Why Londoners are heading south to Brighton, the commuter-friendly city by the sea

Lifestyle matters most to the young Londoners who are leaving the capital for the coast and Brighton and Hove are topping their wish lists.
Click to follow

What was once a steady trickle of Londoners moving to the south coast has turned into a flood — with up to 40 per cent of homes sold in Brighton bought by exiles from the capital.

A recent Land Registry study found the city by the sea is also one of the most popular areas for young professionals to buy. The only other non-London location to make it to the top of young buyers’ wish lists is neighbouring Hove.

This inflow is pushing up prices. According to the registry’s latest house price index, Brighton and Hove values rose 9.8 per cent in the last year, to an average £249,035, making it the strongest performing region in the South-East outside London.

Brighton and Hove are very commuter-friendly, with journeys set to become more comfortable thanks to the Thameslink line upgrade. And the lifestyle is great, whether you love rambling on the South Downs or raving the night away in a beachside club.


The best area to find stunning white stucco houses is east of the town centre, in Kemp Town. The finest are in Sussex Square and neighbouring Lewes Crescent, Arundel Place and Terrace, and Chichester Terrace. Not only are these the oldest houses in the area and Grade I listed but residents share a lovely six-acre private park, seconds from the sea.
This is one of the most chichi parts of town and prices are steep, from £1.9 million to £4 million for a townhouse, and from £800,000 to £1 million for a two-bedroom flat with sea views. Tina Templeman, branch manager at Mishon Mackay estate agents, says around 40 per cent of her buyers are from London, attracted to Kemp Town by its schools. St Luke’s Primary School and Dorothy Stringer High School are both judged “outstanding” by Ofsted.


£500,000: a two-bedroom flat in stuccoed Sussex Square, through Brand Vaughan

It is close to the city centre but Templeman feels residents have all they need on their doorstep. “There are lovely restaurants and bars in what we call Kemp Town village, and brilliant antiques shops,” she says.
If Sussex Square is out of your price range, homes on the seafront are cheaper. You could pick up a two-bedroom flat from £275,000, but be warned that homes facing the sea suffer a certain amount of wear and tear, and Templeman says the council expects residents to keep them well maintained — which means regular bills that could run into several thousands of pounds depending on the size of the property.

Winding northwards towards Sussex University, Lewes Road is a happily haphazard mixture of junk shops and old fashioned barbers’ stores, a world away from what critics feel is an overly Disney-fied centre of Brighton, now light years away from the city’s bohemian roots.
Off Lewes Road are streets of affordable Victorian houses, well positioned for both central Brighton and the station, and some prettied up with jolly, candy-coloured exterior paint jobs. Paul Bonett, director of Bonett’s estate agents, recommends this area for buyers on a budget. He suggests they could pick up a two-bedroom flat from £200,000, a two- to three-bedroom terrace house for around £325,000, or a four-bedroom house for about £500,000.
“It is a very good, lively area,” says Bonett, who estimates a third of his buyers are Londoners. “There are independent shops and it has a properly Brighton feel. People are friendly and you feel you are in a real community. Lewes Road is not gentrified, and I mean that in a good way.”
Proximity to the university gives this area a youthful buzz, and it has green space in the form of The Level, a city park decorated with pavilions, bridges, pergolas and columns, and recently renovated by the local council. There are plenty of neighbourhood pubs, and local schools include Elm Grove Primary, rated “good” by Ofsted.
High on the hillside beyond Brighton Marina, postwar homes are being torn down and replaced with the kind of huge, white-stucco-and-acres-of-glass-style properties more usually seen in Sandbanks, Dorset.
Buyers come to Roedean for its quiet atmosphere, spacious houses, and great views. This is the place to come if you desire a modern house with all the bells and whistles. You could buy an unmodernised, five-bedroom Eighties house with sea views for about £950,000 but if you want the “after” version, expect to pay £1.5 million-plus for a 4,000sq ft house or north of £2 million for a 5,000sq ft monster with a leisure complex and half an acre of garden.

Roedean, about three miles from central Brighton and the station, has no local facilities to speak of, other than the eponymous girls’ school and East Brighton Park. But nearby Brighton Marina has restaurants, while the beach is only a short walk away. “People come here for the big houses and sea views because there aren’t many other places in Brighton where you can find them,” says Emma Bailey, manager of Winkworth estate agents.

READ MORE: Brighton's affordable homes



Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty, Facebook and Instagram