Best things about living on the Hampshire coast

Hill Head beach is popular for watersports

Hill Head beach is popular for watersports - Credit: Emma Caulton

From marinas and ports to harboursides and cobbled streets, there’s so much to enjoy about living on Hampshire’s coastline says Emma Caulton

Hampshire is not known as a seaside holiday destination. Its neighbours, Sussex and Dorset, grab such accolades with Bournemouth’s golden sands to the west and the dune-backed beaches of the Witterings to the east.

But what Hampshire lacks in sandy beach, it more than makes up for with a varied and vibrant coastline. Much of the on-water activity is due to the ports of Portsmouth and Southampton, busy with the to-ings and fro-ings of ferries and container ships, plus the area is renowned for watersports with the National Watersports Festival (kayaking to kite-surfing) held on Hayling Island on September 5-7.

However, it is perhaps Hampshire’s worldwide reputation for boat-building and sailing that has particularly influenced the coastline’s development. There’s a plethora of marinas and sailing villages and towns for yachties, and landlubbers who hanker after a watery view. The obvious hot spots include Bursledon, Hamble and Lymington. But there are also the modern purpose-built marina villages of waterside ‘townhouses’ and apartments (some with moorings) of Hythe Marina (the first marina village on the south coast), Ocean Village Marina in Southampton, and Port Solent just outside Portsmouth. Add into Hampshire’s waterside mix of natural harbours with sheltered fishing villages, islands and beach hut-lined shingle beaches and most hunting a home by the water will find somewhere that suits their needs.

From east to west, Hampshire’s coastal catch starts with Emsworth, a picturesque old fishing village with good amenities including some great restaurants. Then there’s Hayling Island which offers good value property, long stretches of beach, and old-fashioned charm alongside its more recent reputation for watersports. Getting on and off the Island at peak times can be trying, although slightly assuaged by the lovely views of Langstone Harbour and its waterside pubs. But if you live on Hayling and work in Portsmouth you could always commute via the ferry service which plies between the two.

Next along is the island city of Portsmouth which includes Gunwarf Quays and Southsea. Southsea is the closest Hampshire gets to the elegant Victorian resorts of Sussex with its pier, promenade, gardens and handsome townhouses. Old Portsmouth is quaint and Dickensian with character properties, and contrasts with Gunwharf Quays, originally established as a harbourside shopping destination but becoming increasingly popular as a residential area with its high-rise waterside apartments.

Continuing west Lee-on-the-Solent offers long stretches of shingle beach with views across to the Isle of Wight. It’s not pretty, but has some good neighbourhood shops and reasonable house prices. It doesn’t have the cachet of neighbouring Hill Head, which is pricier with big houses on the seafront. Hill Head beach is popular with watersports enthusiasts; there always seems to be numerous windsurfers and kitesurfers scudding the waves.

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Further west and you’re into serious yachting territory with impressive houses and river views: Warsash, Hamble and Bursledon. If you don’t have the money, but love the area, try neighbouring Netley with Royal Victoria Country Park abutting a shoreline that narrows as it approaches Southampton.

If you want to mix countryside with waterside experience, head across Southampton Water to Hythe, perfectly positioned on the water with the New Forest’s acres of heathland and woodland behind it. And there’s a handy passenger ferry between Hythe and Southampton for commuters.

On the southern edge of the Forest is surely the UK’s sailing capital, Lymington, with its Georgian high street, lido, and range of eateries. Continue west to discover the quiet delights of Keyhaven, an old fishing village sheltered by Hurst spit, Milford on Sea, a lovely village with a green and a good range of shops that’s becoming known as a bit of a foodie destination; and then beyond here is Barton on Sea - its quiet tree-lined roads of bungalows appealing to retirees countrywide.

So whether looking for a second home, a place to retire to or somewhere to bring the family; Hampshire’s coast has it all.

Agent talk - John Corrie from Henry Adams

“Coastal living is all about lifestyle, and has many attractions for all ages. Whether it’s rekindling fun times from childhood holidays, being in touch with the elements or just getting away from it all; it’s all about the experience.

Coastal property is a niche market and, apart from some limited development and re-development, the supply of property remains fairly static. As economic conditions have improved so has demand as more buyers seek their next home by the coast.

A developing trend is buyers purchasing a waterside holiday home and wanting a return on their investment. There is a premium for sea views and while dependent upon factors such as location and property, prime waterfront properties can command 50 per cent more than comparable inland properties.

Character harbour areas that offer a range of vibrant local shops, pubs and restaurants continue to attract home buyers. Popular choices around the Solent area include Emsworth, Lymington, Gunwharf Quays, Hayling Island, Gosport, Hythe and Hamble.

The most sought after property must have sea views and, ideally, direct access to the beach. Some beaches prove popular with visitors, holidaymakers and dog walkers, and so a compromise on privacy is inevitable. Concerns on flooding, especially after the past winter storms will also be high on most buyers’ checklist; and the Environment Agency website provides useful information on areas at risk.

Despite concerns from flooding and erosion, the lure of a coastal lifestyle endures and from my experience, buyers usually settle quickly into their new life by the sea and are very reluctant to leave.”

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