £200,000, while larger properties in the green suburbs will set you back around £400,000.
Aberystwyth has another important strength – its world-class university, which makes it a diverse and young place with lots on culturally. The University, alongside the National Library and local council offices, is a big employer, making Aberystwyth much more than just a tourist town, and making it possible to work and live in the same place. Be prepared, however, that like any university town, Aberystwyth gets very busy on the weekends and in the summer.
6. Brighton, East Sussex: cosmopolitan and dynamic
Brighton is the most urban destination on our list, offering the full city experience while boasting a glorious pebble beach and one of the most impressive seaside piers in the country. It also boasts a distinctive look not unlike London, with grand Regency properties to rival Kensington. Young and cosmopolitan, Brighton matches London in terms of diversity and variety of people and things to do, but with almost everything within walking distance.
Crucially, Brighton has a thriving jobs' market, with careers available in a range of information industries, from PR to software engineering. Or, with London just over an hour away, you could commute. Properties aren't cheap here, with an average property costing just under £400,000. And Brighton is not immune to many of the problems all larger cities face, such as higher crime rates and road congestion.
7. The Outer Hebrides: remote and romantic
Want to change your life completely, and have the budget to do so? Scotland's Hebrides are as remote and beautiful as it gets, with white sandy beaches that rival the Caribbean (just don't expect the sea to be warm). Be prepared for a very different way of life, with a limited selection of shops and places to eat; one of our sources has referred to living there as 'stepping back in time'. Bear this in mind if you have teenaged kids, as they'll probably hate it, at least at first.
And yet – Hebrideans report being very happy and don't want to leave once they get settled. As a very basic guideline, the Uists are very quiet and isolated, while Lewis and Harris are busier. Our advice if you are considering this dramatic move is to visit in winter, when the stormy weather is at its harshest. If you still love it, you may well have found your perfect seaside destination.
8. The Isles of Scilly: best for a unique microclimate
Are these the Maldives? No – the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast, are perhaps England's best-kept seaside secret (or were until now: sorry, Isles of Scilly). A tiny archipelago with a population of just 2,200 people, this is the place to go for a slow and calm pace of life, azure waters, and a very special, mild microclimate without harsh winters. Just be prepared that there will be more tourists than locals during the summer months.
9. Dartmouth, Devon: picture perfect and glamorous
There so many opportunities for seaside living in Devon that it's hard to pick, but Dartmouth has such a classy and relaxed vibe that it had to be one of our favourites. The tiny town with a population of just over 5,000, it nonetheless has smart shops, little art galleries, music venues, and restaurants aplenty. There's also a pre-school, a primary school, and an academy, making this a great location for families. It's not cheap, with an average house price of £362,871, but it truly is a stunning place to live.
10. North Berwick, Scotland: smart village and country walks
A short (and cheap) train ride from Scotland, North Berwick is one of East Lothian's prettiest villages, with an upmarket look and feel (think boutique shops and a local yacht club). Two sandy bays make for spectacular beach strolling or water sports. House prices vary considerably depending on the type of property you're after: while a flat would set you back just over £100,000, larger period properties can go for upwards of £500,000. There's a nursery and a high school, making North Berwick especially suitable for parents.