Are you one of those people who want to be by sea whenever they get the opportunity? Perhaps you grew up by the seaside and want to go back to your roots, or maybe you are longing for a big life change, and a seaside town is especially appealing?
The good news is that in the UK, you are never more than 100 miles away from the sea, so there is ample choice of seaside towns and villages. But not all of them were created equal, and some have fallen on hard times, while others have prospered.
Then there is the question of work: if you work from home, then you may well enjoy a quieter, more remote destination. If, on the other hand, you will need to find a job in your new location, not all seaside towns will be suitable, 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.
1. Aldeburgh, Suffolk: relaxed and chic
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 has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that is spellbinding. Add to that 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).
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.