East Sussex

East Sussex

Who couldn’t simply adore East Sussex?  A joyful mix of vibrant and inclusive urban communities that bubble up from the south coast and which give way to the serene and quintessential landscapes and villages of the South Downs.  There’s something to sing about at every turn…and sing they do…at the exquisite Glyndebourne Opera Festival for which this county is famed.  A county where natural beauty and cultural richness collide.  In this area guide, we will explore some of the best places to live in East Sussex, carefully selected by our local experts.

Brighton & Hove

For those seeking a vibrant and cosmopolitan lifestyle, look no further than Brighton and Hove. This iconic city by the sea is famous for its lively atmosphere, diverse culture, and its imposing Regency architecture. Voted happiest city in the UK, Brighton and Hove is the perfect place for a hybrid working lifestyle. The city energy turns up a level in May during the Brighton Art and Music festival, a celebration of music, theatre, dance, and literature, with a cheerful and eclectic mix of pop up bars and restaurants to keep your batteries charged.  The bustling bohemian North Laine is a great spot for people watching and to discover a one-of-a-kind piece for your new home in one of the many independent shops.

Families moving here will have a hard job choosing from the area’s 18 outstanding OFSTED rated state schools and, if you decide to go down the private route, you might look no further than Brighton College, having just been voted School of the Decade, no less, by The Sunday Times.  

With a plethora of living accommodation on offer from the high-ceilinged Victorian flats overlooking the sea to big show-off family homes in Hove and sought after mews cottages tucked away in Kemp Town, this city is a magnet for young professionals and families alike.

Locals Love

‘Wild swimming in the sea first thing in the morning (if Southern Water are behaving themselves!!!) before jumping on a train to work in London…it’s good for the soul!”

FISH – a hidden gem based near Hove Lagoon – offering the most incredible freshly caught fish including lobster, huge seabream, mussels and oysters.”

“Yoga on the sundeck at Rock Water beach bar at sun rise – a little slice of Ibiza on the South Coast!”

Historic Lewes

Step back in time in the historic town of Lewes, where medieval streets, Tudor houses, and a well-preserved castle create a sense of living history. With a handsome smattering of independent shops to while away a lazy afternoon and inviting old world pubs to pause for a pint or two, Lewes retains an authentic charm that captures the hearts of both residents and day trippers.  Notable schools include the Priory School, CofE Primary School, and the St Pancras Catholic Primary School. 

Locals Love

“‘The night locals love to hate – the weird and wonderful Lewes Bonfire night – no town does it quite like Lewes.”

“‘A dip in Pells Pool, a remarkable place, it’s the oldest, possibly the coldest, outdoor freshwater swimming baths in the UK – it wakes you up in a way no other exercise can.”

“Saturday afternoon to myself mooching in all the indie shops on the High Street, especially Cheese Please, they create the most amazing after dinner packages to impress your friends with that include local cheeses, wines and chocolate truffles – even better when your friends cancel, and you get it all for yourself.”

The old new kid on the block – Hastings

Hastings is starting to draw a new crowd to its shores and, in recent years it has attracted musicians and producers seeking space to create and renovating unused cinemas, local swimming pools and churches into stunning new homes. And we can see why, the Old Town’s winding streets, fisherman’s huts, and traditional seafood restaurants evoke a sense of nostalgia, while the contemporary architecture, indie boutiques, and its artisan vibes bring a modern and creative buzz to the town.

Locals Love

“Fish, chips and a cold glass of prosecco from Maggie’s overlooking the Fisherman’s Beach.”

“Join an artificial flower making workshop with Brenda Wilson, the owner and manufacturer of The Flower Makers’ Museum, a hidden gem in the old town, tucked away in the basement of the Shirley Leaf and Petal Shop.” 

“Taking a stroll and enjoying a coffee in Alexandra Park in early September – the light is simply breathtaking.”

The South Downs

One of the most appealing aspects of East Sussex is its diverse range of landscapes, and one area that stands out is the South Downs. With its rolling hills, open farmland, and charming villages, the South Downs is a haven for nature lovers. If you are looking for a slower, quieter pace of life and, would rather be waking up to the sound of birds than the sound of buses, then towns such as Lewes or Alfriston might be just for you…no doubt you’ll be foraging for treats from the local farm shops on offer or recuperating at a Michelin starred gastro pub after long walks in the countryside.   Towns in the South Downs offer a blend of countryside charm, outstanding schools and bustling markets while also being within easy reach of the coast – and the commute – in case you still actually have to pay for your new idyll!

Locals Love

“Early morning windsurfing alone on Piddinghoe Lake”

“Long walks along Cuckmere River, the walk takes you down to the sea to watch the sun set – you can never tire of it.”

“Sunday roast at The Star Inn, in front of the crackling fire with an enormous glass of red wine – and relax…”