Londoner Stuart Maister admits he’s a cliché of being locked up. Until Covid-19 arrived, he had no plans to leave Crouch End in north London, where he had been for 25 years. But he finds the closure in the city stifling and moves to Brighton, in East Sussex, where he has undertaken sea swimming and beach volleyball.
“I just had to be at sea,” says Maister, 60, who is co-manager of Mutual Value, a business consultant. “Brighton came to mind – I did not consider anywhere else – and I retired in January.” While renting a two-bedroom beachfront apartment in Kemptown, he bought an apartment on Airbnb. ‘Many of my friends from [London] follow it, ”he says.
Brighton & Hove, which consists of two bathrooms at the Regency that merged in 1997 and gained city status four years later, is probably more related to the capital than anywhere else on the south coast: a creative and liberal city with ‘ a strong technology and student group.
According to Paul Taggart of Hamptons’ office in Brighton, the agency’s database of buyers from London has quadrupled since the pandemic began. “Many people have realized that they do not have to be in the capital now and will continue to work remotely,” he says.
Everyone who is hastily recalled to their workplace in London faces an average train journey of 1 hour 20 hours – for Maister it is usually a journey of two hours to city meetings.
Imran Hassan has been looking for a four-bedroom family home for a year (with a budget of £ 850,000 to £ 1.5m), although moving to Brighton from a town in the West Midlands is a gear change, not off. not. He and his wife Emma run the baby clothing business Lilly & Sid and want to live somewhere with more energy, now their oldest child has gone to university.
Their focus was Kemptown, the area between Brighton Palace Pier and the marina, which is full of eclectic cafes, bars and antique shops; and around Queens Park, an attractive public garden surrounded by Victorian villas.
“We’ve been surpassed twice, it’s definitely a seller’s market,” said the 48-year-old. “But as a mixed couple, we like the open feel of the city.”
Ivan Caglione, 36, who moved from Milan to Regency Square in central Brighton nine years ago, also praises the variety and inclusivity. ‘It has a bit of everything: I’m going to Kemptown for a lively night, the Lanes [a warren of narrow streets filled with boutiques, antique shops and tea rooms] for a classic Brighton, or Hove for a quiet Sunday. “
Access to independent schools – Roedean School, Brighton College, Brighton Girls and Lancing College – often determines where families look for homes, Taggart says.
The coastal area around the Russian secondary girls’ school in the east of the city offers houses on large plots. “Most properties are detached, some may need work, but it can cost £ 2 million,” says Taggart, although you can find homes for only £ 700,000.
An Art Deco-style property in the area, built in 2013, is currently being sold for £ 4 million, making it the most expensive home on the market. “This could beat Brighton’s previous £ 3.4m sales record,” said David Vaughan of Brand Vaughan, the listing agency.
Large houses on spacious plots also make Withdean, north-west of central Brighton, popular with families — but those for whom the proximity of Brighton Station is more important may prefer the attractive Regency terraces and villas around the Queens Park or Montpelier and Clifton Hill.
Nearby Seven Dials is a bit of a hipster, while Fiveways is popular for its town with coffee shops and cafes, including a branch of the Brighton chain, the Flour Pot Bakery-with three-bedroom Edwardian cottages from £ 700,000 to £ 900,000.
In the suburb of Hanover, Aless Baylis and her partner bought one of the brightly colored Victorian cottages for which the area is famous, after leaving east London seven years ago. “I love the family-friendly atmosphere and I was just a 10-minute walk from all the independent shops and galleries off the Lanes,” says Baylis, 37, a former illustrator who founded Pim Pam, a reusable diaper company, last year. it and children one and three years old. “We have three excellent state elementary schools within walking distance.”
She originally wanted to move to Hove, but its price was expensive. Affordability is a big issue – and we could not afford to buy our house now as it has increased by more than £ 100,000 [the three years since they bought it], “she says.” I have friends who are teachers or other professionals who have to move to the suburbs to afford a three-bedroom house for their £ 400,000- £ 475,000 budget to areas like Hollingdean, “she adds.
Brighton has been relatively robbed of large new buildings, but in this area north of Brighton a £ 150 million refurbishment of the former Preston Barracks site at Moulsecoomb Optivo’s Home X will include a scheme of 369 new homes with affordable housing and options for shared ownership. , prices from £ 285,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. It contains the new University of Brighton campus and student accommodation.
In Hove, a small portion of the properties on the beach along the Western Esplanade are known as the “millionaires” of the area. The area is usually favored by families because it offers a greater choice of homes with large-sized gardens, says Toby Powell of real estate agency Winkworth. Hove Park and the three Pembroke roads are excellent places for their Victorian housing stock, and “Poet’s Corner”, a bag of roads named after famous bards, is extremely popular.
‘A month ago we sold a three-bedroom house in Byron Street for just under £ 600,000 after looking all day. It went to a Brighton family, but the view was split 50/50 between residents and Londoners.
In recent years, real estate investors have been tempted to rent their homes on the short-term rental market, rather than for long-term tenants, Powell says. However, numbers were hit by the pandemic. According to AirDNA, which tracks the short-term rental market, the number of properties listed on Airbnb dropped from 2,888 in August 2019 to 2,225 in August 2021. Among the new listings added this year are Maister’s, a two-bedroom meews cottage he will live in during the winters.
Some hosts have had to adjust since the pandemic, says Kelly Scales, founder of Airhost For You, a company that manages short-term rental properties. ‘When tourists stopped arriving, a number of apartments were used either by key workers [for self-isolating] or booked for much longer periods by people renting here to buy. Yet large properties popular for large family gatherings, corporate stories or party parties have long been vacant. “International tourists are still few,” she says.
Caglione says the decline in international students – many of whom attend language schools – and the European restaurant staff who have left are very noticeable in Brighton and could have a lasting effect on the area. ‘The fresh influx of foreign arrivals on which the city relies has not happened, and next year some businesses may struggle.
Brighton in East Sussex is 76 miles south of London. There are train stations in Brighton (Queens Road), Preston Park and Hove. The fastest train route to London is 52 minutes.
According to Hamptons, the average house price in Brighton & Hove has increased from £ 107,030 in 2000 to £ 393,160 in 2021, up 63 per cent over the past decade.
Since 2016, the gap between the average property price in London and Brighton has fallen from £ 130,000 to £ 106,000.
What can you buy for. . .
£ 625,000 A two bedroom apartment on Hove’s prestigious beachfront Brunswick Terrace, for sale at Winkworth.
£ 1.1 million A semi-detached Victorian five bedroom villa in Hove, on the market with Hamptons.
£ 2.5 million A five-bedroom home in arts and crafts with an outdoor pool, within walking distance of Roedean School, accessible via Winkworth.