A closer look at the property market and what it's like to live in Lymington
PUBLISHED: 10:53 14 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:53 14 April 2016
The rise and rise of the sailing resort, celebrated by Emma Caulton
Lymington offers the best of all worlds – coast and country and a city commute if necessary. No wonder this charming Georgian market town attracts those looking for the ideal work-life balance. There’s Southampton to the east, Bournemouth to the west, and you can be in London in two hours. That’s probably not the sort of journey you want to undertake every day, taking the branch line to Brockenhurst and then on to Waterloo, and back. However such reasonably easy access means Lymington can be the perfect spot for a second home for the London-based. For others, able to combine working from home regularly with commuting up to London two or three days a week, it makes the dream of a family home by the coast a possibility. Over the years I’ve met many who took the plunge and escaped to Lymington. For some it was largely about giving their children an idyllic childhood that’s all bracing sea air, crabbing, and splashing good fun at Lymington’s seawater baths - the oldest in the country.
For this is a busy, lively waterside. Indeed Lymington is dubbed the sailing capital of the UK. It has long attracted yachties. However, backed by the New Forest, nature’s adventure playground, Lymington not only offers activities for the watersports enthusiast, but there’s also vast tracts of heathland and woodland for walking, running, cycling and riding.
But inveterate urbanites don’t need to panic. Lymington has a vibrant townscape. This includes the colourful Saturday market that has everything from fishing tackle to fruit and veg. There are natty little boutiques such as Stanwell’s with cool London labels, traditional family-run stores, like Elliotts, and quality outdoorsy brands such as Musto and Quba to meet the needs of local sailors. Down cobbled Quay Hill, leading to Town Quay, are old-fashioned bucket and spade seaside shops and ice cream parlours. A burgeoning eating out scene includes The Elderflower, picked out for particular praise in this year’s Good Food Guide - the chef/proprietor is himself a London escapee, ex-Michelin-starred Club Gascon via Chewton Glen. Meanwhile Stanwell House Hotel recently revamped and reopened its restaurant as Burcher & Co, and is pulling in the locals. Other restaurants worthy of mention include well-established Egan’s, Lanes and La Vina for tapas, and there are a number of good cafes such as Maison Cuisine and the one in Willow, the interiors store.
Yet head off the High Street and you can quickly be on Town Quay watching ferries plying to and from the Isle of Wight, or strolling along the Solent Way, through Lymington and Keyhaven nature reserve, with views across salt marshes and mud flats.
All in all, it’s hardly surprising that Lymington is frequently included in those ‘best coastal towns to live in’ lists that appear regularly in the national press. In fact Lymington’s increasing popularity saw it earn a place in a Halifax survey last year among the top five most expensive coastal towns in the country, quoting an average house price of £404, 871 (and prices have risen since then).
So the town offers a sound investment. You can have your pick of preferred house style, too. There are rows of classic Georgian townhouses, traditional Victorian terraces and a smattering of thatch. New developments include Redrow’s Lymington Shores, dominating the edge of the Lymington River. It needs softening visually, but offers easy lock-up-and-leaves for second home owners. On a much smaller scale, local builder Pennyfarthing Homes are currently redeveloping the old timber yard as Renaissance Mews. This is bound to attract interest, particularly as it’s ‘South of the High Street’, long considered Lymington’s best address.
Schooling ticks the box for families: Lymington Infants School is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, both Lymington Junior School and Priestlands Secondary School are ‘good’ and Brockenhurst College is ‘outstanding’. There are also a number of highly regarded independent schools in the area.
So what’s the downside? Well, there’s not a huge amount culturally. Yes, there’s live music at a number of the local pubs and current films are shown at the community centre. Also St Barbe is a great local gallery and museum, evoking Lymington’s past as an important centre for the salt industry, ship building and smugglers... But otherwise you need to travel along the coast to the arts centre at New Milton or to Southampton with its (very good) selection of cinemas, theatres and music venues for a culture fix.
Otherwise retirees, families, yachties and even townies will find everything they need in Lymington for a relaxed and stylish life.
Agent talk - Rob Batten, Spencers New Forest
“One of our clients recently described Lymington as Richmond by the Sea. I think this is apt as it has the feel of the millionaire lifestyle with its waterside location, glossy yachts and impressive properties, as well as a High Street bustling with boutiques and cafes.
These clients had moved out of London to a family home in the New Forest some ten years previously and have now moved again, this time downsizing to Lymington. They are fairly typical of people moving into the area - people who move for the lifestyle, and stay.
Lymington is still a charming Georgian market town with a traditional street market every Saturday. It has attracted the sailing fraternity for decades with its deepwater marinas and access to the Solent. It also offers the best of both worlds with coast on one side and the New Forest on the other.
It particularly appeals to families as the schooling, both independent and state, is considered excellent, and the variety of outdoor activities available, including water sports, horse riding and cycling, enhances the quality of family life.
In terms of property, there is a wide range available including waterside apartments, Victorian cottages and large country houses. ‘South of the High Street’ continues to have cache, although Milford on Sea, just ten minutes drive west of Lymington, is also a bit of a local hot spot.”
• Best things about living in Lymington - From stories of smuggling and sea salt to summer sailing and superb shopping, Emma Caulton celebrates living the high life in the seaside town of Lymington