Imagine waking up every day to the sound of waves lapping gently. It need not be the stuff of dreams for whoever buys this crop of beauties on the market right now.

As far as dream house wish lists go, being close to water must teeter at the very top for a lot of prospective buyers – as well as for non-prospective serial visitors of Rightmove (who, us?). Proximity to the sea, lake or river does seem to bestow a sense of calm and, if your body of water is swimmable, then that’s most of the summer sorted. These houses and flats are all within spitting distance of beauty spots in which you may dangle your toes in fresh water. Dive in.

Salcombe, Devon

Knight Frank, £1.95m

This heavenly detached house is situated right on the water with views that stretch across the main anchorage towards East Portlemouth. As its name suggests, the Grade II-listed The Custom House was originally built as the customs and excise house for the town in the mid-19th century. Today, it has five bedrooms, wonderful period features and private parking for two cars or boat trailers. Frankly though, it’s all about those views and that balcony, upon which G&T hour would be a nightly necessity throughout summer. Find more details here.

The Old Granary, Woodbridge, Suffolk

The Modern House, £550,000

The beautiful riverside market town of Woodbridge in Suffolk is deservedly popular amongst those seeking a picturesque and pretty destination on the waterfront. And for anyone keen to lay down roots – whether permanent or for weekend purposes – this Grade II-listed newly renovated apartment in a converted granary could scarcely be more perfect. With sweeping views of bobbing boats and yachts stretching out across the River Deben, its interior is as fresh and simple as a daisy. White-washed timber-clad walls give a maritime feel without ever spilling into nautical kitsch, and the views are spectacular, reaching over all the way to Sutton Hoo. Find more details here.

Hawley Square, Margate

Inigo, £850,000

Margate’s popularity has risen exponentially in the last decade. As London finally priced out many of its artists, they, in turn, decided that, little by little, they would decamp to the seaside. And who could blame them? One such creative is evidently behind this house which, whilst quite not a steal, still costs significantly less than a Georgian townhouse in a Conservation Area of the capital would do. Renovated simply, with reinstated period features, it was built in the 1860s and stretches across 2,600sqft.

Inigo explains its history thus: ‘It has had many lives and uses over the years. In 1840, it was occupied by a blacksmith named John Sitpard Witherden, who likely operated from a shed at the rear of the garden. It is thought that he invested in changes to the building to accommodate access for horses and other traders in order to facilitate more trade. Then came a variety of occupiers, from a cabinetmaker to an auctioneer. In 1907 it became the headquarters of the 4th Battalion of the Buffs (East Kent Regiment). It is likely that they updated the building’s appearance to its present-day aspect, transforming the traditional Georgian façade into the rusticated stonework and metal gates we see now. The building remained in military use until the 1970s, when Thanet District Council moved in.’

It has three bedrooms, a cellar and roof terrace – and, most importantly of all, is a short walk to the sea. Perfect. Find out more here.

St Ives

Knight Frank, £930,000

You don’t get much closer to the sea than this apartment in St Ives. Right on the waterfront at Porthmeor Beach in the heart of St Ives, the ground-floor flat has one bedroom and private parking – but the lure of it is all in that window. No wonder the artists who flock to St Ives have traditionally found such creative stimulus here – we could sit and gaze for hours. Now, where are our brushes? Find out more here.


Brand Vaughan, £1.5m

Regency houses abound in Brighton, former play town of the Prince Regent. Few, though, are as impeccable as this. Built in 1818, Regency Square has been a famous landmark ever since and is inarguably one of the finest garden squares anywhere. It is rare that whole houses come up for sale on it; this one comes with four bedrooms, so anyone wishing to snap up a slice of architectural history, all within a few moments’ walk from the sea front, should be quick off the mark. Find out more here.

Barnaby Green, Southwold

Winkworth, £1.5m

For those who love it, Southwold in the summer can feel like the centre of the world, as people decamp en masse to swim in the waters and frequent the excellent Adnams pubs. If you want to own a slice of it, this house could make a spectacular family home. Just a meander to the sea front, it has five/six bedrooms, two garden areas, a resistance pool and even a tower room with a balcony. Heaven. Find out more here.

Weybourne, Norfolk

Big Skies, £650,000

We will never not feel enamoured of North Norfolk’s proliferation of flint cottages and converted barns, nor of its big skies and coastal views that stretch for miles and miles. The coastal villages and towns are, without exception, a delight, and Weybourne, though small, is no exception. Happily, this property ticks both the flint and the barn boxes. Inside, there are four bedrooms, exposed roof trusses and a lovely courtyard garden for lunches and suppers al fresco – at least on those days you’re not picnicking on the beach, which is just a saunter down the lane. Find out more here.

Deal, Kent

Strutt & Parker, £1.15m

Who could resist this house? It is spacious, it is light, and it is grand without being overbearing. Immaculately decorated, it has a glorious garden and a balcony overlooking the twinkling sea upon which yachts bob enchantingly. There are four bedrooms, five reception rooms, a roof terrace, a garage and a brick outbuilding. The only question we have is: when can we move in? A truly special house. Find out more here.

Whitby, Yorkshire

Henderson Property, £235,000

Whitby is beloved for its glorious views and its higgeldy-piggeldy streets. Found tucked away down one its many yards is The Cottage, a beautiful Grade II-listed house packed full of character and period features. Built in 1750, its exposed beams and sash windows speak of old-world charm – and it could scarcely be closer to the water’s edge. Can you resist? Find out more here.

Port Isaac, Cornwall

Estuary Estates, £1,75m

The views over Port Isaac are so spectacular that to trip down its pathways, you feel as though you might be walking straight into a classic St Ives set painting. This Victorian property represents a wonderful opportunity for the right buyer. Meticulously renovated throughout, it has some five bedrooms and four bathrooms, making it ideal for a family – while on the ground level there are two commercial units. It is currently operational as a successful B&B but could equally be converted to a fully residential property – and all amidst the breath-taking beauty of Port Isaac. Tempted? Find out more here.

Dale, Pembrokeshire

Purple Bricks, £995,000

Ever fancied life in a lighthouse? This insanely romantic idea could become a reality for whoever goes for this historic example in St Anne’s Head. Right on the cliffs, it has eight bedrooms, uninterrupted views of the sea (somewhat obviously given its purpose) and is in great nick throughout. Plus, well, it’s a lighthouse… Find out more here.

By Nancy Alsop
July 2021

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.