‘London is over’ is a phrase perennially pronounced in the redtops and rags, but we’ve just looked out the window and nope, it’s still there, very much still alive and kicking.
What we think they’re trying to say is; to many, London is becoming a less and less desirable place to set up home. As house prices remain obstructively high, pollution casts a shadow, and the latest moral panic makes some feel unsafe, it’s no surprise that people are seeking solace away from the capital.
More often than not, it’s the lure of a life spent at the seaside that first tempts restless souls onto Rightmove. But it’s best to be honest, we think; it’s not all golden sands, blue skies and lobster for lunch. Time to get realistic, then, with these; our 5 IDEAL tips for Londoners looking to move to the seaside.
KEEP EXPECTATIONS GROUNDED
First things first; before you decide to pack it all in, up sticks and get the sand between your toes, it’s important to ask yourself exactly why you’re fleeing London for the seaside. Consider if your needs will be met by moving away, because let’s face it, though the grass always seems greener, sometimes it’s actually a little bit brown. In this case, gold sand seen from afar often turns out to be pebbles.
A bit of fact checking then, we think. If it’s the London air that’s getting you down, then you might be surprised to hear that pollution is actually falling in most parts of the city, with measures being taken to further tackle emissions. Should safety and crime be your main concern, then it’s good to remember that London is still a relatively safe place to live, despite what some sections of the media would have you believe. And although the crime rate of seaside towns is generally lower, they aren’t without their own set of problems.
Finally, if it’s peace and quiet you’re after, remember there’s a flipside; fewer amenities, less entertainment and a tangible calm when sometimes you’re looking for a buzz. For a while this serenity can seem great, but in time a yearning for the bright lights of the Big Smoke can set in. Even if after all of this, you’re still convinced it’s time to move on, then at least you’ve done your due diligence.
LONG OR SHORT TERM?
Key question here; are you moving in order to gain temporary respite from the chaos of the capital, or are you looking to move permanently to the beachfront? Consider your options in terms of buying outright, or long or short term rent accordingly.
Prices vary hugely from town to town, with a place on Dorset’s Sandbanks costing an average £664’655 to buy, while the least expensive places tend to be further north, in Scotland specifically, with Galloway, Thurso, and Argyll and Bute all clocking in at less then £100’000. Short term rentals are actually fairly easy to find, with seaside towns having plenty of holiday homes and places aimed at tourists, and therefore designed to be appealing to transient renters. On the flipside, beachside properties for long term rent can be prohibitively expensive for the same reason.
Another option available is a life tenancy investment. We spoke to the guys at Wakeleyinvest.co.uk, who serve the seaside town of Wakeley, 10 km from Brighton. They said this type of commitment is growing in popularity, with the investment being medium to long term in nature, and granting a person permission to live in the property for their life’s duration. This typically halves the price of property upfront, making it a useful option to consider for those in the over sixties bracket.
CONSIDER THE HIDDEN COSTS
Though a cursory cost comparison check may make the seaside appear affordable against London’s sky high prices, there are hidden costs aplenty to take into account. Firstly, beach towns are very specifically positioned to rake in the tourist coin, so cafes, pubs, restaurants and attractions are usually pretty pricey. And should you start casting covetous glances back at London, getting there by train and having a night on the tiles is going to set you back a pretty penny, too.
…BUT ALSO THE HIDDEN SAVINGS
There are also a few hidden savings to take into account, before you’re completely put off your seaside adventure. Firstly, if the vibe is pleasant and the views picturesque, staycations become an attractive, affordable alternative to the round-the-world galivants which can take a huge bite out of your yearly budget. The fresh air and long stretches of sand might also save you on a gym membership. After all, what better way to get fit than under the sun with the fresh sea breeze in your lungs. And finally, most seaside towns are eminently walkable, making that extortionate weekly Oyster travel card a thing of distant memory.
Of course, whether you’ll continue to work in London or relocate to a new office is a crucial consideration. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so, if you’ve lived in London a while), commuting into the capital from your new home can actually work out cheaper and less time consuming than travelling across the city to and from the office.
The top ten commuter towns were recently revealed by Totally Money and it makes for interesting reading. Watford Junction, for instance, takes just 19 minutes to London with a year’s season ticket costing £3’204 (an annual oyster card from Zone 6 to 1 will cost around £2’600). Cheshunt ranked as a commuter’s favourite town, with a 26 minute journey time and a season ticket of £400 cheaper than one from within London. Food for thought, we think.