British people still dream of owning a home by the water

Having a home near water continues to be a dream for property owners in the UK with the latest research showing that 61% would like to do so in the future.

A home by the sea is the most popular with 62% wanting to live on the coast, 15% on the banks of a lake or loch and 4% by a canal, according to the 2017 waterside survey from Strutt & Parker.

The ultimate dream waterside home was a period cottage with 41% of respondents opting for this kind of property while 24% wanted to live in a modern or contemporary waterside home and 10% aspired to live in a penthouse flat overlooking the water.

When asked why they liked living on the water, or why they wanted to, some 58% said it would be for relaxation, 47% wanted the view, 41% better air quality, 29% thought it would improve their well-being, 23% wanted to watch wildlife and 18% wanted to take part in some kind of water spot such as surfing, swimming, fishing or sailing.

For 10% of respondents, living near the water was a lifelong dream, while 5% had returned to a childhood home, or were planning to. Local food and dining out was also an attraction for 7%.

‘It is hardly surprising that the waterside holds such a special place in the heart of the British homebuyer. The whole of the UK has amazing and picturesque beaches, rivers, lochs and lakes, offering views that can’t be matched elsewhere in the country,’ said Richard Speedy, head of Strutt & Parker’s waterside department.

‘Then there’s the lifestyle aspects, whether you’re a family wanting access to swathes of sandy beaches for walking the dog, are looking to do more fishing in your retirement, or want to buy that boat you’ve always promised yourself. Direct access to the water via a slipway, quay, running mooring or pontoon is important to many buyers, increasingly so at the top end of the market,’ he pointed out.

‘The wellness element of being by the water is key to a work/life balance and with more and more companies offering flexible working hours, the increase in good internet connectivity across the country has encouraged them to allow employees to work from home which often increases productivity due to the lack of commute and beautiful surroundings,’ he added.

‘I think the national waterside market will increase ahead of the national country market, over the next 12 months as more baby boomers opt to downsize or retire to waterfront locations,’ he concluded.

The survey also identified a link between wellness, or at the very least perceived wellness, and living on the water. 64% of people said that they thought people who lived near the water were generally happier than those who didn’t. Meanwhile, 56% of respondents said they believed people who lived by the water were both physically healthier and mentally healthier than those who did not.

Some 60% of those surveyed already owned or rented a home within three miles of water with 40% of these living next to a river, 29% by the seaside, 17% by a canal and 10% on a lake or loch.

For the vast majority of these waterside dwellers, 95%, this property was their primary home. For the remaining 5% for whom their waterside property was a secondary home, 53% used it as a private holiday home and 40% as a holiday let and nearly 8% specifically used Airbnb to rent their waterside home out to visitors.

The research also found that 44% felt that living near to water or having a second home near to waterside was an obtainable aim for them in the next five years. However 56% felt it wasn’t going to be possible for them to do so in that time scale. With 28% of those surveyed imagining that they would move to the waterside in six to 10 years, 12% felt that they would move much later in life, over 30 years’ time.

Some 34% of those already living on the coast worked from home and good public transport links were either important or very important for 53% of those surveyed who lived on the coast. When seaside dwellers were asked whether it was important to live in proximity to a major city such as London or Edinburgh, the vast majority felt this was important at 59%.