There are lots of reasons why you may be considering a new life away from London. The vibrant culture of the capital is a huge draw, but as we get older and start thinking about settling down and starting a family, the attractions we look for on our doorstep can change. Be it good schools or open spaces, there’s the cost of living in the city too: with property prices soaring as high as the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, commuting to London often makes perfect sense.
What is the London commuter belt?
Quite simply, the London commuter belt is an area around the capital which offers a viable journey into the city for work. It doesn’t have set boundaries, as what’s practical is affected by property prices, where you work, and the availability of different methods of travel, including road and rail routes. Oxford, for example, can still be classed as being within the belt despite being almost 60 miles away, thanks to trains to London that take around 50 minutes. In a recent survey, 40% of London-based home owners are looking for good transport links in their next move.
Where should I live around London?
Whether you want to live in a quiet, peaceful village, a vibrant town or on the coast, there are so many different options to choose from, catering for all kinds of personal circumstances. It’s important to find somewhere that matches your budget as well as your taste though. For instance, you may be attracted by the proximity of Watford to London, with trains taking less than 20 minutes. However, the average property sale price in the Hertfordshire town over the last three months of 2019 was £440,000. Swindon meanwhile had an average of less than £245,000 over the same period. Located in Wiltshire, it’s one of the London commuter towns furthest from the capital, but you can cover the 80-mile journey in less than an hour on the train. A season ticket for the train may cost almost £6,000 more per year than one from Watford – £9,000 compared to £3,200 – but you can weigh this up against a potential saving of nearly £200,000 when you buy a home. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best places to commute to London from.
Top commuter towns
If you’re looking for a town which offers a 30 minute commute to London or less, St Albans in Hertfordshire could be perfect for you. It takes a shade under 20 minutes to get to St Pancras on the train, while average house prices of around £380,000, a range of outstanding schools and low crime rates are also enticing for families.
A charming market town surrounded by swathes of stunning natural beauty, Dorking is also known for its excellent schools. With average house prices hovering around the £500,000 mark, it’s reasonably priced by Surrey standards. Although trains to Waterloo usually take just over 50 minutes, the cost of an annual season ticket is only around £3,500, which is also very reasonable for the South East.
Top commuter seaside towns
If you’ve got your heart set on moving to the seaside, the vibrant East Sussex town of Brighton has so much to offer. In addition to a host of beaches and waterfront attractions, a train journey of under an hour to reach several London stations means it’s perfectly viable as a commuter town. A season ticket costs almost £5,000 per year, but with average house prices sitting around the £400,000 mark, property is much more affordable than in Central London – which doesn’t boast a beach or pier.
Perched on the Thames Estuary, Essex resort town Southend-on-Sea could be ideal if you’d rather be on the east coast than the south. London’s Fenchurch Street station is around 55 minutes away, while the season ticket cost of approximately £3,500 is more than offset by the average property price of just over £300,000.
Top commuter villages
With a 50-minute journey to Liverpool Street station, Wendens Ambo is one of the most picturesque commutable villages to London you could hope to find. The average house value may be approaching £700,000, but its pretty cottages and popular local pub are complemented by a great location. As well as being close to the capital, the M11 motorway passes nearby, while Stansted Airport is only 15 minutes away from this Essex village on the train.
Found just to the north of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you can get to both London Bridge and Victoria in less than 50 minutes from this ancient village in Surrey. With property valued at around £530,000 on average, a season ticket for the train costs just over £3,500, while Lingfield is popular for its rural feel, attractive centre and useful amenities which include a couple of pubs and the local racecourse.
How to decide if moving out of London is right for you
When considering whether to apply for your finance through a mortgage broker or bank, you may want to think about what a broker can offer you. Acting as an intermediary between yourself and the lender, a broker could save you a lot of time and effort when applying for a mortgage. They should be able to pinpoint the best of the latest deals for you to choose between, while also liaising with the lender and potentially other parties such as lawyers and estate agents. A broker can also point you in the direction of a lender you’re most likely to be accepted with, which may protect your credit rating, and they’ll also help you with the application process to make things run as smoothly as possible.
There are lots of things you need to take into account before you decide to move away from London. Whether local amenities and attractions, pace of life, family concerns or work and cost considerations are foremost in your thoughts, you need to examine what you’re sacrificing compared to what you’re gaining.
Striking a balance between these things is crucial, so why not create a list of positives and negatives of leaving London for the place you’re interested in moving to, and give each point a rating between one and five relating to how important it is to you? This could help you weigh up your options in a clearer fashion, guiding you towards the best decision possible.
If you decide that it’s time to move, don’t miss our downloadable conveyancing guide for all the information you need on the legal process.
Disclaimer: This article is for informal and general advice regarding information on best places to live to commute to London