The New Forest – A Property Finder’s guide to buying a home
Published Jan 19th 2021
4 mins read
The New Forest is a National Park like no other, ponies, donkeys, cattle and pigs wander freely across the ancient woodland and heathland landscape.
Established by William the Conqueror as his new hunting ground nearly 1000 years ago, the New Forest was made a National Park in 2005.
It covers 220 square miles and has a population of approximately 180,000.
The Forest, as it is abbreviated by the locals, is a peaceful haven.
It offers a welcome respite from the hectic modern lives that so many of us live and explains why it is so popular with second homers and those looking to move away from busy urban lives.
Here we provide a Property Finder’s guide to buying a home in the New Forest.
Living in the New Forest
The New Forest is a popular destination for holidaymakers and those looking for second homes, but it is not just for those on holiday, it is a wonderful place for families, retirees and even commuters – Brockenhurst to London is approximately one hour 40 minutes.
Those living in the New Forest enjoy a fantastic quality of life.
For the active there are the watersports on the coast, particularly sailing from Lymington, but also kayaking, paddle boarding and more.
There are miles of bridleways, cycling paths and little lanes to explore and get off the beaten track, whether on horseback, cycling or walking.
It is a stunning area for nature and wildlife lovers with a diverse range of habitats from the heathland and woodland, bogs and salt marshes, to coast and rivers.
Foodies will be delighted with the range and quality local artisan producers, farm shops, pubs and restaurants (more on this below).
Towns and Villages in the New Forest
Whilst the New Forest has large tracks of protected heathland and woodland and is a landscape that has changed little in many centuries, there are active communities and settlements within it.
The largest of which is Lymington on the south coast with a population of 15,000. The town frequently ranks highly in the ‘best places to live’ lists.
Perched between the Solent and the Forest it has an attractive, wide, Georgian high street populated with boutique shops and cafes.
Down through the cobbled lanes is the marina and boat builders.
For many this is the heart of Lymington, this is sailing heaven. But Lymington is not just for yachties, families move to the town for its lifestyle – the Forest on the doorstep, the coast and the watersports, and in Walhampton School it has a top class Prep school.
Property in Lymington is in high demand.
One of the most popular areas is the character streets south of the High Street which are easy walking distance to the marinas and shops.
Better value and quieter locations can be found in the western suburbs, such as Pennington.
There are some beautiful rural properties in the surrounding countryside, with some of the most exceptional along the coast to the east, on lanes such as Lisle Court Road and Sowley Lane.
For those looking for the attractions of Lymington – coast, countryside and sailing – but at better value, Milford-on-Sea should be considered.
Brockenhurst is a large village in the heart of the southern half of the New Forest.
It is quintessentially New Forest with a stream running through the village crossed by a ford.
Animals wander freely through the streets and it is not uncommon to see them ambling past the Post Office on the high street or drinking from the ford.
Whilst it is large, Brockenhurst is a sweet village with good amenities.
It is a popular choice for those who need access to London due to its train station.
The southern half tends to be more populated and pricier, a reflection of its proximity to the coast and trainline.
Whilst the northern half, which is just as pretty and a good choice if seclusion and tranquillity are sought after, is quieter and better value.
Best Kept Secrets in the New Forest
Pannage – if you want to see the wild pigs head to the New Forest in the Autumn.
600 or so pigs are released into the Forest to eat the fallen acorns, beech mast, chestnuts and other nuts that are on the forest floor, which are poisonous to New Forest ponies and cattle.
The practice of pannage dates backs to William the Conqueror’s days.
The New Forest is well stocked with cosy pubs.
The Royal Oak, Fritham with its two log fires is very cute and charming and is one of the best. Historically, it was a favourite meeting place for smugglers.
Buying a home in the New Forest
There are a number of reasons why moving to the New Forest appeals so greatly.
Whether you’re looking for a rural home that offers the ability to occasionally commute or a second home in the country where you can wake up and look out onto un-spoilt heathland, woodland or even out to sea – there are many types of properties available in varied locations and reasons for buying a home in the New Forest.
Those living in the New Forest rarely move again and for that reason, the most desirable homes are rarely available to buy meaning it can be advantageous to have a market expert on side.