Whitby is the number one property hotspot on the Yorkshire coast but nearby Scarborough is upping its game

In the late 1960s, Whitby was not a hotspot for holiday makers and day trippers, unlike Scarborough just over half an hour’s drive away. I know because I was there enjoying a week’s holiday with my parents and grandparents.

We stayed in one of Scarborough’s holiday apartments and we loved every minute from the fair, to the ice cream parlours, amusement arcades, the castle and best of all for me, the donkey rides on the beach.

The only rain on our parade was a damp day in Whitby when my dad went sea fishing and the rest of us hung about feeling fed up and desperate to get back to the bright lights of Scarbados.

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There was a derogatory saying back then: “It's better than a wet weekend in Whitby” which is rarely heard these days because the tables have turned.

Scarborough South BayScarborough South Bay
Scarborough South Bay

Now, Whitby is one of the most sought after places for holidays and short breaks on the coast, if not the most.

As ever, the coastal views and the beaches are exceptional and the quality of the accommodation has soared. The only issue now is that the town is now packed out in spring and summer and property prices have soared leaving some full time residents struggling to get on the property ladder.

According to Rightmove, properties in Whitby had an overall average price of £262,269 over the last year. The majority of sales were terraced properties, selling for an average price of £238,305.

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Semi-detached properties sold for an average of £259,292 with detached properties fetching £361,562. Overall, sold prices in Whitby over the last year were up one per cent on the previous year


Nick Henderson of Hendersons estate agents in Whitby says that the upcoming doubling of council tax for those with second homes, which is expected to be enforced by North Yorkshire County Council by Spring 2025, may have an impact on sales and may prompt some owners to switch to regular shorthold tenancies where the income is more reliable.

As for prices, after the usual winter lull, Nick predicts that lower mortgage rates will boost interest in buying and lead to a rise in values.

Scarborough, on the other hand, has a different story. It slipped into a decline prompted by the 1980s recession and lost some of its shine but its profile and ability to attract visitors, holiday makers and second home owners has been boosted over the last few years.

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The quality of some of the accommodation has been elevated, not least by the dog friendly Bike and Boot Inn with super stylish rooms designed by Yorkshire-based Rachel McLane.

Green Lane, WhitbyGreen Lane, Whitby
Green Lane, Whitby

Then there are the hippest holiday lets in town owned and designed by London based Joe Healey, who grew up in Scarborough and loves it.

He says: “I come back here a lot. If you look at old paintings and photographs of the old town and south bay, it hasn’t changed much. It is still one of the most beautiful places in England.”

The sea views, old town architecture and the historic castle are certainly special and there’s plenty going on. Along with the fun fair, donkey rides and amusements, there is the superb Stephen Joseph Theatre and the town is now a hotspot for artists and makers.

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The above have demonstrated how the arts make a positive difference to a place and one of the latest drivers is the open air theatre, which has attracted a host of big names including Sting, Elton John, Paul Heaton and Kylie.

Seamer RoadSeamer Road
Seamer Road

Tom Jones, Gregory Porter, Simple Minds and Paul Weller, among others, will be on stage there this year

Phil Fletcher, a director at CPH estate agents in Scarborough, says the open air theatre has had a big impact because it brings people in who have never been to Scarborough before and many of those gig goers like what they see.

When they check out the house prices and amenities, some are tempted to think about moving to the town.

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There is a railway station with services to Leeds taking between an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half, the schools are generally good and include the independent Scarborough College and there is a university.

What lets Scarborough down is its town centre, which is in need of TLC, though there are plans to convert the Brunswick Shopping Centre into a leisure-led destination with national bar and restaurant chains, a refreshed retail offering and a cinema with between five and seven screens.

This combined with lower mortgage rates should help attract more buyer interest.

Rightmove figures show that properties in Scarborough had an overall average price of £197,190 over the last year.

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The majority of sales in Scarborough during the last year were semi-detached homes, selling for an average price of £205,913. Terraced properties sold for an average of £157,691 with flats fetching £137,105.

Overall, prices in Scarborough over the last year were three per cent down on the previous year.

“Scarborough has always attracted retirees who remember coming here for holidays but there is now a new audience who can see that this town has a lot to offer, including very good value for money when it comes to property,” says Phil.