Weymouth is a photogenic part of the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. In photos, the sea glows turquoise in front of the city’s sandy beaches.
Colorful fishing boats ply in the harbor, and the bustling esplanade boasts Georgian hotels, ice cream shops, and food and drink.
At the junction of Weymouth’s two central streets, there is a colossal statue of King George III, which made Weymouth popular as a seaside resort. Dressed in garter, scepter in hand, he stands tall on a Portland stone post.
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“It’s a beautiful place to live,” says Leslie Riley-Maynard, a local for Weymouth. “Very lovely walk, beach and [they’re] all free. Great restaurant and much more.”
Janet Blacker moved from Bedfordshire to Weymouth seven years ago, and agrees: “I can honestly say there is nothing I dislike about Weymouth.
“Lots of live (free) music, a stunning harbor, gorgeous beaches. [There are] There are plenty of places for great walks and it’s only a short drive to many other gorgeous places. I can’t imagine a better place to live in.”
This is probably why Weymouth is often listed as one of the best places to live in Britain. Last year, for example, an analysis of Google search history found that Weymouth was the 10th most searched place in the UK for second homes.
According to council figures, Weymouth’s population has been increasing since 2013, influenced by its role as the base for sailing events at the 2012 Olympics.
Growth of the city has been encouraged by the council, which, in 2015, launched plans to regenerate the city centre, stimulate economic growth and build new housing to accommodate the growing population.
Weymouth is still under development – last year, for example, a £120 million new housing scheme began construction of 500 new homes.
Alexa Tilly moved from Putney in south-west London to Weymouth in 2013, after her husband was offered a job in nearby Poundbury.
After convincing her employers to let her work remotely, Alexa jumped at the chance to “live in this beautiful part of the world.”
“First of all, it’s the natural beauty of the area,” Alexa says. “It’s the coastal part of it… I can’t imagine not being by the sea anymore. I’ve really gotten into wild swimming – it’s fantastic to be able to do this right at your doorstep.”
She adds: “We have two young kids – two boys – and it’s nice to have them in a place where we can have all these adventures. There’s so much to see and do.”
Alexa admires the coastal promenade, countryside, area’s booming restaurant scene. He is also enchanted by the port, with its lively atmosphere and colorful fishing boats.
“The absolute jewel in Weymouth’s crown is Weymouth Harbor … I could see it all day if I had nothing to do,” she says.
After living in London for the rest of her life, the capital had felt like home to Alexa – and she had never been to Weymouth before moving there.
“Now, I think Weymouth is home, and I can’t see us moving on because we love it so much here.”
After nearly a decade in the area, Alexa says there are signs of change.
She points to the growth of the city and the growing popularity of the area during the pandemic, as Londoners and people living in other cities have left for the countryside.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth … property development, people investing in the area. It’s definitely grown in a big way over the last 10 years. As much as it happens, I think we’re at a critical point where It’s going to change a little bit,” says Alexa, who sees the development as a positive thing.
“It looks like it’s heading upwards right now – people are appreciating it more, seeing what it has to offer, and that’s really good for the sector.”
David Franklin, who has lived in Weymouth for 45 years, also supports further development, arguing that current efforts to stem the economic decline in Weymouth and other seaside locations have not gone far enough.
He says: “The Olympics in 2012 brought in a lot of fresh investment from the government and lottery funds, but that legacy has never lived up to the expectations.”
He adds that housing provision is not evenly matched with opportunity: “Yes, hundreds of new homes have been built, but it is not clear how or where everyone works or how they earn a living.”
Certainly, expansion means that home prices are rising. According to Zoopla, the current average property price in Weymouth is £300,382 – an increase of 18.9 percent (£47,749) over the past five years.
In comparison, property prices in London have increased by 10% in that time.
Gemma Hounsell, who has lived in Weymouth for 38 years, says rising property prices are driving locals out of the area. “It’s sadly becoming a city of two halves: people who can afford to live here and those who can’t,” she says, pointing to friends who have had to move out of town.
“As people move out of towns and cities, house prices change. [here] Extraordinary…Second home ownership and Airbnb Weymouth have a major problem, both driving up the cost of properties and losing properties that are suitable for rental.”
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Second home ownership from London and elsewhere has been the subject of controversy throughout Dorset Beach.
But Weymouth has the advantage of having a geographical location for development, as Brian Larcombe, a local councilor from nearby Lyme Regis, points out.
In any case, Alexa is eager to talk about the Weymouth—but others prefer to keep its charms a secret.
Weymouth local, Kirsten Taylor, says: “We don’t want anyone in London to know how good it is!”
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