Perhaps you are seeking a taste of the yachtie good life down on the Solent (we are long overdue a Howards’ Way remake aren’t we?) or maybe you’re on the hunt for your very own Highclere Castle from Downton Abbey (we can but dream), there are so many reasons you should consider Hampshire for the Big Move and we promise you won’t be disappointed, it’s even better in real life… In this guide we’ll help you find the best places to live in Hampshire, handpicked by our local experts. 

At a glance

The Vibe:  Yachtie down south with affluent commuter hot spots and villages for cities types around Winchester and along the A3 corridor

The Schools:  4 schools in Times Top 100 (Independent Secondary).

The Food:  14 restaurants in Michelin Guide

The Great Outdoors:  2 National Parks, 3 Areas of Outstanding National Beauty and Sailing on the Solent

Larger Towns


A city to make you smile (perhaps a touch smugly) while you walk around feeling pretty chuffed about life…well that’s surely what you’ll be doing down here in a city that is repeatedly voted not just the best place to live in the whole country but also the happiest. 

Maybe it’s something to do with the city’s many different festivals and markets, its well-heeled cobbled streets and its highbrow boutiques, or its celebrated eateries to rival the more fashionable parts of Islington.  Or maybe residents here have found a rare sweet spot of urban sophistication in the shires…and just over an hour into Waterloo too.  That’s enough to make us smile anyway. 

The excellent Pilgrims prep schools sits in the centre of town, with the league topping St Swithuns (day and boarding school for girls) and Winchester College for Boys (and prime ministers) located here too.

Locals love

“An artisan pastry and pick-me-up at the Winchester Bakery” 

“Mulled wine and a magical mooch around our Christmas market in the grounds of the Cathedral, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it!”

“Making my way through the menu and wine list at the Chesil Rectory

Winchester - Best Places to Live in Hampshire - First In The Door

Market Towns


Ever so pretty Alresford (pronounced ‘Allsford’ in case you are wondering) is a postcard perfect market town just 15 minutes from Winchester.  For a small town with little more than 5,000 residents, Alresfords idyllic highstreet of pastel fronted Georgian houses is home to an impressive number of fashionable boutiques and eateries. We particularly like Pulpo Negro, a seductive little tapas restaurant, more than worthy of its Bib Gourmand award.  If it’s the Great Outdoors that’s calling you, you’ll no doubt enjoy riverside walks on the River Arle or setting off into the breathtaking South Downs….just don’t forget your egg and watercress sandwiches from the Watercress capital of the world (Well somewhere has to be right?).

Locals Love

”Absolutely everything about Pulpo Negro”  We couldn’t agree more! 

“We have the Alresford Watercress Festival here in May but it’s so good I wish it was on every month of the year!”

“A ride on the The Watercress Line, we call it the Hogwarts Express!”  Ok, enough watercress already…

Alresford - Best Places to Live in Hampshire - First In The Door

Hartley Wintney

Just try saying it, ‘We live in Hartley Wintney’, it’s got a lovely ring to it hasn’t it?   A name that is evocative of what it is really…a very charming village/small market town with that most quintessential old cricket green in the middle.  We like a drink or two (and often a spot of lunch) overlooking the green at The Cricketers.  You’ll no doubt fall in love with its idyllic pond and smattering of indie shops and delis too.   You are really on the borders here with Berkshire and Surrey so you’ll not be too far into London on the M3 or trains from nearby Fleet (8 mins  by car) can whizz you into London in a speedy 42 mins.  

Locally, Oakwood Infant School is rated Outstanding by Ofsted and Greenfields Junior School is considered Good, as are the nearest secondaries, Calthorpe Park, Court Moor and Robert May’s.

Locals Love

Newylyns Farm Shop – it has its own 500 acre farm for home grown produce, plus a cookery school and we love the cafe there too.”  Everyone needs  good local farm shop, right?

“Hartley Wintney is famous for antiquing, check out Cashmere Goose if you are heading down this way”

Hartley Wintney - Best Places to Live in Hampshire - First In The Door


Oh we do like to live beside the seaside…and on the edge of a forest isn’t bad either (or the New Forest down here we should say, a large national park brimming with wild ponies, expansive heathlands, charming villages and coastal towns –  like Lymington).  Lymington has been a pull on yachties for years and it’s a popular spot for retirees (with over a third of the population aged 65 or over) as well as second homeowners and families drawn to the coast.  If you plan on doing some sailing here in the Solent, that’s just as well, and you’ll need your own boat as the ferry link from Lymington to the Isle of Wight is often quoted as the most expensive ferry crossing in the world. Lymington’s handsome Georgian high street of top notch eateries, coffee shops, ice cream parlours and fashionable boutiques with the latest sailing clobber, runs down to the marina where you’ll see yachties abound and likely a few young families filling their buckets with crabs too. 

In 2021 and 2023, the nearby village of Beaulieu was ranked by the Telegraph as the poshest in the county.  With an average house price of £1,524,287, it is also the most expensive village in the UK.  

Durlston Court and Walhampton are the two local prep schools in the area and you’ll not be far to Winchester for its excellent secondary schools.


Locals Love

“Day trips to Cowes on the Isle of Wight”

Lymington Seafood Festival for some posh munch and a party atmosphere!”

“Soaking up the summer vibes with a beach hut rental at nearby Mudeford”.  Just as well they do rentals really, we hear beach huts here can set you back a whopping £400k! 


The locals here know just how special this ancient market town is, nestled in the heart of the South Downs yet easily commutable for hybrid working into London a few days a week, with Waterloo a 1 hour and 25 minute train ride away.  This is an upmarket spot along the A3 corridor, with a strong community feel and it’s ideal for families who are well catered for with a twice weekly market, a Waitrose and a string of independent shops and eateries which sit comfortably alongside larger brands.  The 69 acre heath and pond on the edge of town is a popular hangout for locals who also like exploring the many nearby villages of the South Downs. 

At weekends, you might also see them heading for the coast to the excellent beach at West Wittering (30 mins or so by car). 

Locals Love

“The Grazing Rooms restaurant at Sky Park Farm, in fact, just everything about Sky Park Farm.”

“Moonlight Swimming at the Open Air Pool…Yes it’s a thing!”

“The Pub with No Name.”  Well, that’s what the locals call it, perhaps they don’t want the rest of us to know just how good it is…  To the rest of us it’s called the White Horse.”

Petersfield - Best Places to Live in Hampshire - First In The Door