Skip to content

A match made in Devon? Why you should retire there

With some of the best beaches the country has to offer, stunning landscapes, historical sites and cultural attractions, Devon is a fantastic place to live. Here are some highlights of Plymouth, the South Hams and Exeter. Noss-Mayo-1

A good deal of the time we spend with clients is devoted to addressing key questions about retirement, most notably “when can I retire?” and “how much will I need?” They’re sensible questions, but retiring doesn’t represent your destination, it’s a key milestone as you transition into a new period of your life. For that reason it’s just as important to turn your attention to what you’ll spend your time doing once you get there.

In this article, just for a change, we’d like to focus on the ‘where’ rather than the ‘when’. We’re based in Devon, which we think is a wonderful place to live and to retire – naturally we’re a little biased, but we’ve drawn together a few highlights to support our case. So make yourself some tea, spread the cream on your scones before the jam* and read on.

(*This is the correct way to enjoy a cream tea. While some people in neighbouring areas may advocate a jam-first approach, this is categorically wrong!)

Let’s start with Plymouth

While we work throughout the South West, Plymouth is where it all began for us and where our main office remains today. The city has plenty of sights to see and things to do, which we’ll get to in a moment, but first a word on why it’s suited to retirement in particular.

A 2019 survey named the city as the best place in the UK to retire, citing affordable homes, low crime rates, attention to accessibility and a high number of leisure activities per capita.

Plymouth has a rich maritime heritage. In keeping with that you’ll find a host of historically significant locations, including Plymouth Hoe, which sits on the seafront and enjoys commanding views over Plymouth Sound, Drake’s Island and across to Mount Edgcumbe (just over the border in Cornwall) as well as boasting the iconic Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse. It's also where you can see the sky light up with the spectacular British Fireworks Championships each summer.

Incidentally, Plymouth Hoe is also the site of Francis Drake’s legendary insistence on finishing his game of bowls before beating the Spanish Armada. 

Plymouth Hoe

There’s more to Plymouth than history, though. The city has a thriving arts and culture scene, with an award-winning museum and art gallery housed in The Box, and live music from major artists at the Hoe each summer. A great place for a wander is The Barbican – a collection of shops, restaurants and cafes set against the backdrop of the harbour. If you have the grandkids in tow, the National Marine Aquarium is a must and when it’s time to eat, Plymouth offers a cornucopia of choices including a smattering of celebrity-run restaurants, all taking advantage of the fresh produce supplied by local farms and fishermen. The Flavour Fest and Seafest festivals showcase the best of local food and drink each year. 

And then there’s gin. The Plymouth Gin Distillery uses a recipe that dates back to 1793 and parts of the distillery are several centuries older. The tour allows you to trace the Plymouth Gin distillation process, with a short tutored tasting and a chance to enjoy more gin afterwards in the cocktail bar upstairs. The distillery has a stairlift to access the tours and a lift to the bar, which is handy, because even if you don’t need them going in, you may need them when you leave!

The South Hams area

With free time on your hands when you're retired, you’ll have every opportunity to explore Devon's stunning countryside and get out of the city from time to time. Devon is lucky to have the South Hams – almost 900 square kilometres of rural and coastal land, much of it a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The South Hams area is of course a gift for nature lovers with stunning vistas and nature reserves, but the area is also home to many picture-postcard towns and villages, all of which are well worth taking the time to explore. The coastal town of Salcombe, for example, is ideal for relaxing by the water (there's a local gin to sample here too!), while the larger towns of Kingsbridge and Totnes – both historic market towns and tourist hubs offer a more lively experience.

River Dart

The South Hams are also home to more than 30 beaches, ranging from more popular, family oriented seaside locations like Bigbury Beach with its shallow waters and rock pools, to more secluded options. The wonderfully named Sugary Cove, on the mouth of the River Dart, is hidden away at the bottom of a stone staircase off the South West Coast Path as it heads to the historic maritime town of Dartmouth. If history is your thing, you’ll find plenty of that too, in Dartmouth Castle, Totnes Castle and Berry Pomeroy Castle, all English Heritage sites. If you’d rather let someone else make the effort, the South Devon Railway runs through some of Devon’s most beautiful countryside, following the course of the River Dart.

A quick look at Exeter

On the other side of the South Hams from Plymouth, Exeter is another Goodmans office location. It’s also worth serious consideration, providing a base to not only the rest of Devon, but also Somerset and South Wales. A small city, Exeter nonetheless offers plenty of history, predating the Romans, who decided to build city walls, the remains of which you can still see. There’s the magnificent Exeter Cathedral, a vibrant arts scene and a real mix of independent restaurants, cafes and shops, as well as the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery and the 14th century underground passages – not one for the claustrophobic.

Exeter Cathedral and around

Exeter also benefits from great travel connections. By train you can be in Taunton in under half an hour, Bristol, Plymouth and Yeovil are all an hour away, and if you prefer to drive, it’s just half an hour to reach Dartmoor, or Exmouth for the sea. There’s also Exeter airport that connects to other locations around the UK and serves many popular European sun destinations like the Canary Islands and Cyprus.

Planning for a good life

For us, Devon is home, and we hope we’ve enticed you to take a look at the area yourself. Even if you're not sure where you’d like to end up, keep this in mind: as important as it is to ask yourself how you’ll reach the retirement you want, it’s just as vital to know what you’ll do when you arrive. Planning for retirement means thinking ahead and playing the long game – you need to understand what you want to get out of life and aim for that.

At Goodmans, we've been helping people define and achieve the retirement they want, throughout the South West and beyond, for three decades. Contact us to help steer your financial planning in the right direction, wherever that might be.