Devon offers beauty in abundance. But, as well as seaside and countryside, there’s a chance for city living too.
Its popularity lies predominantly in the beauty of its countryside and coastlines, which offer an enhanced quality of life for full- and part-time residents, as well as attracting tourists from the UK and overseas.
What to expect living in Devon
Stretching (north to south) from the Bristol Channel to the English Channel, Devon is the only county in England with two separate coastlines. It also offers plenty of rural retreats including the atmospheric Dartmoor National Park, and even a favourable climate.
In 2015, Country Life magazine named Devon as the best place to live in England, having assessed each county on 19 separate criteria including health, schools and amenities. It won’t come as a surprise that Devon fared well on landscape but it also ranked highly for green credentials, heritage and local food and pubs.
A relaxed pace of life is a key motivator for people to move to Devon. But it’s important to remember that it’s also home to vibrant urban centres such as Plymouth and Exeter.
Exploring houses for sale in Devon
In terms of property, Devon offers a broad range of city, coastal and rural opportunities. And, even when comparing properties type like-for-like, prices range from very affordable to pretty exclusive – depending on the area.
Cities of Plymouth and Exeter
In Devon’s largest city, Plymouth, which sits on the south coast, you’ll find plenty of two-, three- and four-bedroom properties up for grabs as well as a scope of flats and maisonettes.
There are lots of period homes too, especially in pockets such as Stoke, Peverell, Mannamead and Hartley. The newly-converted Royal William Yard, the former Royal Naval victualling yard, is comprised of Grade-I listed homes.
However, there’s still a good helping of modern flats and apartments in Plymouth, such as at Mount Wise – Plymouth’s new ‘village-by-the-sea’.
And if you’re looking to property as an investment, buildings for potential high occupancy frequently come to Plymouth, suitable for student lettings and possible conversions into guest houses – planning permission permitting.
Head 45 miles north east of Plymouth to Exeter and property prices become more expensive. According to Zoopla data, average values in Exeter in mid-2016 were £268,000, compared to £188,000 in Plymouth. Exeter is, in fact, Devon’s third most expensive area, being out-priced only by Dartmouth and Salcombe.
You’ll find a whole host of property types in and around Exeter including find new-build developments, family semi-detached and detached homes – as well as smaller flats and terraces. Being a popular retirement area, there’s also a good dose of bungalows, many of which sit on generous plots of land.
Devon offers a wealth of coastal towns – many of which have become thriving resorts. So if you have an interest in sailing, fishing, surfing – or just lust after the salty sea air – you’ll need to adjust your property search to suit.
So where do you start? If you head to Ilfracombe you’ll find plenty of affordable terraced homes, cliff-top bungalows and flats – many of which come with sea views. Woolacombe is also a hotspot although prices tend to be slightly more expensive.
Barnstaple, located slightly inland from the north coast on Devon’s Taw Estuary offers a busy market and town centre with bars, restaurants and a mix of independent shops and high street brands.
On Devon’s south coast, you’ll find the borough of Torbay, which incorporates the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. Many homes here are relatively affordable – more so away from the coast and towards the surrounding villages.
The former naval town of Dartmouth forms part of Devon’s desirable South Hams district, which also incorporates Kingsbridge, Ivybridge, Salcombe and Totnes – the latter being its administrative centre.
Dartmouth and its surrounding town and villages offer a range of properties from terraces, cottages and merchants’ houses, to new-builds and luxury sea-view flats, town houses and boathouses.
In East Devon, Honiton, a market town nestled on the edge of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is worth a look. Okehampton, located on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park; and Tavistock in West Devon with its abbey ruins, are also property-searching hot spots within the county.
Within Dartmoor National Park you’ll find Chagford, a small town and civil parish which, in 2015, The Sunday Times voted the best place to live in Britain’s countryside. It boasts a 750 year-old church, Michelin-starred restaurant and properties dating back to the 15th Century. Unsurprisingly, prices in this ‘jewel of Dartmoor’ hover at top end of the market.
The infrastructure in Devon
Exeter has an international airport and is a base for Flybe.
Finding jobs in Devon
Tourism is one of the largest economic contributors across the county of Devon, alongside with associated sectors such as hospitality and retail. Agriculture is still thriving but has been diversified to create a strong local and artisan food sector.
When it comes to the city centres, Plymouth is a key base for several large employers including Babcock Marine, Plymouth Gin, Princess Yachts International, and The Wrigley Company.
It is also home to several further education establishments, with their associated jobs. These include Plymouth University, the University of St Mark and St John and City College Plymouth.
In Exeter, key employers include the University of Exeter, Devon County Council, Flybe and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. And in 2004, the Met Office relocated from Bracknell to Exeter too.
Things to do in Devon
In and around its breathtaking landscape, Devon has lots on activities on offer.
Dartmoor: The rugged beauty and isolation of Dartmoor National Park is a huge draw for outdoor lovers. Full of history and folklore, with its granite tors, stone circles and ancient villages, it was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles.
The English Riviera: Torbay’s seaside resorts of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham offer a slice of English beach holiday nostalgia, as well as scuba-diving, rock-pooling, crabbing, nightlife and a variety of eateries. Babbacombe Bay has the highest cliff-top promenade, while Paignton has its own zoo and Brixham is home to a life-sized replica of the Golden Hind ship.
Exeter: This Roman-walled city of cobbled streets and squares has plenty of art galleries, restaurants and high street and boutique shopping. There’s also the 15th-century cathedral, as well as the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Underground Passages.
North Devon and Exmoor: Exmoor National Park offers horse-riding, cycling, canoeing and fishing. It’s also home to the Tarr Steps – the longest bridge in Britain to be made entirely from large stone slabs.
The Tarka Trail, which starts at Barnstaple, offers walkers and cyclists up to 180 miles of Tarka Country – the land that inspired Henry Williamson’s novel, Tarka the Otter.
Westward Ho! and Ilfracombe offer traditional seaside fun, while Woolacombe and Croyde are world-renowned surfing spots.
South Devon: Head to Blackawton and you’ll find the Woodlands Family Theme Park. If you’re after good fish and chips, RockFish Seafood & Chips in Dartmouth is run by award-winning chef Mitch Tonks.