The best seaside locations to retire to in England and Wales

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
15 MAY 2023
3 min read
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The best seaside locations to retire to in England and Wales

After decades of working hard, it’s no surprise that most of us make rest and relaxation a priority after we retire. And for many, there’s nothing more peaceful than a quiet, coastal town.

Whether you dream of long strolls along the seafront or days spent reading in the sun, a home by the coast is an ideal place to slow down and enjoy your golden years. But with so many coastal locations to choose from, how do we pick the best spot for a seaside retirement?

To find out, we investigated the 40 most populated coastal towns in England and Wales and ranked them by a range of factors, including quality of life, cost of living for one person, number of walking trails and the percentage of the population aged over 65.

The top 10 seaside locations to retire to in England and Wales

Our research revealed Sunderland is the number one seaside town for retirement in England and Wales. Located in Durham in northeast England, Sunderland may not be everyone’s first choice for an idyllic seaside escape, but there are many factors that make the town a top choice for retirees.

More than 20% of the population in Sunderland are aged over 65, and they currently enjoy a lower cost of living than any other town in the top 10 at £468 per month for one person (not including rent).

Sunderland also offers one of the cheapest average house prices (£160,230), one of the highest number of GPs per 10,000 people (20.7), and a very high quality of life score (74 out of 100).

Plus, the town sees an average rainfall of only 718 mm per year, which is lower than the UK’s overall annual average of between 800 and 1,400 mm. That means it’s a great place to spend some time in nature – perhaps exploring one of the 12 easy walking trails available.

The second-best location to retire to is Bournemouth. This town on the south coast of England has a higher percentage of the population aged over 65 than Sunderland (21.4%); however, it also has the highest average house price out of the top 10 (£414,267) and the highest cost of living (£544 for one person).

For those who can afford a slightly higher cost of living, Bournemouth is a beautiful location to spend your retirement, and receives the highest quality of life score on the list at 84.

Bournemouth is followed by Clacton-on-Sea, Scarborough, and Bognor Regis.

Which are the best coastal locations with the best quality of life for pensioners?

Quality of life should be a priority for retirees, and where you live plays a big part in that. We found that Bexhill in East Sussex offers the greatest quality of life for pensioners with a score of 70, as well as a higher percentage of the population aged over 65 than anywhere else. 34.5% of Bexhill’s population are seniors, which means 15,412 people are spending their retirement in this seaside town.

Lytham St Anne's in Lancashire takes second place, with a slightly lower percentage of people under 65 (32.2%). However, it shines with a higher quality of life score of 72, making it a worthy contender for anyone seeking a coastal retirement.

In third place is Bournemouth in Dorset, with a lower percentage of the population aged over 65 (21.4%) but a far superior quality of life score (84). In fact, Bournemouth has previously been ranked in the top three percent of best places to live in the world, so it's easy to see why it makes a great location for retirees.

Which are the most affordable coastal locations to live in?

Affordability is another important factor when considering where to spend your retirement. We ranked coastal towns according to average house prices and monthly cost of living to find the most affordable of all, revealing Blackpool as the winner.

The average price of a house in Blackpool is a very reasonable £164,884, and the cost of living is just £431 per month for one person – lower than any other town we looked at.

Sunderland, which was crowned the overall best seaside town for retirement, also ranked as the second most affordable to live in. The average house price is slightly lower here at £160,230, but the cost of living is higher at £468.

Barry in Wales ranked third for affordability, followed by Grimsby, South Shields and Llanelli.

Retirement is an exciting time to start a new chapter, and escaping to the perfect seaside town can make all the difference. After spending the majority of our adult lives working hard, most of us dedicate our later years to getting some much-needed rest and relaxation – which is why retiring by the coast is such an attractive option.

Whether you want to spend your retirement exploring the great outdoors and soaking up sea views, or simply need a change of scenery, coastal towns like Sunderland and Bournemouth are ideal locations. We encourage anyone planning for retirement to consider some of these seaside spots and explore their options to find the perfect place to enjoy their golden years.

Methodology & sources

To determine the best coastal towns to retire to, we analysed the 40 most populated coastal towns in England and Wales and compared them against a series of metrics. Each metric was graded to create an overall score.

The full metrics and their weighting can be seen below:

- % of population over 65 - 20 points
- Quality of life - 20 points
- Number of easy walking trails - 15 points
- Number of GPs per 10,000 people - 10 points
- Cost of living (without rent) per month for one person - 10 points
- Average annual rainfall (mm) - 10 points
- Average house price - 5 points