THE NORTH-EAST is the perfect place to live in many ways, with a coastal or countryside beauty spot whichever direction you go.

County Durham is a myriad of beautiful towns and villages with a bustling city at its heart so it comes as no surprise that many areas have seen a surge in buyer searches, according to the latest Rightmove data.

The new figures reveal the top five most desirable places to live in the county.

Here are the areas in County Durham, categorised by Rightmove, that have seen the biggest increase in interest recently. 

  • Chester-le-Street 

Annual increase in buyer searches: 53 per cent 

The Northern Echo: St Mary and St Cuthbert's Church in Chester le StreetSt Mary and St Cuthbert's Church in Chester le Street

A traditional market town with history dating back to the building of a Roman fort called Concangis, Chester-le-Street's recent history is just as rich. The Jarrow Marchers stopped at the town centre on the first day of their march to London. 

While in County Durham, the town is also close to Sunderland and Newcastle, making it the ideal place for people commuting to any of these North-East cities.

The river Wear also passed through to town, with Lumley Castle sitting on its eastern bank.

Average house asking price: £171,293

  • Durham 

Annual increase in buyer searches: 53 per cent 

The Northern Echo: THE BIG PICTURE: The North-East, seen in all its glory, with an enviable view of Durham City, and England’s favourite building

Durham city is well known for its castle, cathedral and university. A bustling university city through the academic year, Durham in summer offers vast greenery and even wooden boats for its waterway. 

As part of the wider Tyne and Wear Green Belt area, Durham is surrounded by a viaduct, wood and golf course.

With a thriving indoor market at its heart, Durham is also great for small businesses and people who love to shop local.

Average house asking price: £188,702

  • Billingham

Annual increase in buyer searches: 51 per cent 

The Northern Echo: Billingham has a good mix of green spaces and highstreets Billingham has a good mix of green spaces and highstreets

Billingham is a royal charter town known for its beautiful scenery, like Billingham Beck and Charlton's Pond. 

A popular activity here is District 23, an indoor paintball, airsoft and nerf arena - the perfect activity with a group of friends or for the kids' birthdays.

Just north of the Tees, Billingham is close to the coast as well as Stockton and Middlesbrough. 

Average house asking price: £169,729

  • Hartlepool

Annual increase in buyer searches: 44 per cent 

The Northern Echo: Houses line Hartlepool coastlineHouses line Hartlepool coastline

Port town Hartlepool lies on the North Sea and was historically centred around Hartlepool Abbey. Its modern history revolves heavily around the maritime sector, making HMS Trincomalee and the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool popular places to visit.

Regular hosts of Wintertide Festival, a weekend-long event with a parade and fireworks, Hartlepool is a popular tourist spot for nearby towns looking to get their coastal fix. 

The monument Eston Nab can also be seen from Hartlepool, to the south.

Average house asking price: £137,614

  • Darlington 

Annual increase in buyer searches: 43 per cent 

The Northern Echo: Darlington town centreDarlington town centre

A historic market town with its indoor market still at its heart, Darlington lies on the River Skerne and is well-known as home of the railways, with the Head of Steam museum topping the list of things to do here.

The world's first steam locomotive powered permanent passenger railway, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, lead to substantial development of the town. Today, it is connected both regionally and nationally, being on the LNER Mainline. 

Despite a history of industry, Darlington is home to the beautiful South Park, with the likes of Thornton Hall Gardens and Broken Scar close by. 

Average house asking price: £151,066