Wild moors, looming hills and rugged coastline as well as thriving towns and cities – North Yorkshire has countryside and culture in spades.
Vast, varied and largely unspoiled, North Yorkshire is blessed with natural good looks. It has two national parks – the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors – plus a breathtaking coastline.
Living in North Yorkshire: what to expect
North Yorkshire is an area of contrasts. It offers traditional seaside resorts, rural communities off the beaten track and some of the oldest market towns and cities in the country.
North Yorkshire is very accessible, thanks to some of the fastest train routes in the country and the A1M. But harsh winters mean a four-wheel drive car is considered a necessity by some in certain corners of the county.
Typical house prices in North Yorkshire are £230,274 – below the £290,550 national average, according to Zoopla data.
Where to start your property search
North York Moors: If you’re searching for a quiet community, try one of the pretty villages, such as Swainby. It has a high street that sits either side of a beck.
Or you could opt for one of the market towns just outside the Moors. Stokesley has a thriving high street, supermarkets, doctors and dentists, plus a must-visit fish and chip shop and mini department store. Along with quaint cottages you'll find new-build homes likes the ones at Taylor Wimpey's Stokesley Grange.
Similarly, the small town of Skelton-in-Cleveland offers convenience stores, bakers, butchers, and a post office along with a high street containing a mix of well-known retailers and smaller independent stores. Homes here include everything from charming period properties, to new-builds at Annandale Park.
Northallerton to the west of the moor also has a raft of independent businesses, a market held two days a week plus excellent transport links.
Coast: Sitting on the edge of the North York Moors is the traditional seaside resort town of Scarborough. At £169,342, property prices are significantly below the national average, according to Zoopla data. You can snap up a fine Georgian terraced home in the Old Town, or a Victorian villa in the South Cliff and Esplanade area. Bungalows and apartments are competitively priced and there are plenty of new-build family homes within a mile of the town centre too.
Scarborough has a hospital and a campus that’s part of Hull University. The town’s parks, formal gardens and shops on pedestrianised streets make it family-friendly on days when the sea and sand don’t appeal.
Robin Hood’s Bay, once a fishing village, could vie with many Cornish villages for sheer prettiness and appeal. The narrow hillside streets lined with cottages and quayside boats add to the old-world charm of this part of the North York Moors.
Yorkshire Dales: Beautiful limestone scenery, drystone walls and windswept hills punctuated by farmhouses and barns – these are images that stick with the many visitors who visit the Yorkshire Dales. But what is it like to live here?
Just outside the Dales is pretty Skipton, once a trading hub for sheep and wool. Famed for its cobbled streets, castle and canal, the town regularly vies for the title of best High Street in Britain so you can be sure it’s a lively community. The independent shops down side streets and covered alleyways and a market four days a week also add to the experience, while café-bars and restaurants such as Hettie’s Café Bistro offer a contrast to traditional pubs such as the Woolly Sheep. You can find new-build and Victorian houses within walking distance of Skipton town centre and the railway station.
The village of Embsay, sandwiched between the Dales and Skipton, is perfect if you’re a sports enthusiast. It has a cricket team as well as a sailing club on the nearby Embsay Moor Reservoir.
Central: Boroughbridge, once a stopping-off town for coaches travelling from the north to London, retains its old high street charm and has a thriving community. It still has butchers’ and bakers’ shops and stores such as Fink, the delicatessen and greengrocers. Many of the properties in this area are built in brick, rather than the stone.
With its minster and excellent road and rail links, York is a perennial favourite. Its parks, culture and shopping make it a hub for the surrounding area. It’s also a pleasant city to live in, with fine Georgian and Victorian stone-built townhouses and terraces.
The elegant spa town of Harrogate is a shopper’s paradise, and has a lot of cultural activities on offer too. There is a wide range of property, from period terraces to handsome 1930s gentlemen’s residences and airy apartments. Unsurprisingly, it’s a highly sought-after spot.
And the small city of Ripon has well-respected schools and a seventh-century cathedral at its heart, besides its own racecourse and canal.
Getting around North Yorkshire
Air: Durham Tees Valley (Teeside) Airport has flights out to Amsterdam, Aberdeen and Southampton; Leeds Bradford airport and Robin Hood Airport at Doncaster Sheffield offer links to many European cities for business and pleasure.
Road: The A1M is the arterial route through North Yorkshire; York to Middlesborough on the A19 takes about an hour; the A59 joins Harrogate to Skipton. Scarborough to London is 250 miles and takes around five hours.
Train: The East Coast mainline has direct services to London King’s Cross and to Edinburgh – from York it’s about two hours to both; the Transpennine Express runs to Thirsk, Middlesborough, Darlington and York. Scarborough to London King’s Cross (via York) takes three hours.
Things to do in North Yorkshire
The coast: Sometimes known as the Dinosaur Coast, the North Yorkshire coast is a geologist’s dream.
But it’s also a go-to sun, sea and sand destination. Robin Hood’s Bay was recently voted one of the top 10 seaside destinations by Rough Guides, while nearby Filey made the guide’s top 20.
The fishing port of Staithes, which later became known for its artists’ community, is the prettiest of seaside villages and set in a horseshoe shape around a cove. It’s a fine day out if you’re an artist or art lovers and holds an annual festival of art and heritage. There’s still a small fishing fleet, which lands lobsters and crabs and sells them in the town.
The Scarborough Fair Collection, a collection of vintage cars, steam engines, fairground rides and mechanical organs located between Filey and Scarborough, is a great day out. An afternoon tea dance takes place every Wednesday.
For all things Gothic, head to Whitby, famous as an inspiration to Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. It’s also renowned for jet jewellery – the glistening black substance can be found on the beaches. Once a whaling and fishing village, there’s still a lot of fishing heritage in the town, including a striking whalebone arch. Check out the Captain Cook Memorial Museum – the explorer lived in the area as an apprentice.
Countryside: If you’re into hiking, cycling, horse riding and other outdoor activities, you’re spoilt for choice in North Yorkshire.
For a slow view of the region, walk the Cleveland Way, which stretches 110 miles from Filey in the east, skirts the coast up to Whitby and then drops back down to Helmsley via the North York Moors. Alternatively, walk the Yorkshire Dales section of the Pennine Way, which takes you past Malham Tarn, Ribblesdale and Swaledale.
The Cycling in Yorkshire organisation has ideas for mountain biking, family days out and cycling holidays in the region. If quiet waterside pursuits are more your thing, go fishing in the River Derwent.
Shopping: You can’t beat York and Harrogate for sheer quantity and quality of shops, whether you’re looking for designer labels, big-name high street brands or boutique shops. And when you’re flagging, stop off at one of the plentiful cafés and tearooms in the town, such as Betty’s.
Heritage: The area has many handsome country houses and fine abbeys – some of which were ruined during the dissolution of the monasteries. Visit Rievaulx, Jervaulx, Fountain’s Abbey and Mount Grace Priory for a pick of the best and most dramatic.
Hidden North Yorkshire
Britain’s highest unbroken waterfall, Hardraw Force, is open to the public daily. The 100ft drop waterfall is set in a wooded landscape between Buttertubs Pass and Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales.
4 reasons to live in North Yorkshire
• Lower than average property prices
• Excellent transport links
• Green hills, rugged moors, spectacular coastline
• Traditional Yorkshire afternoon teas