UK’s New Retirement Paradises: Scarborough and North Norfolk

In a significant shift reflecting the preferences of the UK’s aging population, Scarborough and North Norfolk have emerged as the nation’s top retirement destinations. Known for their serene landscapes and rich cultural scenes, these areas are attracting retirees in droves.

Scarborough: The Seaside Retirement Dream

Scarborough, a picturesque seaside town in North Yorkshire, has become the UK’s retirement capital. Astonishingly, 27.6% of its 62,000 residents are aged 65 or over. What makes Scarborough stand out?

Coastal Beauty and Community Spirit

Lauren Spivey, a local estate agent, highlights Scarborough’s stunning coastal setting and its proximity to the North York Moors National Park as key attractions. The town not only offers breathtaking views and sandy beaches but also fosters a strong community spirit, making it an ideal place for a fulfilling retirement life.

Nostalgic Appeal

Eleanor Round, another area estate agent, points out that many retirees are drawn to Scarborough due to fond memories of holidays spent there in their youth. The town’s tranquility, seaside location, and beautiful scenery offer a nostalgic and peaceful living environment.

Other Top Spots

Following Scarborough, other popular retirement locations include Conwy in Wales and Chichester in West Sussex, with over-65s comprising more than 27% of their populations. Lewes in East Sussex and Maldon in Essex are also top choices for retirees.

North Norfolk: A Countryside Retreat

The Lure of Rural and Coastal Scenery

When it comes to local authority areas, North Norfolk takes the lead with more than a third of its 105,000 residents over the age of 65. This area, bordering the Norfolk Broads, is a magnet for those seeking a tranquil, semi-rural retirement.

The Appeal of a Slower Pace

Jim McGuire, an estate agent in the area, cites the quiet roads and towns, along with the scenic beauty of fields, woodlands, and sandy beaches, as major draws. These features not only offer aesthetic pleasure but also contribute positively to mental health.

Thriving Towns and Affordable Living

North Norfolk boasts charming towns like Aylsham, Fakenham, and Holt, known for their traditional markets and strong community vibes. The area is affordable for people from the South and Midlands, offering a more affluent lifestyle with a variety of activities and amenities.

Coastal Charm and Historical Richness

The region’s coastline, particularly the Jurassic Coast, is renowned for its beauty and safety. Towns like Cromer and Sheringham provide a lively seaside atmosphere, while Blakeney and Wells Next the Sea offer quieter coastal experiences.

The Changing Face of Retirement

A Shift in Retirement Living

Steve Wilkie of Responsible Life notes a generational shift in retiree behavior. Today’s pensioners are making more deliberate decisions about their retirement locations, seeking areas that offer not just comfort but also a sense of community and fulfillment.

A Growing Trend

The trend is clear: more than half of UK local authorities now have at least a fifth of their population aged 65 and over, a significant increase from a decade ago. By 2050, the over-65s are expected to account for a quarter of the population.

Adapting to New Needs

The older generation is breaking away from traditional stereotypes. They are staying youthful in spirit, aware of their extended life expectancy, and possess considerable purchasing power. This has led to industries adapting to meet their needs, offering them an unprecedented array of choices for their retirement years.


Scarborough and North Norfolk’s emergence as retirement capitals is a testament to their unique blend of natural beauty, community spirit, and cultural richness. These areas offer more than just a place to live; they provide a lifestyle that resonates with today’s active, discerning retirees. As the population ages, these destinations are set to become even more sought after, redefining retirement living in the UK.