Moving to Cornwall? 10 Tips From A Pro
Fancy upping sticks to live in your favourite holiday spot? Don’t hit the estate agents until you’ve read this
The high streets of Cornwall are jam-packed right now and one of the main pavement blockages is tourists gazing at the properties in estate agent windows.
Just like the Muddy clan, on holiday 5 years ago, they’re wondering if just maybe, they could make their lives work down here. There’s the sea, the landscape, the laidback lifestyle but can doing real life in Cornwall ever live up to the dream?
Someone who knows the journey better than most is Falmouth-based Property Search Agent Jayne Phillips-Choak, of Live Beside The Sea. Jayne moved to Cornwall 40 years ago and has helped countless others to make the move since. Plus she was recently named ‘Property Finder of the Year’ in national industry awards, so believe me, we’re in very good hands.
Here are her top tips for anyone thinking of heading west…
1) Decide on your priorities
Paint a mental picture of your new life, so you are really clear. What are your wants and needs?
Is it quiet, are you sitting in the garden with a book, will you stroll to the pub for a pint and some live music later? Do the kids go to a little village school? Will surfing or sailing be part of your life? Can you walk to a calm swimming spot?
Or do you want to be in amongst a bustling harbour town like Falmouth or pretty seaside village like St. Ives? Do you want a sense of community or are you happier being out in the countryside with no nearby neighbours?
The more you can imagine what your new life looks like, the easier finding your perfect spot will be.
2) Consider work carefully
If you need to work, ensure you either have a job to come to or enough spare money in the bank to see you through the first year. Salaries tend to be less than up country and well paid, skilled jobs can be hard to find.
Having said that some industries are thriving and people tend to be really entrepreneurial down here – if you’d like to start your own business, then a home office should be high on your wish list (or space to build one – see Garden Buildings Cornwall for some ideas).
If you need to travel for work, consider roads and transport links, like proximity to the A30, airport or train stations. You’re also likely to get more visitors if you are easier to reach!
3) Could you commute?
You may be fed up of the commute into London or other cities – earning a great salary but suffering with stress and anxiety, and wondering “is this it?”
Perhaps one partner has retired and is itching to move down west, but the other half is still a salary slave. With the Paddington-Penzance train, Gatwick-Newquay flights and the updated A30 arterial road, it is possible to keep your finger on the pulse at the office by working two or three days in the city and buying a house with a home office. So many people down here do just that.
4) Staying connected
If you work remotely you’re going to need a fast Internet connection. Most places in Cornwall are surprisingly good but if you land in a dead zone it could be a nightmare.
5) Is community important to you?
Your dream holiday destination may not be the perfect place to live full-time. Is there community and amenities out of season? Who lives there permanently? Are they people you’re likely to make friends and find things in common with?
Consider visiting out of season to see for yourself, as many seaside towns die a death in the winter and there is nothing more bleak than rain and shut shops.
6) Seek out up-and-coming areas (the ripple effect)
Some of the most popular Cornish holiday destinations have become prohibitively expensive but the outskirts and nearby villages are still accessible and offer much of the same appeal. If you like St Ives, consider Carbis Bay and Hayle; if you love Rock and Padstow, look at Mawgan Porth or further east to Port Isaac Bay.
If you really want to get a lot of property for your money in an area that’s on the up, my top tips are Hayle and Newlyn. Hayle because it has always been the poor relation to St. Ives and there is a big regeneration going on, with new marine-side houses and apartments in the pipeline and close to fabulous beaches. Newlyn because Mousehole has rocketed in price over recent years and Newlyn is still a working fishing village and has a great community. Ben Tunicliffe owns the local pub and an award-winning chef in an area is a sure sign it is on the up.
Consider Bude too. I recently relocated some clients from Connecticut whose wish list included being on the flat as they were keen runners – not easy in Cornwall! Being in their seventies and not knowing a soul down here, it was important for them to have an active community, as well as a beautiful sea view. Bude is like stepping back in time to how Cornwall was years ago, it even has a good old-fashioned department store! The canal path has been regenerated so was perfect for them to run for miles.
7) Holiday home V’s forever home
If it’s a holiday home you’re looking for but you plan to move down eventually, don’t try to buy something that works in both scenarios. For example, you may want a big garden in your forever home but in your holiday home, a large garden requires lots of maintenance you won’t be here to do.
You can either sell your holiday home and add the value to your permanent home or keep it for income in your retirement.
8) How remote is too remote?
A quaint Cornish village may seem like bliss but being near amenities is likely to make your life very much easier. Luckily you can have both if you look carefully. A property that I have just found for clients in Mawgan on the Lizard is a good example, it’s peaceful and quiet but has a village shop, gorgeous pub and great community. It’s also just 10-15 minutes from the amenities of Helston and the fab foodie scene at Porthleven, plus the beautiful beaches of Mullion and Poldhu.
9) Anticipate lots of guests!
If you have lots of friends and family up country, they will no doubt be looking forward to weekends in Cornwall once you move. Of course, you could send them up the road to the nearest B&B but if you like to host, consider the space you will need for a few extra bodies in the house. A spare room or two and a sociable dining space for example.
10) Get some expert help
Despite popular belief, you really cannot buy a house sitting at your kitchen table with a glass of wine! You would think it would be easy nowadays with the Internet and all the property portals but the opposite is true and it is completely overwhelming for many of us. Working with a property search agent can save so much time and stress.
My local and market knowledge means that all you have to do is let me know what your dream lifestyle is and I will do the rest. Your evenings and weekends will be your own again and you will generally only make one trip down to view 2 or 3 of the best houses that suit your needs, one of which will be ‘the one”! I will view several houses on your behalf and you will receive a comprehensive viewing report, pointing out all the negatives as well as the good.