Top places to live in Hampshire & IOW Lymington
Perched between the forest and the sea, Lymington is the best of both worlds when it comes to countryside living. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
So-called ‘Richmond by the Sea’, Lymington is the perfect combo of coast and New Forest, with a focus on sailing, shopping and sipping drinks in the various top-notch restaurants and cafes. It may have a blue-rinse rep (about a third of the population is 65 and over), but families and ex-city slickers are reeled in by the area’s excellent schools and idyllic surroundings.
The New Forest has some of the best foodie credentials in the UK, and Lymington is no exception. Amble down to the marina for an al fresco seafood lunch at The Haven. For dinner (particularly for a special occasion), head to Michelin-recommended Elderflower in the middle of town to sample their British-French fusion menu. Just meeting for a coffee and cake? Get thee to The Larder off the High Street – a total hidden gem.
Lymington is smart and stylish, with a good mix of chains and indie boutiques, and plenty to keep the fash pack entertained. There are national stores likes Joules and Henri Lloyd for the yachtie set, as well as boutiques like Stanwells, which is a favourite of ours (we’re in good company, as Vogue, The Telegraph and Stella have all named it one of their top 50 boutiques), and Thirty-Three, a great pick for cherry-picked designer womenswear. Interiors addicts will love Scandi-chic lifestyle store Willow on the high street for a mix of furniture, lighting and decor, all with a British twist and the similarly covetable finds at BluBambu in Admirals Court. There’s also a traditional weekly market on the High Street, which was established back in 1250(!) and has been held every Saturday since.
Obviously having the New Forest National Park on your doorstep is a draw for any area, but water sports is where Lymington really excels (no surprise given its maritime history). There’s yachting courtesy of Sailing Spook or Escape Yachting, or kayaking with Lymington Kayaks. You can even hire a rib with your own private skipper from Solent Rib Charter. In the summer months, head to the country’s oldest open air lido Lymington Sea Water Baths for a splash about with the family (top tip: The Mayflower pub opposite is excellent for a post-swim slap-up lunch). After a spot of culture? The St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery was refurbed to tip-top condition around three years ago, and now hosts a rotation of art exhibitions.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
Property is in high demand here, with south of the High Street a particularly popular area with its Georgian buildings and sloping cobbled streets. Overall, the average property price is £468,202, with detached properties rising to an average of £658,827. Semi-detached average £329,936, while flats fetch £247,316. Local estate agents include Fells Gulliver, Spencers New Forest and John D Wood.
There are some excellent primaries and secondaries here, both state and independent. Particular mention goes to Durlston Court Prep, a nurturing non-selective co-ed for ages 2-13, and Walhampton School, a day and boarding prep and pre-prep that channels the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ experience. Nearby Ballard School in New Milton is just under a 20-minute drive away, and is an award-winning co-ed day school that takes children all the way from nursery to GCSEs.
BEST KEPT SECRET
The festival season! Lymington Stomp in June is a local arts, music and crafts festival held by the river with glamping and B&B options available; Lymington Italia Festival in July is a Ferrari-lover’s dream; and, our favourite, Lymington Seafood Festival takes place in August (two days of scoffing local artisan produce and drinks while listening to live music is a fabulous way to spend time, in our book.
Lymington to London Waterloo is doable with a change at Brockenhurst station, but at 90 minutes each way, it may not be everyone’s idea of a viable daily commute. Southampton and Bournemouth are both around 30-40 minutes away by train.
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