South Hams in South Devon

Within easy reach of Plymouth and Torquay, and not too far from Exeter, the South Hams area is the perfect location if your property search dream includes finding a rural idyll. It will undoubtedly appeal to property buyers keen on sustainability – this part of England has some of the greenest locations anywhere, in both the literal and ecological sense. Buying agents have their pick of charming market towns and villages and stunning seaside locations.

Market and maritime towns

There are few large towns here, and property finders will confirm even the largest have a population below 15,000. Ivybridge, at around 13,000 inhabitants, is the largest town; Totnes has a population of around 8,500, and Kingsbridge, about half way between Torquay and Plymouth, is home to fewer than 7,000 souls.

Totnes is known for its strong alternative and independent streak, with many unique small businesses; Kingsbridge is a pretty small market town. No property search of the South Hams is complete, however, without a quick hop, skip and a jump to Dartmouth, home to the world-famous Britannia Royal Naval College for over 200 proud years.

Both military and civilian seafaring traditions are strong here, with some of the prettiest sailing in England.  This is a land of rivers and hills, moorland and nature reserves teeming with wildlife, including otters, kingfishers, other birds, butterflies, and the famous Dartmoor ponies. It’s especially suitable for property buyers wanting a more rural homestead, holiday home or investment property.

Property finder tip: enjoy a slower pace of life

The South Hams area is a place for property buyers to enjoy life: “slow food” has been popular here, and in an area where agriculture is vital for so many livelihoods, the produce is outstanding. Whether it’s luscious lemonades and cordials, organic small-scale chocolate, kindly-reared beef, freshly-caught seafood, or rich, nutritious dairy goods, it’s available here. Then there are the organic vegetables and soft summer fruits, cherries and green salads which flourish in the rich soil. And around every corner, it seems, you’ll find a farmers’ or a makers’ market, a farm shop, or a tearoom offering fresh, local clotted cream as part of a hearty cream tea. (Jam on first please, if you don’t mind!)

While we’ve mentioned sailing already, we haven’t yet mentioned hiking the hills and coastal paths; surfing;  off-road quad biking; or equestrian pursuits. If you’ve ever fancied galloping over Dartmoor in the moonlight, that’s on offer too.

Buying agents who know the area will confirm the popularity of the location with holiday-makers. The climate is usually very pleasant– winters are relatively mild, and even December rains are often relatively warm for the time of year.

Transport and travel

If your heart is set on the South Hams for your next property buying venture, consider localities carefully.  Apart from hospitality and tourism, healthcare, agriculture and education, with some military bases, there are relatively few major industries in this part of the world. Employment often requires travel to Plymouth, Exeter or Torquay. All three locations have large teaching hospitals, with Derriford in Plymouth being the largest. School CQC reports vary depending on which part of the South Hams your property search takes in.


Journeys by public transport to London are too lengthy to allow for daily commutes: around three hours twenty two minutes from Ivybridge to London Paddington, and three and a half hours from Totnes. Exeter International is the nearest airport of any size, around forty minutes from Ivybridge by car and about an hour from Dartmouth.

Arts and crafts

The South Hams will appeal if you enjoy arts, crafts, writing, folk music, sailing, horse-riding, and a generally slower pace of life where you have time to enjoy and appreciate the world.

There’s a bustling arts scene here – the coastline and moors attract artists of all kinds, and the South Hams have been a hotbed of English folk music talent for decades. (You can probably blame Sidmouth Folk Festival for at least some of it!)

A slice of heaven in Devon?

It’s no secret that many people put this area at the top of their retirement and/or holiday accommodation property search list, so a skilled property finder is essential to help you find what you’re looking for.

We wouldn’t say this lovely part of Devon is entirely perfect, mainly due to the transport links (although these have improved massively in recent years) but it comes pretty close. And after all, how can any property buyer resist a district with its very own hedgehog sanctuary?

James Nightingall