The results are in from this year’s Sunday Times “Best Places to Live Survey” and we’ve gathered our property experts together to bring you a flavour of the winners. If you’re considering a move from your present area, you’ll be spoiled for choice with these stunning locations.
From Scotland’s winners of Edinburgh and North Berwick, down through the North West, featuring Chester and Knutsford, then touring the Midlands and into the South with Amersham, Cheltenham, Oxford, Cobham and Shipston on Stour, and reaching the South Coast with its winners of Exeter and Falmouth, this is a rich and varied list, with something for everyone.
Read on to explore the splendours of the British landscape:
Our local area expert for Scotland, Martin Watt, could talk at length about the appeal of the contrasting winners of Edinburgh & North Berwick.
He waxes lyrical on the beauties of Edinburgh as a city, and its everlasting appeal, but also recommends that you get out of the city to explore further afield, and see the stunning countryside, either south to the Borders or north into Fife and Perthshire and beyond.
For example, the Three Sisters mountains in Glencoe polled second place in the Top Ten Views in the UK (poll by Samsung) in April 2017. And in February 2017, Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris placed number four in the TripAdvisor awards’ Top 10 UK Beaches.
Martin considers Edinburgh to be Scotland’s premier property market and knows that, for the right property in the right location, you need to be prepared to pay over the asking price.
North Berwick is one of the principal towns in the county of East Lothian, situated to the east of Edinburgh, close enough for a commute into the city, yet far enough removed for relatively peaceful living. Martin’s view is that, in some cases, slightly cheaper housing can be found here, although there are some exceptions as good houses near the best golf courses tend to fetch high prices.
North Berwick is also a coastal town with a long beach front, and on a warm summer evening (not that there are many of those in Scotland) makes for a pleasant stroll. There are also numerous small towns and villages nearby to choose from, and plenty of golf courses.
Lisa Green, Director of our North West office, commented: “I am not at all surprised that both Chester and Knutsford feature in this year’s results. The historic city of Chester has always been a great location for families, with a wide range of housing and excellent independent and state schools. More recently, demand has also been increasing for properties within the city walls themselves, where residents will soon be able to benefit from the new theatre opening this Spring.”
The buzzing market town of Knutsford was also a winner, with its independent shops and restaurants, as well as excellent transport links. It offers the best of both worlds with easy access to Manchester and a countryside lifestyle. Having the opportunity to walk, cycle or ride through Tatton Park on the edge of town is an added bonus.
Lisa continued, “I am more surprised that no North West towns outside Cheshire featured this year. There are many other towns such as those around the Ribble Valley in Lancashire or Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria that offer a similarly high quality of life.”
Central England & Home Counties
Stephen Wolfenden, Director of our Cotswolds & Oxfordshire offices, finds no surprise in the favourite places highlighted in the survey.
He knows that Oxford and Cheltenham continue to be the prime focus of searches to Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire for obvious reasons, and Amersham is clearly sought after, not only because it is a pretty market town, but it is increasingly becoming a very popular place to “escape” from London, whilst still retaining the capital’s transport links.
More of a surprise to many people will be the choice of Shipston upon Stour as the Midlands regional winner but, with Stephen’s local knowledge, he can understand why, as Shipston is a thriving market town with quality shops, food producers and restaurants. It’s just outside the traditional tourist hotspots and yet has many of the same attractions of beautiful Cotswold stone buildings, and beautiful countryside.
Shipston is literally on the edge of the Cotswolds, serving the nearby villages of Stourton, Sutton Under Brailes, Ilmington, and Darlingscott, and It really is one of the area’s best kept secrets.
Neil Billing, our property finder in Surrey & Kent, is very familiar with Cobham in Surrey, and thinks it has rightfully been chosen as one of the best places to live in the “Old Favourites” category of the Sunday Times “Best Places to Live Competition”.
Cobham nestles in beautiful Surrey countryside and on the picturesque River Mole, yet is virtually adjacent to a major hub of the UK Motorway network (The M25).
Though, for Neil, its nearby neighbour, Oxshott, could equally well have been chosen, as both villages are located in the often dubbed ‘Beverley Hills’ Borough of Elmbridge; though Oxshott would be considered the more ‘up market’ village.
Although not enjoying such close proximity to the M25, there are many more Surrey villages which share or have their own individual characteristics, which mark them as quality places to live and great places to look at when considering a move.
These villages, in some eyes, could equally be considered “Old Favourites,” such as East Horsley, near Leatherhead; sometimes referred to as England’s wealthiest village, or Brookwood near Woking, to name but two.
For Reg Parry, County Homesearch’s property expert for Devon and Cornwall, it is hardly surprising that Falmouth has been named as the best place to live in the South West.
Falmouth is a mecca for sailing, with nearby sailing clubs offering excellent facilities, including Mylor, which is just down the estuary and close to the world-famous Jamaica Inn.
All together Falmouth is a delightful town, with its fine Regency architecture; with a random mix of bohemian lifestyle and sea shanty charm.
Another winner in Reg’s area is Exeter. Close to two National Parks and sublime coastal scenery, Exeter is blessed. Throw in easy access via the M5 to the rest of the country, and quick rail links to London and elsewhere, it is becoming a very desirable place to live.
Exeter is also an established university city and, with its medieval and Georgian buildings, together with a new shopping centre, including a flagship John Lewis store, it exudes a relaxed affluence.
St. Leonards is considered the most desirable residential Exeter address with its leafy roads and collection of independent traders, whilst being within easy walking distance of the city centre. However, the district of Pennsylvania and Alphington on the edge of the city provide attractive alternatives.
With such a variety of well-deserved winners across the country, and everything from busy cities and bustling villages to the gorgeous views of the coastal towns and cities, choosing where to move to could be a very difficult decision indeed.
If you’re considering a change of scenery, why not contact your local County Homesearch property finder, and let us find your perfect home in your ideal location? Call us on 0333 939 8300 or visit www.county-homesearch.com.