We drove around the Bude area today. Widemouth bay looked a fantastic beach, Bude was busy enough with plenty of shops and restaurants but neither they or the surrounding villages said: this is it! Mind you, will any place?
The most enjoyable part of the day was our visit to Hartland quay, Hartland itself is a pretty village and the Quay is a properly windswept and rugged bit of coastline with incredibly folded and crushed rock formations. The kids were immediately entertained climbing rocks, finding stones, yelling, screaming, having fun and despite the cold could have stayed for hours, confirming again that a coastal or close to coastal location would be amazing.
Properties on the UK coast are in my experience crap and ugly. The Georgian seaside resort towns are well past their best. The loose planning era following the wars resulted in some of the ugliest buildings being constructed in some of the most beautiful places - usually ugly bungalow heaven. Any building older than Georgian reflect where people used to live before central heating, double glazing, mains water and beach holidays: sheltered inland areas, on the banks of rivers/streams or around harbours and all in tiny buildings with low ceilings and minuscule windows.
Light, bright, well insulated homes, with big rooms and high ceilings on or near the coast? You either pay millions or you need to go through the planning process and do it yourself. Is that an option?
The other really noticeable thing today was that in an undulating landscape with narrow roads you are quickly in the middle of nowhere and isolated. Will we city folk be able to handle that? Certainly I'm gravitating towards decent settlements (a pub, a couple of shops with easy access to a decent sized town) but this will impact the size of plot of course. There are always compromises...