Waterside Survey 2018 - Scotland Results

Q4 2018

Survey reveals half of Scots would pay a 10-25% premium for waterside homes with stunning views

  • More than half of Scots would pay a 10-25% premium for outstanding views over water and direct beach access
  • 63% favour living by the coast above any other form of water
  • 48% have their hopes set on a waterside cottage
  • More than half would choose a waterside address for relaxation (61%), better air quality (58%) and views (54%)
  • 53% chose walking and exercise as their favourite waterside activities
  • 70% thought people living near the water were generally happier than those who didn’t
  • 73% of respondents owned or lived in a property within three miles of a body of water, whether sea, river, estuary, loch or canal.

Strutt & Parker’s 2018 Waterside Survey, with 2,000 respondents across the UK, shows that in Scotland 31% would pay a premium of up to 10% and 54% would pay a 10-25% premium for properties with outstanding views over water. Additionally, 55% would pay a 10-25% premium for direct beach access from the house while 41% would pay a 10-25% premium for water access by boat. A further 14% and 27% would pay up to 50% more for beach access from the house and access by boat respectively.

In Scotland, a total of 63% of respondents favoured living by the coast above any other form of water. As many as 48% would choose a cottage while seaside retreats (19%), modern/Grand Designs style (21%), and period properties (19%) were also popular. Additionally, 52% think living near the water or having a second home near water is obtainable within the next five years.

Susanna Clark, director of research at Strutt & Parker, Scotland, said: “It is clear from the survey that waterside properties continue to command high premiums and this is backed up by the average prices in popular waterside locations. Although Registers of Scotland data doesn’t include sales over £1million which may cause a greater disparity between local authority sold prices and actual waterside transaction data, there is a distinct pattern. Properties around Loch Ness average £220,518, 24% higher than the Highland area average of £178,145. In Aboyne, on the banks of the River Dee, properties average £314,409, 44% over the Aberdeenshire average of £218,112. In North Berwick, where the average price is £378,365, purchasers are paying a 67% premium over the East Lothian average of £226,482. Similarly, in Argyll, property listings average £167,801. However, in picturesque Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, the average rises 16% to £194,029.”

Malcolm Leslie, Head of Residential Sales at Strutt & Parker in Scotland, said: “The lure of waterside living remains strong. It has so much to offer, from beautiful views, an outdoorsy lifestyle and an excellent quality of life to a really sociable environment in which to spend time with friends and family. This is borne out by our survey which showed that 53% chose walking and outdoors activities as the most attractive lifestyle factors associated with waterside properties. The promise of good food also remained an important draw with waterside pubs and restaurants an important consideration for 35% while 29% rated café culture and 17% put the foodie scene high on their list. Relaxation (61%), better air quality (58%) and beautiful views (54%) were all powerful reasons to buy a waterside address.

“Of the top waterside activities, it is unsurprising that 29% chose watersports – sailing/boating, rowing, kayaking/canoeing, surfing/windsurfing – and that 25% put swimming high on the list. More optimistically, in Scotland, 38% of respondents favoured sunbathing but then we have had an incredible summer.

“Perhaps predictably, our national dish of fish and chips came out on top as the nation’s favourite seaside cuisine with 63% of respondents voting for it, but ice cream (41%), picnics (24%), lobster (16%), mussels (16%) and crab (14%) were all high on the list.”

He added: “Mainland Scotland is skirted by more than 6,000 miles of coastline which rises to 10,000 plus when the islands are included. There is abundant scope for waterside property and we think Scottish waterside homes are among some of the best in the world. They are perennially popular and, with the odd exception, offer sought-after attributes wherever they might be.

“Many seaside towns such as North Berwick in East Lothian, Elie in Fife or Rosemarkie on the Black Isle peninsula attract significant interest and command a premium but often, in terms of popularity, the location is less important than the package. The magic quality comes down to how a property sits within its own land, whether it is well protected and private, if it has nothing between the house and the sea/water frontage, if it offers water access and staggering views. Direct access to the water via a slipway, quay, running mooring or pontoon is important to many, increasingly so at the top end of the market. A ring-fenced package which offers all of the above, particularly combined with easy accessibility, will attract a lot of interest. You can’t really overestimate the value of that feeling of freedom, of being able to launch a boat from the shore in front of your house or row out to your mooring.”

The popularity of waterside addresses has long been associated with quality of life and the links between living by the water and benefits to mental health have long been documented. For example, the landmark book Blue Mind, written by marine biologist Dr Wallace J. Nichols in 2014, introduces the “blue mind” state and explains the remarkable effect of water on our health and wellbeing. Additionally, a 2016 study by Michigan State University health geographer Andrea Pearson was the first report to find a link between health and visibility of water, which scientists call “blue space”. The study showed that increased views of blue space were significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress, which wasn’t found with views of green space.

Correspondingly, in the Strutt & Parker survey, Scots thought those living by the water were generally happier (70%), physically healthier (59%) and mentally healthier (64%) than those who didn’t.

Dr George MacKerron is conducting the world’s largest geo-located wellbeing study at the London School of Economics which corroborates some of the research findings of Strutt & Parker’s 2018 Waterside Survey. His study, called ‘Mappiness’ (, which is still under development, has so far had over 3.5 million responses from more than 65,000 individuals and provides new lines of evidence on the environmental impacts on wellbeing.

Dr MacKerron said: “When conducting our ‘Mappiness’ research, we have the GPS location of every response, and can therefore join reported happiness values with other data over time and space, including weather and land cover type (as remotely sensed by satellite), all feeding into a statistical model of happiness. When we do this, controlling dozens of other factors – including what people are doing, whom they’re with, the time of day, day of the week, and even each person’s own average happiness level – we find that the ‘marine and coastal margins’ habitat type, which includes estuaries and wetlands, is by some distance the happiest of all natural environments.”