Oh, we do like to buy beside the seaside...

Coastal resorts
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The Independent Online

Glorious views, fresh air and a relaxing environment are all attractions of living in a British seaside town. But increasingly they come at a price, as properties in coastal towns have rocketed in value.

Leading the charge has been Padstow in Cornwall. Made fashionable by the TV chef and restaurateur Rick Stein, house prices in the town have risen by 144 per cent in the past three years, according to research from Halifax Estate Agents.

This makes Padstow the fifth most expensive seaside town in England and Wales, although it still languishes well behind Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset, home to footballer Jamie Redknapp and his pop star wife Louise. The average property price here is £386,140, compared with a national average of £154,299, based on figures from Nationwide building society.

"Homeowners are clearly prepared to pay a premium for living beside the sea," says Jane Pridgeon, managing director of Halifax Estate Agents. "The most expensive seaside towns are in the South-west, but locations in Wales and Yorkshire are recording significant price increases as well."

The value of Louise and Phillip Goodacre's six-bedroom guesthouse in Southwold, Suffolk, has rocketed since they bought it four years ago. Their property enjoys stunning views of the sea, and business is thriving: they are fully booked virtually all year round.

But one of the problems of living in a desirable setting is that so many other people want to live there too.

"It is a wonderful place but half the houses in the town are second homes," explains Mr Goodacre. "Young people who grow up here and want to buy here simply can't afford to. There is no low-priced housing."

A two-bedroom property in the town starts at around £300,000, while there are plenty of houses in the £1m-plus bracket. Even the colourful beach huts on the seafront sell for around £40,000 to £50,000.

Since so many properties are second homes, the town is extremely quiet during the week and in the winter. The lack of local residents means the Goodacres find it very hard to get staff to help them run their guesthouse.

Property prices in 16 of the seaside towns surveyed by the Halifax have at least doubled since 2001. Some of the UK's most upwardly mobile resorts are in Wales, where Cardigan is up 126 per cent, Pwllheli 101 per cent, Llandudno and Mumbles 100 per cent and Prestatyn 97 per cent. The 10 most expensive seaside towns are all in southern England, however (see the table above).

People looking for a weekend retreat or wanting to relocate from the cities have put homes in these towns beyond the reach of many locals. But for those prepared to be flexible about where they live, there are still affordable resorts to be found.

The North-west and North-east offer many of the cheapest sea views in the UK. Those on a budget should head for Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, where the average price is £69,390. Other places to consider in Cumbria are Maryport (£73,991), Workington (£81,746) and Whitehaven (£85,566).

But if you want to live in the warmer South, there are still relatively cheap areas to be found. Sandbanks might be beyond your price range, but Plymouth, with an average property fetching £134,556, might fit the bill.

TOP 10 HOTSPOTS

Average house prices for second quarter of this year

Sandbanks, Dorset £386,140

St Mawes, Cornwall £285,604

Lymington, Hants £285,297

Fowey, Cornwall £268,212

Padstow, Cornwall£267,445

Budleigh Salterton, Devon £265,889

Sidmouth, Devon £265,055

Lyme Regis, Dorset £241,739

Christchurch, Dorset £241,590

Swanage, Dorset £238,377

Source: Halifax Estate Agents

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