Always a nice place to visit, the Victorian seaside town of Llandudno plays host each summer to a great many tourists who often return for good. "Our buyers usually have some connection with Llandudno," says estate agent Janet Poole. "They may have been born here and left for work, or they visited as kids. It is like a piece of elastic. They come back to north Wales."
Long a haven for retirees, Llandudno is now luring young families: "We are getting buyers from Liverpool, Manchester and Chester who want a better way of life," adds Poole. "Our schools are very good, we are relatively free from crime, and the commute is quite an easy journey on the A55 dual carriageway and the motorways beyond."
The amenities that lure summer vacationers to Wales's largest resort also attract permanent residents. "This is a nice area, with beaches, castles, stately homes, mountains and lakes all within a short distance," says Poole. With its castle and town walls, Conwy is only four miles away.
Towering over everything is Great Orme, an ancient 680ft high cliff with a copper mine once worked by Bronze Age settlers. At the turn of the century, a cable tramway was built to cater for more recent occupants and a Cabin Lift was added in 1969. There are plenty of Edwardian and Victorian properties, which bear witness to Llandudno's history as a well-established resort: the family of Alice Liddell, the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, had a holiday home here.
Property prices, which have been rising comfortably in recent years, "have now levelled off, although the market is still active," says Poole. "But high prices are making it difficult for first-time buyers, who are renting instead." Sellers at the top end are not having it entirely their way either. Marine Drive on Great Orme enjoys the best of both hilly worlds, with homes high enough to provide panoramic views and low enough to allow beach access.
One of the less than a dozen properties on Llandudno's "Millionaire's Row," Plas Craig, has been on the market for several months. Jackson-Stops estate agent Graham Adnitt says that "houses on Marine Drive have achieved £1m, and a buyer for Plas Craig was very keen but the sale fell through." Originally seeking more than £900,000, the price tag now reads £850,000.
Also for sale (at around £575,000) is an area landmark, the historic lighthouse which permanently shut off its lamps in 1985 and subsequently became a bed and breakfast. This castle-like structure sits atop a cliff, with a sheer drop to the sea. The room from which the majestic light used to shine is now the living room.
Liverpool, Manchester and London are 65, 84 and 245 miles respectively. The scenic Conwy Valley Line links Llandudno with Blaenau Ffestiniog, via Snowdonia National Park.
The main commercial centre in North Wales, Llandudno's Victoria Centre, Champney's Retail Park and Craig-y-Don have major supermarkets, national chains, and independent retailers. The nearest department stores and major shopping are in Chester, 48 miles away.
Sports and fitness
Conwy Council's leisure centre has a swimming pool with chutes, health and fitness suite, tennis and squash courts, and a floodlit athletics stadium. Swimming pools, climbing walls and fitness suites are available in other centres in Llandudno and Llanrwst. Great Orme has a 300m dry ski slope and toboggan run. This is used yearly as the location for the annual Artificial Ski Championships.
Arts and entertainment
Llandudno has a nine-screen multiplex cinema and the North Wales Theatre, which hosts plays, ballet and concerts, the latter ranging from one-man shows to performances by the Welsh National Opera. The Oriel Mostyn art gallery is in Llandudno, and the Royal Cumbrian Academy is in Conwy.
The Great Orme tram operates from March through to November. Museums and exhibits in the area include the Bronze Age Copper Mines, Llandudno Museum, Aberconwy House Museum (a 14th-century merchant's house with period furniture in Conwy), Teapot World and Conwy Mussel Centre.
One-bed flats start at about £50,000, and small terraced houses at £80,000. Three-bed family homes start at less than £100,000.
Bryan Davies has a three-bed, mid-terrace, ex-council house, £71,950, and a two-bed, detached property with sunroom, at £125,950, one mile from the town centre. A one-bed, ground-floor conversion flat slightly nearer the centre is £74,500. At Dafydd Hardy, is a two-bed, stone, mid-terrace with sea views in Penmaenmawr, Conwy, at £79,500.
A fourth-floor, two-bedroom flat spanning the entire frontage of a large block on the Promenade, is £225,000 at Bryan Davies.
A three-bed flat with shared porch in a quintessential Victorian seaside building with turret, one mile from Llandudno, £149,999 at Fletcher Poole.
Town vs country
A three-bed bungalow in Llandudno has a garage, conservatory and mature gardens on a half acre, £285,000. An additional £10,000 buys a similar property but on a plot four times larger (two acres) in Llysfaen, enough land for a paddock, stables, detached double garage and outbuildings, at Fletcher Poole.
The Manor House has six bedrooms (one the ensuite master bedroom with dressing room), 24ft lounge, 25ft kitchen, on four acres, with a private drive and a double garage, £695,000. In Betws Y Coed an eight-bedroom, three-reception house on 2.5 acres costs £499,950. Through Dafydd Hardy.
Bryan Davies, 01492 875125; Dafydd Hardy, 01492 871800; Jackson-Stops, 01244 328361; Fletcher Poole (Colwyn Bay), 01492 540940.Reuse content