We’ve now been living in Devon for five years. I can hardly believe it. It doesn’t feel five minutes ago since we decided we were moving to Dartmouth in the beautiful South Hams. But the amount our kids have grown quickly reminds me that it has been a while!
If you are thinking of relocating to Devon then I hope this post will help answer some of the questions you may have based on our own experience. If there’s something you’d like to know that I haven’t mentioned then drop me a line.
You can also find plenty of Devon family life on my @tinboxtraveller Instagram account and by searching #TinBoxDevon.
I orignally wrote this post back in 2015 before we made the move West from Hampshire. I wanted to share the news and what was in store. Half a decade on I feel I’m in the position to take the story one step further and share our experience of living in Dartmouth, England.
Contents - jump to what you'd like to know
Our decision to move to Dartmouth
Over the summer of 2015, Mr Tin Box was assigned a new job. In case you don’t know, Mr TB is in the Royal Navy, which means his job changes roughly every two years. Up until then we had lived in Hampshire.
When Mr TB had to work elsewhere I stayed put and he came home when he could. This included serving in abroad at military bases and onboard ships.
In the four years before we had the chance to move to Dartmouth his job was in Portsmouth – just down the road from where we lived. Funnily enough that’s when we started a family.
So when we were told his next job would be 160 miles away in Devon we had some serious thinking to do. Waving off your husband for weeks at a time is one thing but when there’s two small children involved you have to weigh up your priorities.
We have family in Hampshire, I had a job and so many of our friends lived locally.
But, let’s be honest; the kids seeing their daddy every day trumps it all.
It was a no brainier really.
We also had previous experience of Dartmouth over the previous 10 years. Mr TB started his military training at Britannia Royal Naval College and even proposed to me there – the smoothie. We’d also had lots of holidays in Devon.
Half a decade on we feel right at home. So where shall I start? Here’s some of the things you need to know about moving to Dartmouth.
The pros and cons of moving to Dartmouth
Let’s start with a few quick-fire pros and cons:
First, all the amazing things about living in Dartmouth:
- It’s beautiful, and I mean stunning!
- One of England’s best beaches, Blackpool Sands, is just down the road as well as plenty of other amazing South Devon beaches closely as well as the River Dart
- It’s a brilliant place to learn a water sport – we’ve become avid paddle boarders since moving to Devon
- There’s some fantastic, independent shops and restaurants in town
- There are some lovely places to visit in the area including family attractions in Dartmouth and close by.
Of course, everywhere has its downsides, although some people might see these as pros):
- Dartmouth is a holiday hot spot – get used to sharing it with a transient community
- Parking in town for doctors, dentist and other appointments can be a challenge because of the lack of spaces in the summer
- It can be difficult to find things to do with kids in the winter months (see below)
- If you live at the top of Dartmouth its a long steep walk up and down College Way or through the winding streets of old Townstal
- If you are a chain store shop-a-holic or love a takeaway delivery you’ll struggle to find these in Dartmouth. And as for Uber, you might have to wait a while
- It takes a long time to get to places like Plymouth, Exeter and Torquay using public transport and at least an hour by car.
- There are some narrow, winding roads on the way to Dartmouth. Get used to reversing!
Where to live in Dartmouth
Our first home in Dartmouth was a military married quarters on the edge of the Townstal estate above the town. After two years we had decided to stay and buy own own home.
But where? Here’s some of the options:
Dartmouth town is where you’ll find picturesque waterfront properties, townhouses overlooking the River Dart and terraced houses and flats set back from the market.
The location makes this one of the most expensive places to buy in Dartmouth. Lots of properties are holiday rentals and second homes.
Parking comes at a premium but you are close to the town’s shops and bus links to Totnes, Kingsbridge. You’ll also find the Dartmouth Higher and Lower ferries and the passenger ferry that connects Dartmouth with Kingswear.
You’ll have lots of opportunities to buy local with independent bakers, butchers, and veg shops. There’s also a couple of convenience shops and an M&S Food.
Dartmouth has a small theatre, The Flavel, which incorporates a cinema, art gallery, cafe and Dartmouth Library.
Townstal stretches up behind the town and is a mix of older properties and more modern a housing estate that looks quite different to the pictures of Dartmouth you will see in the holiday brochures.
There’s a mix of houses, bungalows and flats.
Townstal is closest to Dartmouth Academy, which has a term-time pre-school, primary and secondary school. There’s also an independent nursery onsite that is open all year round and an outdoor swimming pool that’s open during the summer.
At the top of Townstal is where you’ll also find the town’s two supermarkets, Lidl and Sainsburys, as well as Dartmouth Leisure Centre, which has an indoor swimming pool.
Dartmouth’s new housing
A new housing estate is being built at Little Cotton Farm beyond Townstal. The developers, Baker Estates, are building 450 three, four and five bed-room houses here.
Villages around Dartmouth
There are a number of small villages in the countryside close to Dartmouth: Blackawton, Stoke Fleming, Strete and Dittisham. Each has its own village shop and pubs.
Stoke Fleming and Blackawton have primary schools. They feed into Dartmouth Academy, which can be reached by private car or public transport. Kingsbridge Community College and Churston Grammar School are also options for secondary school and college-aged children. However these take a while to reach using public transport.
Things to do in Dartmouth with kids
Some of our favourite things to do in Dartmouth are to walk Little Dartmouth, visit the beaches and Woodlands Theme Park. I can recommend getting membership if you have kids. They usually offer a locals discount around February half term.
There are a small number of toddler groups in Dartmouth. My girls enjoyed the one at Flavel Church on Fridays.
What would you like to know?
I could ramble on forever about the delights of Dartmouth and what it’s like living here. But what would you like to know? Get in touch!
You might also like to check out my other blog, Devon with Kids, for plenty of inspiration for visits and things to do in the county.
Are you considering moving to Dartmouth? Or do you already live in Devon. Do share what you love about it!