Coastal commuter towns: five hipster-friendly seaside spots for London leavers looking for work-life balance

Within 90 minutes of London, you can find sea, sand (or even pebbles), and the occasional sun. The pandemic has allowed many Londoners to work from home for at least part of the day. This stretch of coastline has become popular with artists and creatives. These yuppies who have an edge need to find a home, but still want the comforts of London, there are many options. These five towns are all within easy reach of London for office-bound workers. For a Regency house with a view of the sea on The Paragon, or Royal Parade, you would need to spend close to GBP1million, and for a two-bedroom apartment, around GBP700,000. The prices drop dramatically away from the seafront — approximately GBP425,000 to GBP475,000 could buy a Victorian townhouse east the town centre, while a GBP200,000 for a two-bedroom apartment would cost. This town, while not as smug and charming as Broadstairs is a great place to relax on the beach, shop at the excellent collection of antique shops, or ride the Viking Coastal Trail. Emma Jane Palin, a blogger and interiors stylist, bought Ramsgate almost a whole year ago with Josh, a musician who also works in Forts in Margate. Prior to that, the couple had lived in Margate after moving from London. She says, “We moved to Ramsgate to be able to afford to buy here.” “Margate has become a lot more expensive over the past few years. Ramsgate is still quiet and retains a community feel. “Palin recommends a stroll down Addington Street. She loves Potters for interiors shopping and Positive Retail for pre-loved, luxury fashion. Vinyl Head is her favorite for records. Union is a cafe and yoga shop. Folkestone’s West End has been the alpha address for many years. It is home to beautiful Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian houses. Claire Reene, Bairstow Eves branch manager, said that a two-bedroom apartment in this area will cost around GBP300,000. A four-bedroom house could be purchased for GBP600,000. Reene suggests looking east around the Harbour Arm. This area has become more popular due to the redevelopment of the area with bars and restaurants. A two-bedroom flat in this area would cost around GBP200,000, while a four-bedroom house would cost about GBP400,000. The commute to St Pancras International takes just under an hour. London Bridge services take approximately an hour and a quarter. Catherine and Gary Nice in their Folkestone home. Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures LtdWhat’s not to love? Catherine Nice moved to Folkestone with her husband Gary and their two children, Jude, 11 and Ruby, 8. Nice, 41, is a designer of print products for her homeware brand Kitty McCall. Gary, 44, is currently setting up a bespoke agency for recruitment. Nice has lived in various parts of south and south-east London including West Dulwich. Nice felt the need to be closer to her parents in 2014 and so she and her family moved to Leighton Buzzard. Although she liked the town, it didn’t feel right. Her parents then announced that they would be moving to Folkestone. She said, “We came down to take a look. I was blown away by the sea, the feeling of community and what they were trying do with the regeneration.” Drinks on the harbour arm / Alamy Stock PhotoAn year later, the family was living along the south coast. “When we first moved down there were only a few restaurants. You now have The Folkestone Wine Company, which is what I love, Pick Up Pintxos, and Harbour Arm, which is great in summer because it has live entertainment and lots of street food vendors. “A new creative quarter was established by Roger De Haan, who invested millions in his hometown, which is now full of public art, by the likes of Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin, and hosts the Folkestone Triennial.Leigh-on-Sea, EssexGeorgie Perkins / Adrian LourieHow much will it cost? Mark Newman, director at Winkworth estate agents, advises that buyers looking for a Leigh-on-Sea home should budget between GBP350,000 and GBP600,000. For a terrace with three beds, he suggests that a budget of around GBP550,000 to GBP600,000. Buyers with smaller budgets might consider Westcliff-on-Sea, which is more popular due to its affordability — but it is not as trendy as Leigh. A three-bed house could be yours for as little as GBP500,000. Georgie Perkins, originally from Hertfordshire, moved to Leigh-on-Sea four years ago. Leigh-on-Sea by Adrian Lourie The couple has a six-year old son, Evan, as well as a dog, Buddy. They love to spend time on the beach. She says, “It’s one of the longest beaches in the country, one just continues on to the next. So it is great for walking.” Eastbourne, East SussexThe Towner Gallery, Eastbourne / Alamy Stock PhotoHow Much? Meads is west of the town’s centre, near the South Downs, and the seafront. This is the most expensive part of town. Stephen Rodgers is the senior branch manager at Fox & Sons. He estimates that a two-bedroom flat would cost around GBP280,000 to GBP300,000. A three-bedroom terrace would cost around GBP500,000. For a more economical option, you can look east towards Redoubt where you can find a two bedroom flat for GBP180,000 to GBP200,000 or a Victorian cottage for GBP250,000 – GBP280,000. Rodgers says that there are many great properties available in the London and Brighton markets. You can also find a two-bedroom Victorian cottage for as low as GBP250,000 to GBP280,000. Levels Wine has wines on tap, including local options. There’s also craft beer at Bottle Grove and small plates at Cru. Hotel Port’s restaurant is another popular spot for local produce. You will find record shops in Little Chelsea, as well as cafes, delis, and boutiques. Towner, an American architect Rick Mather’s gallery, is the jewel in Eastbourne. Towner, an American architect Rick Mather’s gallery, is the crown jewel of Eastbourne. The tranquil East Mersea has many detached houses with large gardens and a price tag of more than GBP1million. A detached, three-bedroom house with three bedrooms could be yours for as low as GBP525,000 to GBP600,000. Or you could find a weatherboarded cottage for as low at GBP450,000. There aren’t many flats available on the island, but you might be able to find one of the weatherboarded cottages for GBP450,000. It’s only 10 miles from Colchester, which you would not believe. You will feel as though you are on another planet the moment you cross the ancient causeway that divides island and mainland. Although island life is peaceful, it’s all about long walks, sailing and playing on the beaches. There are plenty of things to do. The Company Shed is a great seafood restaurant, Mersea Barns has a Sunday roast, while there are three pubs. Sometimes the causeway floods during high water and you are left alone on the island. Unfortunately, this beautiful isolation only lasts for about 90 minutes. Mersea is quiet in winter but bustling during summer holidays. This is not the place to look for a cutesy thatched cottage, as most of the houses were built after the Sixties. This is how we found our first rental house. They are also very active in the community and provide information about events and news. After a weekend of fun at the beach in the summer, people move on a whim. Mid-winter is a different time. If you can, go to local events on your own. Many shops will host events and it’s a great way to make new friends. I’ve been to coffee with people I know through Instagram. Don’t tell others how much you have to spend. Renters in London will often say they have a budget of GBP1,300 for a 2-bed, when it should be enough to buy a 5-bedroom house. By Emma Jane Palin