Estate agents say families are looking for a new lifestyle since realising they can work remotely.


Estate agents are reporting a surge in demand for seaside properties from workers eager to escape city life, with many believing the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a more permanent shift to home working.

Britain has more than 11,000 miles of coastline and is home to a wide array of beaches and outstanding beauty spots.

As someone who moved from London to the coast last year, I can vouch for the benefits. Daily walks are taken parallel to the sea and on a hot day I can pop out for an ice cream in minutes. The chatter of seagulls is a constant refrain as I work from my desk at home. I have been even more grateful for the space and picturesque views during lockdown, which has meant I haven’t felt claustrophobic.

Estate agents say families are looking for a new lifestyle since realising they can work remotely. Jack Newland, who works at Fine & Country’s New Forest and Sandbanks branch, says the office has been inundated with enquiries since the housing market opened again. Around £20m-worth of property was secured in just 10 days.

“We’ve seen a high level of activity and enquiries on the south coast. It does seem that current events have encouraged people to take more of an interest in what is such a beautiful part of the country, with the aim to find a better quality of life while still being only two hours from the capital,” he says.

‘Life is infinitely better out here’

Ruari Fairbairns – Father-of-two

Ruari Fairbairns used to be an oil trader in London and moved to North Berwick in East Lothian a few years ago.

Fairbairns is the founder of One Year No Beer, a movement that helps people to take a break from alcohol. He set it up in 2015 after he decided to cut alcohol from his own life to help him “become a better dad and husband”. In 2017, his story got picked up and he met the Dalai Lama. This prompted him to quit his job and grow the business full time.

“At this point I wondered why we were still living in London. I was commuting by Tube to a windowless office. I was born on an island, near the sea, and wanted this lifestyle again. Now the beach is 10 minutes away and life is infinitely better. Most days I’m out on the boat and I can pick the children up from school.”

Northern shores

It’s not just the south coast that is benefiting from a surge in demand. According to the property website Rightmove, the most in-demand coastal locations currently are Whitby in North Yorkshire, followed by Whitley Bay in Tyne and Wear and Troon in Ayrshire. Average asking prices are £213,053 in Whitby and £165,386 in Ayrshire.

Whitley Bay, where average prices come in at £263,078, has benefited from a multi-million-pound regeneration programme in the past few years and this has led to an influx of new businesses in the area.

Susan Usher, branch manager of Your Move in Whitley Bay, says the town is popular with younger families as there are outstanding schools and beautiful beaches. She said: “Since the market reopened we’ve had an increase in people looking to move here. A number of properties are going for above asking prices.”

The cost of seaside properties fluctuates wildly depending on where you want to live. Sandbanks and Salcombe on the south coast, popular with the rich and famous, are the most expensive areas.

Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset, has an average asking price of £619,431, according to estate agent comparison website The cheapest place to buy is Blackpool, with average prices of £93,104, followed by Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, at £99,017.

Cornwall remains perennially popular among home hunters – particularly Padstow, Newquay and Bude. These are popular areas for second homes or holiday lets, putting even more pressure on prices.

Paying the price

Colby Short, the founder and chief executive of GetAgent, says city dwellers looking to relocate to Cornwall should consider opting for Wadebridge, which is close to Padstow but more affordable.

“While Wadebridge is not cheap, it provides a serious property price discount in the region of £50,000,” says Short. “Of course, this heightened demand for these ‘next best’ options will often cause prices to increase – so the downside is a reduction in affordability in the long term,” he adds.

Lee Reed-Bennett, 28, moved from London to Cornwall five years ago. He moved to St Austell with his partner, who has family there. He used to be a physiotherapist but now works for a local brewery. “I never thought I’d leave London, but I fell in love with the place,” says Reed-Bennett. Being here suits me down to the ground. St Austell isn’t the most picturesque place in Cornwall, but it has good pubs and shops and I’m only a 10-minute walk to work.

“When we’re not working, we spend a lot of time outside, enjoying what Cornwall has to offer. In the past few weeks I’ve had dinner more times at the beach than I have at home. I love this way of life.”

Seaside living is not for everyone. Popular areas are likely to be overrun by tourists in the hot weather, and some towns are struggling with high poverty levels.

But for those of us who have made the plunge, it’s hard to imagine now living anywhere that’s not by the sea.

(Article source: Inews)

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