HEADER - Seven Sisters, E Sussex

Oh we do like to rent beside the seaside

HEADER - Seven Sisters, E Sussex

Paddleboarding. Boat-fresh seafood. The sand between your toes and the sound of the sea in your ears. When it comes to an idyllic lifestyle, the coast has got it in (buckets and) spades. With our Life Moves survey revealing that 18% of us want to make the move shoreside, we dig deeper into why renting could be the way forward.

While the bright lights of big cities and the small village appeal of rural spots remain popular, there has been a sea change in priorities. At Strutt & Parker, our latest research ranked the coast in top spot for dream locations, with property hunters putting lifestyle above all. That’s not the only change, though. As well as retirees, young couples and families are increasingly looking at properties – and businesses – beside the sea.

A seaside retreat is now in the top 5 ideal home types, according to our latest Life Moves survey.

When his family swapped Scotland for Devon, Blair Stewart set up a local Strutt & Parker office in Kingsbridge – and discovered a fresh take on work-life balance. “At the end of a busy day, there’s nothing more relaxing than jumping in a boat and chucking a fishing rod over the side,” Blair says. “Mobile phones mean I can keep in contact with clients while I’m sailing.”

Try, before you buy

Sailing, sandcastle building… it’s easy to see why coastal homes are hot property. With demand often outstripping supply, and 52% of us citing finances as the main barrier to buying, renting could be a step in the right direction – as well as offering some much-needed flexibility.

For those looking to navigate a big, often life-changing move, a long-term let means real immersion in a new community – and lifestyle. This gives house-hunters valuable time to soak up all a new location offers before settling down. For young couples and families in particular, it’s a chance to look closely at schools, make connections, settle into a new job or try out full-time working from home.

The movers – and shakers

While an influx in holiday and second homes in recent years has been a contentious issue in coastal communities, and with possible government regulation on the horizon, long-term renters can make a more positive impact. Increasing numbers of younger people are setting their sights on living, working and raising families beside the sea, which is bringing change for good. The hybrid and working-from-home generation are driving more co-working spaces to pop up, such as PlusX in Brighton. Young entrepreneurs are looking at business opportunities, from paddle board and surf-hire shops, to setting up creative agencies and satellite offices. While their desire to meet and mix socially is bringing a year-round boost to the economy.

As Richard Speedy, Head of Strutt & Parker’s Waterside division, explains: “If more people are living by the sea full time, it will transform the economies from a primarily seasonal model – and offer business opportunities to local people, too.”

And as the residents diversify, so does the housing stock. As well as family-friendly period homes and bungalows that are great for downsizers, increasing numbers of build-to-rents (BTRs) are springing up along the coast.

Brixham Harbour, Devon

Brixham Harbour, Devon

Up-and-coming coastal areas

With their beautiful landscapes and the breath-of-fresh-air lifestyle they offer, there’s a reason coastal towns and villages are so sought-after. And property prices continue to reflect this. However, when armed with detailed insights – and the support of a knowledgeable agent – re-locators can still find affordable spots.

1. Brixham, Devon

Good for boating, it’s easy to see why so many have started to drop anchor in this harbour town. “It may have experienced some of the fastest house price rises in the region, but the price per square foot is still half as much as in Salcombe or Dartmouth,” says Strutt & Parker’s Richard Speedy.

2. Folkestone, Kent

Shore-side Folkestone fringes the North Downs, making this port a best-of-both-worlds option. It’s also a cultural hub, with its regenerated cobbled streets now home to the Creative Quarter, artisan cafés and bistros.

3. Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear

With its golden sand beach and expansive nature reserve, you’d never know the bustling city of Newcastle is just 10 miles away. Weekends can be spent rock pooling, seal spotting and playing mini golf at the seafront course.

4. Worthing, West Sussex

Families who struggle to get a foothold in pricey Brighton or Chichester are turning to Worthing. A short journey from its neighbour Brighton, it has popular schools and promises MasterChef-cooked food, courtesy of local rising star, Kenny Tutt.

5. Kingsdown and Deal, Kent

With elegant Georgian houses and beautiful landscapes at your front door, this part of Kent has been life-enhancing for a couple we spoke to in Life Moves. “The sheer beauty of the landscape and the sea is difficult to describe. We naturally walk and spend more time outdoors here – and regularly see grey seals,” they said. “People are friendly – perhaps living in such a beautiful environment helps peoples’ moods.”

For more on this and other housing trends, dip into our Life Moves publication.

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