Compare the costs and cash in on commuting: homes in 15 key commuter areas

The gap between rural and urban house prices has been growing steadily. Now is the time to move to find good value in the country.
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The gap between rural and urban house prices has been growing steadily over the past 12 months. A study by the Office for National Statistics shows prices in London rose 11.6 per cent in the year to November, while the rest of the UK managed only a 5.4 per cent rise over the same period. Exactly how long the capital’s prices will continue to outperform is a matter for debate — and it could all end in tears.

Economic forecaster Ernst & Young takes the line that London is exhibiting “bubble-like” signs, and that such price rises are unsustainable. Others believe prices in the capital will simply begin to gently level off, giving other regions a chance to close the gap.
Most experts feel the latter outcome is most likely. Either way, now is the time to make the change for those London home owners who want to take their profit and plough it into a larger property elsewhere.
Rupert Sweeting, head of estate agent Knight Frank’s country department, believes it is time to move. With some parts of the capital almost 40 per cent above peak prices in 2007, the rest of the country remains 10 to 15 per cent below. But he agrees the gap will inevitably close as price rises ripple out of London.
“Buyers who wait will miss the boat,” he says. “I am seeing a return in confidence in the country. And when I talk to people who are considering selling their homes in the country, they all tell how business is better, how they are employing more people.”
Recent research by Knight Frank documents the cost of commuting and living in 15 key commuter locations. In Henley, as an example, a mortgage on an average-priced property (£318,345) costs £1,017.14 a month to service. The train journey into London is £344 a month, making a total of £1,361.14 to live the rural life in Oxfordshire.

Towns in Surrey’s “Golden Triangle”, Cobham (average property price £619,325), Esher (£442,316) and Guildford (£379,159), have shorter journey times into London than Oxford. But shaving about 15 minutes off your commute doesn’t come cheap. In Cobham the monthly outgoings equal £2,232.80; Esher will cost £1,626.24, and Guildford comes in at £1,543.45. 


£435,000: a three-bedroom cottage near Kemsing and Sevenoaks stations

Lower overall property prices make Tunbridge Wells (average price £249,095) and Sevenoaks (£237,062), Kent’s star commuter towns for affordability, at £1,191.88 and £1,068.43 a month respectively.

Growing numbers of Londoners are leapfrogging the home counties and buying in other cities such as Bath (£254,568) and Oxford (£282,968) where they can afford to enjoy life at the centre — something they cannot do in London. Oxford’s monthly costs come in at £1,343.11, which makes good sense, and not only for home owners.

Renters might be interested to know the average Islington rent is currently £2,215 per calendar month, according to property website Zoopla. Life in the Georgian jewel of Bath will set you back £1,600.37 a month and the train journey takes an hour and a half, but you only have to look at the average house price there to appreciate the attraction.

“There are people in our office buying their first flat in London in places where it will take them 45 minutes to get into central London,” says Sweeting.

“I don’t understand why, when they can buy something bigger and better in the country, or in a country town where they have all the lively wine bars and restaurants, with the same journey time. They say they think London prices will go up more, but I am not so sure.”

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