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Insight – where are the UK’s top 20 towns for second homes?

With the recent staycation boom, which is likely to continue for future summers even as international travel opens up again, the appeal of a second home in the UK will have risen considerably since Covid began.

But where are the top second home hotspots for city-dwellers? Well, a new study by Lakeshore Leisure Group has revealed that the UK’s urbanites are most interested in second home properties located in Salcombe, Falmouth and North Berwick.

The research analysed the Google search history of over 100 UK cities since the beginning of the first national Covid lockdown, in order to discover which coastal and rural locations were being searched for the most in relation to second homes and holiday homes.


It found that city-dwellers are most interested in second homes in South West locations, with Salcombe, Falmouth, St Ives, Brixham and Newquay all in the top six most Googled holiday home towns. Scotland’s North Berwick and Yorkshire’s Whitby – famous for its connections to Dracula – also made the top ten.

The rural appeal

The research showed that the combination of Brexit and the pandemic has prompted city dwellers to find a way to regularly escape their urban homes and guarantee a much-needed holiday escape whilst international leisure travel remains so uncertain.

People’s online behaviour clearly shows the huge rise in interest for a semi-permanent rural escape since the start of Covid, with Google Trends highlighting an all-time high for ‘second home’ searches in July 2020 which have remained high into 2021. What’s more, rising property prices in the South West and other rural towns and villages across the UK prove the interest is turning into serious demand.

Where UK cities want second homes, according to Google data


Second-Home Location

‘Second home’ searches made by UK cities since April 2020


Salcombe, Devon



Falmouth, Cornwall



North Berwick, East Lothian



St Ives, Cornwall



Newquay, Cornwall



Brixham, Devon



Bournemouth, Dorset



Whitstable, Kent



Whitby, Yorkshire



Weymouth, Dorset



Tenby, Pembrokeshire



Torquay, Devon



Blackpool, Lancashire



Padstow, Cornwall



Ullapool, Ross & Cromarty



Scarborough, Yorkshire



Great Yarmouth, Norfolk



Bude, Cornwall



Lyme Regis, Dorset



Filey, Yorkshire


The most popular places to escape urban life

Salcombe: This pretty seaside town has been on people’s holiday home radar long before Covid came along, but since the pandemic the interest has kicked up a gear. Nestled in Devon’s picturesque South Hams area, the town is famous for its sailing community, being the home of Jack Wills and its ice cream. According to Rightmove, Salcombe’s house prices are up 8% to a pricey average of £866,000 for a detached property.

Falmouth: Another familiar name for boat lovers, Falmouth on Cornwall’s south coast is a quaint harbour town that lots of city-dwellers would like a holiday home in. Despite Rick Stein’s recent announcement that he is permanently closing his fish and chips restaurant in the town, locals here have a wealth of gorgeous eating establishments to choose from including The Wheel House and Restaurant FOUR. Homes here are considerably cheaper than Salcombe, averaging between £317,000 and £489,000.

North Berwick: This picturesque coastal town in East Lothian has access to incredibly beautiful beaches that will refresh and enliven its visitors. It’s been a popular second home choice for a while, thanks to its combination of a lively high street and town, whilst enjoying easy links to Scotland’s remote and wild countryside. Homes in North Berwick are averaging at just under half a million pounds.

St. Ives: City-dwellers who want an exciting food and art scene will be drawn to a second home in north Cornwall’s St. Ives. With Tate St. Ives and other local artist galleries, the creative culture of this pretty seaside town has made it a popular holiday home location for urbanites for years. The average price for a terraced house is currently just under £400,000.

Newquay: The third Cornish location in the second homes top five, Newquay has been popular with surfers and festival-lovers for a while. Suited to water lovers, the famous beach caters to those who enjoy paddle boarding, surfing, sea kayaking and sea swimming. Detached properties are currently selling at an average of £468,000, and flats at £236,000.

Making second homes more sustainable

Lakeshore Leisure Group says it has benefitted from this increased demand, selling holiday home lodges at its brand new Clawford Lakes development to people looking for a rural escape in Devon.

However, the company says it is aware that the growth in second home purchases isn’t always beneficial to local communities as it can distort local property prices and price local residents out of the market.

It insists its model ensures huge benefits to the buyer such as the opportunity to make significant rental income when not in use, a property managed year-round by Clawford Lakes and no stamp duty or council tax to pay.

Additionally, because the lodges are all based on a managed holiday site, owners will not be buying bricks and mortar property in the surrounding towns and villages, ‘which means less inflation of the local housing market’.  

Stephen Twiss, chief executive at Lakeshore Leisure Group, said: “We want to provide a way for people to enjoy the beautiful rural areas of the UK whenever they want to, for however long they want, but in a way that is supportive rather than detrimental to local communities.”

He added: “Our new holiday lodges at Clawford Lakes offer a relaxing escape at a really low purchase price compared to waterside properties in similar locations; however, these luxury lodges don’t price locals out of the housing market. Our lodge owners and guests help boost the local economy all year round, our sites provide jobs for local people, and all whilst protecting the properties of rural residents.”


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