The mantra is: the further you travel from London, the cheaper property becomes.
But it's not always true. From London Bridge, for example, the furthest-flung commuting option, Penshurst in Kent, is also the priciest: stunning village, good looks, high-achieving schools and abundant countryside are responsible.
The closest option is Orpington, just 15 minutes by train and with all the facilities of a lively suburb, while Earlswood, 39 minutes by train, tops the list of good-value locations highlighted by estate agent Savills, based on price, quality of life and growth potential.
Journey time: 15 minutes
Annual season ticket: £1,448
Average house price: £282,000
Detached house price: £497,000
Ten-year price growth: 102 per cent
Yes, Orpington sounds a bit dreary. But cast aside any prejudices: not only is it a laughably easy commute, there is some great housing if you know where to look. The south side of town is the most desirable and David Roberts, manager of Andrews Estate Agents, says you could pick up a three-bedroom semi, from the Thirties or Fifties, for £285,000.
If your budget is larger you could look at Orpington Knoll, the poshest address in town. There you could buy a three- to four-bedroom double-fronted Thirties masterpiece for about £600,000.
Farnborough Park and Keston Park are both less than 10 minutes' drive from the station and are where Orpington's really impressive homes, many in private gated developments, are to be found. A five-bedroom house (including new-build) would cost around £1 million.
One of Orpington's big strengths is its schools. St James's Roman Catholic Primary School is rated "excellent" by watchdog Ofsted, as are St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School (boys) and Darrick Wood School (mixed).
The high street, while a little bland, is well-stocked with chain stores, and there is also a general market. For the sports-minded there is an embarrassment of riches: the Walnuts Leisure Centre, home of the town's swimming and gymnastic clubs, and Goddington Park, with rugby, football and cricket pitches. The Orpington Road Runners meet on a Tuesday, and the Knoll Lawn Tennis Club and Bromley Tennis Centre cater for enthusiasts.
Journey time: 39 minutes
Annual season ticket: £2,188
Average house price: £246,000
Detached house price: £430,000
Ten-year price growth: 98 per cent
A peaceful Victorian suburb of Redhill, Earlswood has good housing stock priced below the stamp duty threshold and plenty of open space to enjoy.
Stephen Muggridge, a director of Woodlands Estate Agents, says two-bedroom terrace homes go from £220,000, and three-bedrooms for under £250,000.
If you have a little more to spend, Brambletye Park Road is considered the smartest address, and you could pick up a detached three-bedroom house for around £400,000 or a four or five-bedroom family house at around the £500,000 mark. A one-bedroom conversion flat would start at about £125,000.
Earlswood is light on facilities: there is a general store, a couple of pubs and a health club, as well as the popular Indian restaurant Ruchita. Better is the open space. Earlswood Common is close by, as are the Earlswood lakes for boating.
Redhill itself is only a mile or so away and its town centre has plenty of shops and restaurants. There is also a busy weekly market and, for culture, the Harlequin Theatre. The town even has its own annual music festival, Redfest (redfest.co.uk).
Schools are a slightly moot point in Earlswood. Brambletye Junior School can only manage a "satisfactory" rating from Ofsted, but seniors go on to schools in Redhill and parents fight for a place at St Bede's School which is rated "outstanding".
Journey time: 51 minutes
Annual season ticket: £2,400
Average house price: £364,000
Detached house price: £489,000
Ten-year price growth: 94 per cent
Penshurst is one of the most beautiful villages in Kent - but its looks come at a price. It sits on the northernmost slopes of The Weald, and is part of the North Weald Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty. The village is ranged around Penshurst Place, a stunning stately home partially open to the public (and with glorious gardens).
According to David Johnston, of Savills, property at the heart of the village ranges from two- and three-bedroom Victorian and Edwardian cottages, priced from £400,000 to about £900,000. There are also some areas of more modern houses - the convenient, but bland, Seventies family homes at The Latimers sell from around £650,000.
If you want to push the boat out, Gavin Selbie, of Jackson-Stops & Staff, who says the cachet of the village means it attracts a 10 per cent premium on other Kent villages, suggests a listed period farmhouse for between £1.5million and £2 million, while trophy country homes with land and possibly a separate cottage, go from £1.75 million to £4 million.
As for facilities, the town has three pubs and a small shop, but both Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are close by for retail therapy. The village also has a school, Penshurst CE Primary School, judged "outstanding" by Ofsted. Penshurst parents are desperate to get their children through the 11-plus so they can go to one of the fantastic grammar schools in Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells.
Pictures by Barry Phillips