Majestic mountains, 250 miles of open coastline and rolling green valleys are just some of the reasons to settle in North Wales.
If you’re after an active lifestyle, North Wales is a desirable spot. And house prices in the most beautiful towns and villages are widely affordable – often ringing in at under the £176,000 average for Wales overall.
Living in North Wales: what to expect
The majority of settlements in North Wales line the coast. Resorts such as Rhyl, Llandudno and Pwllheli are popular residential areas as well as tourist hotspots. The houses set into the hills with sea views are particularly sought-after.
The most notable urban centres are Wrexham, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and Bangor, with Wrexham being the largest. These towns come with plenty of independent shops, traditional markets and shopping centres.
Exploration of the area’s mountains and rugged coastline is encouraged by a host of walking clubs, adventure groups and outdoor centres. Residents can hike, cycle, climb and even zipwire across deserted quarries and green valleys.
Families can take advantage of the ‘excellent’ schools scattered throughout North Wales. Ysgol y Foryd and Ysgol Abercaseg were all awarded top rating by Estyn, the Welsh equivalent of Ofsted, at their last inspections. Many schools teach in Welsh although some are English speaking.
Where to start your property search
Take your pick of modern villas with magnificent sea views, a quaint stone cottage snuggled among the mountains of Snowdonia or a grand Victorian town house in an historic town. To narrow down your property search, we’ve summarised what’s available and where.
Coastal living: Abersoch featured on The Sunday Times Best Places to Live list in 2016. This village backs onto Snowdonia and has views over a yacht-filled harbour. Prices are high, particularly for the new villas with sea views.
Victorian villas are also available on streets such as Lon Garmon, or you can opt for a period cottage with exposed beams on Lon Sarn Bach. The Riverside, a new development, will have contemporary houses and apartments when complete.
Colwyn Bay provides easy access to the A55 which carries you along the coast and into Chester. Look for imposing Victorian detached homes here on Queen’s Drive or opt for a secluded 1920s property in the Conservation Area of Kings Road.
Modest flats over shops can be found on Penrhyn Road, whereas two- and three-bedroom terraces are available on streets such as Highfield Road and The Close.
Grade II listed Georgian detached properties can be found on Ty-Gwyn Road in Llandudno. Hunt for a family home with great views on Maesdu Avenue or seek out a terraced two-bedroom cottage on Jubilee Street.
Urban living: Llangollen also made it onto The Sunday Times’ list in 2016. This picturesque town has a Victorian promenade as well as an historic aqueduct. On the outskirts are 17th-century country houses with panoramic views of the Vale and Grade II listed farmhouses with open stone fireplaces. In the centre are grand Victorian town houses that boast high ceilings and bay windows.
Wrexham has sprawling Georgian farmhouses and barn conversions on its outskirts. In the centre, late Victorian and Edwardian detached homes can be found on streets such as Beechley Road. Less pricy terraces are available in areas such as Glan Gors and Bright Street.
Ruthin is an attractive town where you’ll find Grade II listed five-bedroom terraces on roads such as Castle Street. If you prefer modern homes, take a look at the four-bedroom detached properties on Stryd y Brython, which are tucked down quiet cul-de-sacs. Stone town houses are also on offer on Clwyd Street.
Rural living: In Snowdonia, Beddgelert village has spacious six-bedroom stone-built semis on Caernarfon Road. If you want a listed property, take a look at the character cottages on Club Street.
For a home among the trees, look to Betws-y-Coed. Large six- and seven-bedroom detached homes are hidden in the forest area above the village, but if you want something less roomy, take a look at the 17th-century stone cottages on Pentre Felin and Station Road. Three-bedroom semis can also be found on Holyhead Road and Gethin Terrace.
Llanddulas sits near the coast. Terraced stone cottages line Abergele Road whereas modern detached homes with two bedrooms can be seen on Ffordd-y-Graig. Look for houses in an elevated position for a home with scenic views.
Getting around North Wales
Direct trains from Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead run to London Euston and Manchester with a journey time of two hours.
By car: The coastal resorts of North Wales are linked with Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham by the A55. Residents can also access the A470, which connects Conwy to Cardiff, and the A5, which tracks inland towards Llangollen.
By air: Liverpool John Lennon Airport is the closest airport for residents. From here locals can travel to destinations such as Hamburg, Rome and Geneva. Domestic flights are also available, as are longer haul flights to places including the USA. Flight providers include easyJet, Flybe and Ryanair.
Things to do in North Wales
History: Llechwedd Slate Mine reveals the dark and dangerous life of a miner during the 19th century. Tours take visitors 500 feet underground to show them how the miners lived and worked.
Residents can take their pick of castles to visit. Harlech Castle was one of the strongholds built by King Edward I in the late-13th century and formed part of his ‘iron ring’. Visitors can admire panoramic views while learning about its long siege during the Wars of the Roses.
Other popular castles include Caernarfon Castle, which boasts a unique polygonal tower instead of a traditional round tower. It was also the birthplace of the first Prince of Wales in 1284.
St Asaph Cathedral in Denbighshire is the smallest ancient cathedral in Britain. It’s home to the William Morgan Bible, which was the first Bible to be translated into Welsh. Take a tour to learn about the construction of the 13th-century building or attend one of its concerts.
Cultural: Llandudno’s Venue Cymru is one of the places to go for exhibitions, music shows, entertainment, dance and opera. Residents can also head to the Pavilion Theatre in Rhyl for more concerts, musicals and ballets. Check out its events calendar to find out about upcoming performances.
Outdoors: Keen walkers can tackle one of the nine mountain ranges in Snowdonia to get some of the best views of the national park. Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and has six routes to choose from. Easier walking can be found in the Clwydian Range, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in north-east Wales.
North Wales boasts plenty of white water rivers for kayaking and rafting. Experienced rafters can test their ability on the Tryweryn River in Snowdonia, which has Olympic-grade white water, while beginners can try the gentler waters of Llangollen’s rivers.
Residents have plenty of other adrenaline-fuelled sports to try. At the Penryhn Quarry in Bethesda visitors can try out the fastest zip line in the world, which is also the longest in Europe. The zip wire can reach speeds of more than 100mph offers amazing views of the island of Anglesey.
Seaside resorts can be found across the whole length of North Wales’s coast. Colwyn Bay has a longer coastline than Rio’s Copacabana Beach and has an elegant Victorian promenade for evening strolls. Beaches such the one found at Aberffraw in Anglesey might attract less attention but the sand dunes are beautiful.
Shopping: Wrexham and Colwyn Bay are the primary shopping areas. Bayview Shopping Centre in Colwyn Bay is close to the town centre and hosts 25 stores, including high-street favourites such as Argos and Holland & Barrett.
In Wrexham, the Eagles Meadow centre contains popular shops such as Boots, H&M, Next and River Island. The town also has a wide selection of independent shops, which can be found lining the old streets and arcades. Its Monday Market is also the largest in North Wales.
Food and drink: Taste fresh food and locally sourced ingredients at On The Hill in Ruthin. Traditional bistro food, such as butter-roasted chicken, is served here. Make sure you save room for warming sweets such as banana sticky toffee pudding.
After enjoying the beach at Porthdinllaen, take a seat at the Ty Coch Inn. The pub dishes up typical pub food alongside locally brewed guest ales, while its diners admire picturesque views across the Irish Sea.
More great views can be had at Fouzis Café in Llangollen. Its outdoor seating gives its diners views over the Dee Valley while they eat freshly made pizzas and other Mediterranean favourites.
Hidden North Wales
Surf Snowdonia in Dolgarrog is manmade lagoon with its own wave machine. So you don’t have to wait for the perfect conditions to grab your surf board and get practising.
6 reasons to live in North Wales
Stunning coastline, mountains and picturesque views
Ideal countryside for hiking, cycling and other outdoor sports
Affordable house prices
Historic towns and villages
Independent shops and markets
Predominantly rural but with attractive urban centres
You might also be interested in...
- More UK buying guides
- The 5 things homeowners wish they’d checked before buying
- 8 ways to keep your house purchase on track
- How first-time buyers can step on to the property ladder
- Thinking about downsizing in retirement? Ask yourself these 7 questions
Do you want to live among the mountains and woodland of North Wales? Tell us why in the comments below…