Our must-read guide to moving to St Ives, Cornwall, the best place to live by the sea!

The up-market coastal enclave of St Ives is packed with all of Cornwall’s best attributes, including award-winning beaches, acclaimed restaurants and a thriving arts scene. Recently voted the most in-demand seaside town by Rightmove, the allure of St Ives is hard to resist…

Occupying a spit of land, flanked by sandy beaches and surrounded by blue waters, St Ives is famous for its pure light – a quality which has long attracted artists to the town. At its heart is the picturesque harbour and a tangle of narrow winding streets; wander these lanes for long enough and you are bound to spill out onto a stretch of sparkling sand – Porthminster, Porthgwidden and Porthmeor and Harbour Beach all have Caribbean qualities on the right day.

Once home to fishermen and artists, St Ives is now a large town which extends inland and merges into neighbouring Carbis Bay. To the West though, the outskirts give way to the wilder side of Penwith and the moorland around the village of Zennor. This dramatic corner of Cornwall is a great place to escape the summer crowds and enjoy bracing walks along the coastal path, followed by a long pub lunch.    

St Ives itself is a great place to indulge in the finer things in life. With some of the best restaurants in Cornwall to be found overlooking the waters, a lively high street packed with independent boutiques, and a plethora of excellent galleries, it’s easy to see why it’s both a popular holiday destination and a prime choice for city-goers looking to relocate. Add to this the draw of great surf, and it’s not surprising that the town is a magnet for home buyers.

Location & transport links

St Ives is reached by leaving the A30 at Lelant. The road can become quite congested in the summer, although the creation of a new transport hub and park and ride at St Erth should help ease the pressure. 

St Erth (on the main Paddington – Penzance line) is where the branch line train service for St Ives departs. Services leave throughout the day stopping at Lelant and Carbis Bay too – in the summer the number of trains increases significantly.

The journey to Newquay airport takes around 1hour from St Ives. 

Places to eat & drink

From world-class seafood restaurants to delux burger joints, casual coffee houses to micropubs, St Ives is a microcosm of Cornwall’s famously good food and drink scene. 

Casual Eating and Drinking:

  • The Pilchard Press – This micropub is tucked away just off the seafront and serves a revolving selection of interesting local beers and ciders.  
  • Scarlet Wines – Wine shop, deli, breakfast haunt, coffee house, pizza joint; Scarlet Wines is a favourite pit-stop for local and visitors alike. Conveniently located just off the A30 at Lelant, you can usually park outside.
  • Hub St Ives – HUBBOX started in St Ives and now has outposts as far afield as Portsmouth. Hub St Ives has a huge following thanks to its use of the finest ingredients, including 21 day dry-aged beef and freshly-caught local seafood.  
  • Porthgwidden Beach Cafe – The ‘little sister’ of Porthminster Beach Cafe, Porthgwidden is a local favourite. The sun-drenched terrace is a great spot to devour bowls of mussels in the summer, but the cafe is an attractive proposition in the winter too, when wave-watching from the huge window will keep you entertained for hours.  
  • Yallah – This independent Cornwall-based coffee roaster has a small but perfectly formed kiosk on the harbour-front from which they dispense possibly the best coffee in town, alongside freshly-made donuts. Become a regular at your peril!

Splashing out:

  • Porthminster Beach Cafe – This iconic beach-side restaurant, which looks out over St Ives Bay towards Godrevy Lighthouse, serves elegant and inspired seafood dishes using the freshest local haul imaginable. Executive Chef Michael Smith draws on his love and knowledge of both Asian and Mediterranean cuisine, and the restaurant has won multiple national awards as a consequence.  
  • The Old Custom House – This intimate, Italian-inspired restaurant is hotly tipped as the next big thing by the food-loving locals. Rustic small plates are packed with flavour, and the wine list is excellent. 
  • Porthminster Kitchen – Porthminster Kitchen is the harbour-side outpost from the team behind Porthminster Beach Cafe. Again the location is top-notch, while the food is a playful take on Cornish cuisine – smaller plates and lighter options combine global flavours with fresh local ingredients.
  • Gurnard’s Head – This pub with rooms is on the westerly coast road heading out of St Ives, just past the village of Zennor. It’s well-worth the winding drive to experience the great food and artfully rustic interior; but be warned, once you’re here you won’t want to leave!  

Local amenities

There are several good supply stores in town, including The Allotment Deli which stocks fresh produce, locally-baked bread and store cupboard supplies. You’ll find Tesco conveniently located between Carbis Bay and St Ives, though nearby Penzance offers a wider choice of larger supermarkets. 

If you need home furnishings you’ll have plenty of on-trend boutiques in town, including Cream Cornwall, The Painted Bird, Academy and Earthworks. The West Cornwall Shopping Centre on the Hayle bypass is home to M&S and Next as well as a large Boots, and behind this complex you’ll find Iroka – a high-end store which has everything for full interior renovations. 

Garden enthusiasts will enjoy visiting Hardy Exotics on the A30 between Lelant and Penzance, and there is also a handy Wyevale Garden Centre at Lelant. 

St Ives has a leisure centre (gym and swimming pool) perched on the hill above town, and you’ll also find great health and fitness facilities at Una St Ives and Carbis Bay Hotel. 

Housing

St Ives has been no exception to the Cornish property boom over the past decade as buyers flock to the area to enjoy unencumbered coastal views. There’s a wide range of property types in St Ives and the surrounding areas, from terraced stone cottages to super modern sea view villas and penthouse apartments.

The average price of a property in St Ives is surprisingly good value despite the areas remaining one of Cornwall’s most recognisable and popular. Like many other Cornish towns and villages, prices in St Ives have increased over the last 12 months from a peak of £354,488 to £396,619, Rightmove data has revealed. Over 5 years, prices have risen to demonstrate that this a truly desirable area in which to live.

This is partly fuelled by the decision of the town council to introduce a ban on new build homes purchased as a non-primary residence, meaning that the number of second home owners in the area is likely to reduce when compared to the rest of Cornwall. If you are looking to live or relocate to St Ives, it could offer the perfect opportunity to acquire a reasonably priced home in one of Cornwall’s most desirable locations.

Why we love St Ives!

  • Winter drinks at The Sloop Inn. St Ives in summer is a whirl of beach days and busy nightlife, but winter offers a more sedate pace. Wrap up warm and take a stroll around the pretty harbour, before calling into this historic pub (circa 1312) for a few pints.
  • Pizzas at West Beach Bakery in the summer. Catch the last of the evening sun and keep the whole family happy, with delicious sour dough pizzas. 
  • Locals passes to Tate St Ives. For just £5 Cornish residents get unlimited entry to Tate St Ives, and the beautiful Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Gardens. A very worth-while investment!
  • Hiking the coast path to Zennor. It’s a long old haul over quite tricky terrain, but the views are stunning. Call in to The Tinners Arms for your reward of lunch and a pint, or The Gurnard’s Head is an extra few miles.
  • If St Ives inspires your creative side, have a look at the varied course programme at St Ives School of Painting, which enjoys a stunning location on Porthmeor Beach. The world-famous Leach Pottery also run courses and classes. 

Looking to buy in St Ives?

If the St Ives lifestyle sounds tempting, give us a call or email to discuss signing up for property alerts – you could be making West Cornwall your home before you know it!