9 Best Places to Live in Cornwall

Written by: Eliot Prince

Ah, Cornwall — a place of many holidays, memories, and happy times shared.

And the place we all someday dream of moving too! 

For me that become a reality in 2021, and the south west is now firmly my home.

I will say that choosing where to live in Cornwall was tricky.

There’s so many glorious options AND so much to learn about the area before taking the plunge.

With its mild climate, cheap costs, beautiful scenery, and fascinating history, this jewel on the British coast has something for everybody.

Because of what it has to offer, it’s no surprise that you might want to come and live in this fantastic county! Whether you’re a family or a retired couple, there’s bound to be a place that you can call home here.

In this guide, I’ll take you around the county and explore potential places to live in. Specifically, you’ll learn about:

  • Nine gorgeous Cornish places that you can call home
  • Who these places are most suitable for

Shall we? Let’s go!


Falmouth bay

The first place we’ll visit is Falmouth. This quaint town lies on the southeast coast of Cornwall and is home to around 23,000 people. 

Falmouth is also famous for its harbour, making it a true coastal town that just so happens to be one of the best places to live in Cornwall!

It ticks a lot of boxes and came high up in my considerations to settle in the county. You’ll get a mix of community spirit, beaches, restaurants, choose of accommodation, and plenty of amenities.

falmouth paddleboarding

Also enjoying its fair share of rich history, Falmouth is the site of the Pendennis Castle which Henry VIII built in 1540 as a means of defence. To this day, the castle still stands and attracts many visitors.

Tourists and local villagers alike love the small settlement and have even voted it as UK’s best town to live in in a 2017 poll. It’s well-suited to young people as well, especially as there’s a variety of primary and secondary schools available.

Falmouth has also been referred to as a “university town”, and for good reason — it’s home to a famous, well-established university that offers various programs.

On top of that, Falmouth is also excellent for retirees thanks to its very attractive cobblestone main street, an abundance of cute cafes, shops, restaurants, and plenty of sandy beaches with lush green spaces.

The atmosphere is unique too, and the town is home to many interesting and eccentric businesses that enjoy a good market here. 

Finally, Falmouth is also linked by road to everywhere else in Cornwall, and has a good hospital and busy railway line to boot – making it filled to the brim with convenient amenities!


Newquay from across the bay

With unbeatable beaches that draw in plenty of people during the summer months, Newquay is the undisputed surfing capital of the UK! 

Although, I didn’t live here when first arriving in Cornwall my new surf addiction kept bringing me back to the town. So much so that I’ve just bought a house here just metres form the beach!

Situated on the northern coast of the peninsula, Newquay is known to have an almost subtropical climate at times during the summer.

It’s home to around 20,000 permanent residents, but the town’s population swells in the hotter months thanks to its great nightlife, abundance of outdoor activities (such as jet skiing and kayaking), and beautiful coastal scenery.

Towan beach newquay

Steeped in a rich history that stretches all the way back to the pre-mediaeval period, you can still find historic mounds and artefacts in the area!

If you’re interested, it’s worth noting that the prices of properties here are quite expensive; the average house price is around £400,000. 

In saying that, there are more affordable houses available in cheaper areas such as Mount Wise and Towan Beach.

And while there’s no university here, a further education college serves the town and offers limited subjects in the fields of science and media studies. Aside from this, there are plenty of good quality secondary schools in Newquay too.

But there’s still a youthful feel to the area as surfers and summer workers give the town plenty of pep and zing. And this leads to a nice selection of cool places to eat and drink after a day on the beach.

Jobs can be quite seasonal but there are year round opportunities. Plus there’s 7 or 8 co-working spaces to choose form from remote workers.

Despite its size, Newquay is a very practical place to live in — it’s only a few minutes’ drive to Cornwall Airport, which will then take you wherever you need to go in the UK! So you can still get back to the capital in under an hour.

A Ryan Air plane at Newquay Airport

There’s also an aquarium, a plethora of interesting restaurants and cafes (more and more keep popping up in this town), and a functional railway line. Last but not least, Newquay also enjoys ultra-fast internet and broadband. It ticks a lot of boxes, and has come along way from it’s reputation of a stag and hen do destination.


Truro Daniell Street

You’ll instantly recognise this quaint city by the huge, imposing cathedral located at its centre. Truro is the lone city in the entire county.

As the city is also located in the heart of Cornwall, it’s the best place to access other areas of the county. While it’s not as popular a holiday location as other Cornish towns and villages, it’s highly regarded for residence!

It’s the first place I decided to call home in Cornwall and I absolutely love it in the quiet city – which is more the size of a market town to be honest.

Here, you’ll find all sorts of interesting activities such as a museum with a real Egyptian mummy, beautiful beaches only minutes away by car, and lots and lots of shops (after all, Truro is known as the shopping capital of Cornwall).

The streets are narrow and beautifully cobbled, and numerous cafes and restaurants dot the area to suit all your gastronomic needs. There’s seafood, burgers, pizza, and pub grub around the city.

The city traces its roots all the way back to the reign of Henry II and proudly displays all kinds of Gothic and Victorian architecture that’s sure to please any passionate historian. 

House prices in the city centre can cost over 1 million pounds! However, it does get cheaper the further out you go, bringing the average price down to about £350,000.

In terms of education, Truro features two independent schools and has earned the distinction of having outstanding secondary schools as well. And with it’s own little economy there tend to be a few ore permanent job opportunities available here. For example, my partner works as a Graphic Designer in the centre of town. While I work remotely, which suits nicely – especially after a study revealed Truro as the top choice for remote working in Cornwall.

You’ll find a branch of University of Exeter nearby in Penryn which is renowned for its medical degree. Like in Newquay, Truro also has a further education college.

Apart from the sights, what you’ll love most about living here is the community. Truro feels truly tight-knit with its regular festivals and friendly faces to befriend. For the social type, this is definitely the place to live!

Particularly famous for its annual Festival of Lights, Truro revels in a jubilant celebration that brings everyone together. It’s no surprise that this event is one of the most anticipated highlights each year!

St Ives

St Ives with fishing boats in the foreground

Do you know which town has earned the “Best Seaside Town” award two years in a row? 

You guessed itSt Ives! 

Built around a busy harbour, this fishing town has been around since mediaeval times. Because of its location near the tip of the peninsula, St Ives is blessed with gorgeous white-sand beaches and crashing waves.

A tourist town, St Ives enjoys busy streets all year round when compared to most other settlements in Cornwall. The town’s many attractions such as the Tate Gallery or Barbara Hepworth Museum help funnel many visitors into its streets.

Apart from its picturesque coast and lush greenery, St Ives is also home to plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants, and other small boutiques.

While this is mostly a tourist locale, it’s also easy to fit right in as a permanent resident if you ever decide to settle down!

Because of its popularity, St Ives has pretty steep house prices that average £530,000.

However, you can snag a sd dwelling for as low as £180,000, so it’s certainly worth keeping your eyes peeled for low-cost housing options! If you’re a retired couple, this type of living arrangement could suit you very well. 

St Ives is also one of the best places in Cornwall for raising families due to how safe it is for kids. There are also various primary and secondary schools in the area to ensure they keep up with their schooling.

If it all sounds right up your alley, there’s a plethora of community groups, art groups, and benefactor organisations to get involved in, too. You’ll always feel that valuable sense of belonging in St Ives’ bustling community.


Looe harbour

The close-knit town of Looe has been described as “undoubtedly one of the best places to live in all of Cornwall”. Now, that’s the sort of branding that will catch anyone’s attention!

A smaller town of only about 5,500, Looe is situated on either side of the River Looe. This division has resulted in both having very distinct vibes!

It’s a pretty magical place to live in my opinion with the historic harbour and small beach. I have vividly fond memories of munching down fish and chips on the harbour side (while being divebombed by seagulls…)

West Looe is a quieter settlement known for its hotels and restaurants, while East Looe is more bustling and enjoys a variety of shops dotting its narrow streets.

Residents who live in this fishing village enjoy the charm and sparkle that Looe exudes. With its cobbled roads, rolling hills filled with dwellings, a large and open harbour, and even a sunny beach to relax on, you’ll never feel bored here.

Average house prices in the area do soar to as high as £370,000 in some places. However, you will also find a huge variety of home that you simply won’t find elsewhere – making it potentially well worth the price.

Whether it’s Victorian villas, bungalows, charming townhouses, or country cottages, you’ll be spoilt for choice!

looe housing on the hillside

History buffs will appreciate Looe for the prehistoric settlements that once existed here. And for nature lovers, you’ll enjoy the town’s excellent and diverse wildlife that comes in all forms — trees and animals alike!

During the summer, make sure to head over to Looe Island as it’s one of the best places to see the wildlife while you’re in the area.

In Looe, you’ll always enjoy having plenty of things to do and festivals to take part in. The New Year’s Festival is particularly special as many flock to see the spectacular fireworks that boom across the large and imposing harbour.

Music lovers are also treated to a standout festival every September where they get to enjoy three days of excellent vibes and diverse tunes. It’s by far Looe’s most popular and busiest time of year!


padstow harbour with boats in the foreground

Another fishing town that enjoys a history tracing back millennia, Padstow’s charming atmosphere is home to only around 2,500 residents. 

During the summer, many tourists flock to Padstow

Why? Only because the town has been described as one of the “most prized areas to live” and “the most widely known of all Cornish towns”!

Foodies will feel right at home here; famous chef and TV presenter Rick Stein has four restaurants in Padstow that serve a variety of dishes such as seafood and Asian cuisine

It’s simply a culinary experience that you don’t want to miss when you’re in town!

From his restaurants (and countless others), you can sit and watch the tide go in and out as well as observe the bustle of the harbour while fishermen and others wander around. 

Looking to get moving? Padstow offers a popular cycle trail and plenty of walking tracks to take in the scenery and get some fresh air.

If you’d love to live here, there are many quaint cottages that you can rent both short- and long-term. 

Buying one, however, is another beast altogether; average house prices are around £800,000! These prices have almost doubled over the last ten years, even though Padstow has always been a place that the affluent visit during the holidays.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a more permanent settlement, it’s best to have some money saved up in the bank. 

Padstow to Rock ferry crossing over the river camel

Despite the hefty price – it’s worth it. Once you’re here, you’ll enjoy Padstow’s laidback lifestyle and the abundance of shops and eateries that will keep you occupied from dawn till dusk.


Porthlven Fishing Village entrance to the harbour

Home to Britain’s southernmost port, Porthleven is a town of only 3,000 people that also enjoys a very rich history. For instance, there’s an annual market here that dates back to 1066!

Situated in the middle of a huge bay, Porthleven’s climate is something else.

During the winter, large storms batter the town with huge crashing waves. Summertime is the polar opposite as the town bathes in sunshine and offers some of the mildest climates in all of Britain.

Porthleven is located along the Lizard Heritage Coastline and boasts plenty of shops, businesses, and cafes to fulfil whatever desires you may have!

Living here is also fairly expensive at an average price of about £400,000. However, there are plenty of places to rent if that’s what you prefer.

Although it’s smaller than some other towns, there’s some delicious establishments to grab dinner around the harbour. And cosy pubs with sea views. These are some of my favourite to patron after a walk along the cliffs with the dog.

porthleven pub

Whatever living arrangement you choose, you’ll be sure to enjoy the unique mix of great history and modern freshness in Porthleven.


bude canal in the sun

Want to head the other way to far north instead? The town of Bude — home to around 5,500 residents — can fulfil that desire for you.

Once you do, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled on a hidden gem.

Whether you’re a couple, a family, or on your own, it’s hard not to appreciate the deep blue hue of the Atlantic Ocean that stands in stark contrast with the rolling country hills.

This seaside town was a popular destination during the Victorian times, before later becoming important due to its prized sea sand that was used to improve soil quality throughout Britain.

Nowadays, Bude has a beautiful array of hotels, cafes, and shops all waiting for customers to burst through their doors. Will you be one of them?

Although Bude is primarily a holiday destination like most towns in the area, you’ll find yourself right at home with its tight sense of community should you decide to settle down.

In Bude, know that you’ll always be welcomed with open arms and a generous sense of warmth!

p.s. it’s also home to the infamous Bude tunnel… a proud TripAdvisor achievement from the locals.

St Agnes

st agnes beach

Ending this list is the small town of St Agnes, said to be “the essence of rural Cornwall”. 

In this lovely town, you’ll find an extensive selection of shops, dog-friendly beaches, rugged hills, and multiple pubs and restaurants.

St Agnes is like a gemstone in an already beautiful location known as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The town, located just southwest of Newquay on the northern Cornish coast, is named after the virgin martyr Agnes of Rome – which is also the reason why many people affectionately call the place “Aggie”.

St Agnes used to be a mining centre back in the day. However, it’s now become a popular spot for surfers. And I can see why

I mean look at this view…

st agnes mine overlooking the cliffs and sea

If you’re a young family with kids that are into beach activities and surfing, St Agnes is home to a very safe shoreline that’s routinely patrolled by lifeguards for peace of mind.

Like Bude, the village enjoys a good mix of modern and historic dwellings, as well as a plethora of hotels and Airbnbs to book. Many public and private schools also exist here so schooling’s not an issue!

Housing prices, however, are quickly becoming more expensive. While not the costliest around, St Agnes homes can nevertheless hover above £500,000!

If you can afford it, you’re sure not to regret residing in this close-knit locale that also offers beautiful attractions of every kind.

Keep in mind that St Agnes is a little bit out of the way at a 30-minute drive to Newquay Airport. It’s also several miles away from the bigger towns and cities such as Truro and Falmouth.

Ready to move to Cornwall yet?

At least one of the places we’ve explored above will suit your and your loved ones’ tastes. 

In particular, those who love a mild climate, beautiful beaches, and multiple housing options will find themselves right at home in Cornwall.

The only question that remains is whether you’re going to take the leap to settle down in this gorgeous county. One thing’s for sure: if you choose to live here, Cornwall will open its doors for you!