Why are people flocking to the seaside.  We take a look at Southend-on-Sea which enjoys the fastest price growth outsize London.

It has the longest pier in the world.  It reaches out for more than a mile into the Thames Estuary. But Southend-on-Sea is getting known for something else, as its house prices quickly increase rise.

Growing prices

If we take London out, Southend has had the biggest price growth since 2000.  It beats Bristol and Cambridge into second and third place respectively.  Average prices are up 290 per cent.

According to Land Registry figures, the average property price has grown by £72k to £278k.  What explains this uplift?  Improved commutability to London, cheaper housing than London, good schools and a beach at the bottom of the road has attracted families from the capital.

A Victorian town house in Southend
A Victorian town house in Southend; £925,000 with Hopson

Southend has two train lines into London, one into Liverpool Street and the other into Fenchurch Street.

“If you are a London commuter, I would say it is the perfect move,” says Ryan Philpott, an actor and writer who lives in Westcliff-on-Sea, a suburb of Southend. “Value for money aside, the train connections are now really good. Trains  from Westcliff are every 15 minutes direct to Fenchurch Street, a journey of 50 minutes, and very reliable. London Southend Airport is brilliant and adds to this feeling of accessibility.”

Investors are putting money into the town.  The airport is growing.  Ryanair has expanded its operations to provide 13 new routes. And local businessman Philip Miller is investing in the Adventure Island amusement park and the Sea Life Adventure aquarium.  These have improved the seafront in the past decade.

Attracting families

Many families are moving here from east London.  A  three-bedroom terraced house costs  £280,000 to £300,000, or one with a bigger garden and garage for £350,000-plus.”

A family home in Westcliff-on-Sea
A family home in Westcliff-on-Sea; £485,000 with haart

In Southend, the three conservation areas – Shorefields, Milton and Clifftown – are the most sought-after addresses.   Buyers will pay a premium for the streets built in the Victorian age.  A 4 or 5 bedroom house costs £525,000-£550,000 and more for the larger, nicely refurbished ones.”

Westcliff is popular for family houses.  It has two outstanding grammar schools, Westcliff High School for Girls, and the equivalent for boys (along with Southend’s pair of high schools). It was also the benefit of living a 20-second hop from the beach that attracted the Philpotts, who live in a four-bedroom detached house there.

Ryan, Mel and Lois Philpott
Ryan, Mel and Lois Philpott

“Our street leads directly onto the estuary, which is always buzzing with activity,” says Ryan, 45, who is married to Mel, a special educational needs teacher, and has a 13-year-old daughter, Lois.

“We can walk east along the front to the Golden Mile of amusements and the pier, or west to Chalkwell Beach and the cobbled streets of old Leigh-on-Sea, which is the perfect place to have a pint and some shellfish.”

You can get a four-bedroom semi on Ryan’s road for £630,000, or opt for one of the contemporary developments overlooking the sea.  If you want a larger property, look in areas such as Leigh-on-Sea, Chalkwell and Thorpe Bay.

Last year Southend was the “happiest place to live in the UK” by Rightmove, for its culture and community spirit. The price of happiness? An average house value of £386,613 – and you get a pier!