When Londoners buy a second home it would be natural to think the top choice would be a Cotswolds cottage or a Cornish bolt hole, but newly released Census data shows Wiltshire has more second home owners from the capital than any other local authority area in the country.
It outshines the West Country and the Isles of Scilly, in joint second place, the sailors’ favourite, Chichester, in third, the bright lights of Brighton, fourth, and sweet, sugar-pink Suffolk, which completes the top five.
Wiltshire homes are cheaper and the commute is relatively easy, says Johnny Morris, head of residential research at Hamptons International, which published the findings. “The M4 runs through it and if the Swindon train line is quite expensive, it is also quick. You can get there in a couple of hours after work. Londoners aren’t willing to spend most of their spare time travelling.”
Andrew Rome, a partner at Knight Frank, covers eastern Wiltshire, and recommends the small cathedral city of Salisbury, “surrounded by unspoilt countryside”.
IMAGE GALLERY: TOP 20 SECOND HOME HOTSPOTS FOR LONDONERS
Second home hotspots for Londoners
Second home hotspots for Londoners
Londoners with second homes: 3,629
Average property price: £245,901
£245,000: this three-bedroom thatched cottage in the popular village of Nethervaon is about 10 miles from Salisbury.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Wiltshire
2/20 Cornwall/ Isles of Scilly
Londoners with second homes: 3,314
Average property price: £224,440
£249,950: Wayward Cottage in the small village of Raftra, near St Levan, has three bedrooms and sea views.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in the Isles of Scilly
Londoners with second homes: 2,714
Average property price: £364,536
£349.950: this pretty detached cottage with a large log cabin is located just outside the centre of the city.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Chichester
4/20 Brighton and Hove
Londoners with second homes: 2,348
Average property price: £303,570
£300,000: this two-bedroom modern and comfortable home is moments walk from Brighton's city centre.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Brighton and Hove
5/20 Suffolk Coastal
Londoners with second homes: 2,339
Average property price: £251,332
Guide price £270,000: located on a small development, this four-bedroom house is within a short distance of the coast and numerous countryside walks.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Suffolk Coastal
Londoners with second homes: 2,041
Average property price: £346,936
£345,000: superb rural views accompany this extended four-bedroom cottage.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Cotswold
7/20 Isle of Wight
Londoners with second homes: 1,854
Average property price: £203,242
£200,000: this Grade 2 listed building in East Cowes has been converted from a school house.
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Londoners with second homes:
Average property price: £242,351
£275,000: this period semi-detached house still contains many original features including fireplaces and sash windows.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Canterbury
Londoners with second homes: 1,594
Average property price: £255,299
£249,950: situated in a sought-after location close to Rother and Bexhill town center, this ground floor Victorian conversion flat comes with off-road parking.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Rother
10/20 New Forest
Londoners with second homes: 1,593
Average property price: £300,563
£305,000: a picturesque three-bedroom semi-detached house, situated close to the bustling village of Lyndhurst.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in New Forest
11/20 North Norfolk
Londoners with second home: 1,515
Average property price: £213,453
£219,950: this semi detached town house has excellent links to the City centre and A11.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in North Norfolk
12/20 West Dorset
Londoners with second homes: 1,503
Average property price: £274,519
£279,950: this attached period cottage enjoys stunning panoramic views across the Marshwood vale towards Lyme Regis.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in West Dorset
Londoners with second homes: 1,452
Average property price: £181,971
£120,000: this three-bedroom home takes a corner position. Located in the Old Town area of Skelmersdale, the M6 and M58 motorways are nearby.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Thanet
Londoners with second homes: 1,378
Average property price: £221,946
£220,000: The Old Stables is a one-bedroom cottage in the oldest part of Westbury on Trym Village, with easy access to the city centre and the M4/M5.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Bristol
Londoners with second homes: 1,341
Average property price: £173,320
£190,000: Close to the bustling market town of Morley, this detached three-bedroom home is tuckled away on a cul-de-sac and has a huge rear conservatory.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Leeds
Londoners with second homes: 1,318
Average property price: £393,277
£425,000: a well-presented three-bedroom home on the sought after Little Oxford development, conveniently located for the local public transport network.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Oxford
Londoners with second homes: 1,296
Average property price: £304,880
£320,000: a three-bedroom cottage dating back around 300 years, with easy access to local shopping and transport, and just a short stroll to open countryside.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Wealden
18/20 West Oxfordshire
Londoners with second homes: 1,294
Average property price: £298,216
£289,950: a modern townhouse built in the traditional style with spacious and flexible living in Chipping Norton.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in West Oxfordshire
Londoners with second homes: 1,260
Average property price: £202,653
£210,000: close to the town centre, this three-bedroom home is even closer to Dover Priory main-line railway station, with the fast-link train to London St Pancras.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in Dover
20/20 West Norfolk
Londoners with second homes: 1,251
Average property price: £186,032
£186,000: this three-bedroom detached chalet has parking for several vehicles and a low maintenance rear-garden.
> Search for houses and flats for sale in King's Lynn and West Norfolk
The cathedral, and Salisbury’s location eight miles from Stonehenge, bring in tourists, so there are plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants, although it is a bit heavy on chain stores for some. Trains to Waterloo take an hour and 23 minutes and while an annual season ticket costs a punishing £5,236, you can get a three-bedroom Victorian terrace house for about £400,000.
Homes within the historic city walls, known as The Close, are considerably more — about £600,000 for a two-bedroom flat near the cathedral, and £5 million for a Thames-side Georgian detached home in an acre of gardens.
About 12 miles west of Salisbury, in the Nadder Valley, part of the West Wiltshire Downs area of outstanding natural beauty, sits Tisbury. It has a station, but the trip to Waterloo of an hour and 48 minutes makes it better for weekending — as does the £6,320 season ticket.
The pretty high street has useful shops, and homes are built from local green sandstone. A three-bedroom cottage is about £300,000 while a house with four or five bedrooms and a decent garden, with an easy walk to the station, would start from about £500,000.
The Woodford Valley, north of Salisbury, offers beautiful countryside. In the village of Great Durnford, with its pink brick houses and good pub, a three-bedroom thatched cottage would cost about £600,000.
£995,000: a refurbished period house with landscaped gardens in the lovely village of Swallowcliffe
Kate Middleton's old haunts
Marlborough, the affluent market town where the Duchess of Cambridge spent her hockey-playing schooldays, has good shops and restaurants, and annual jazz and literary festivals. A few miles outside is the historic village of Ramsbury in the Kennet Valley. Its primary school has an “outstanding” Ofsted rating and there’s a small parade of shops, plus plenty of sports clubs.
Trains from Hungerford, about five miles away, take from an hour and eight minutes to Paddington, and an annual season ticket costs £5,292. Buyers pay a premium for a Georgian or Victorian house in Ramsbury. Prices range from £500,000 for a three-bedroom period house up to about £1 million for a five- bedroom family house with gardens.
Electrification of the Great Western Railway, due to finish by 2017, is boosting Chippenham, further west. The Paddington journey will be cut to about an hour, and house prices could rise by up to 20 per cent. Lovely local villages include olde-worlde Castle Combe, on the River Bybrook six miles away, where War Horse was filmed.
£2.25 million: The Chandry is a handsome Grade II-listed country house in Mere, Wiltshire (Call Savills on 01722 426 800)
It has an upmarket pub and the smart Manor Hotel and golf course, but no school. It’s not cheap — a two-bedroom cottage costs about £500,000 and you would pay up to £3 million for a manor house.
At Kington Langley, a quality village three miles north of Chippenham, two-bedroom cottages start from about £250,000, and a six-bedroom family house in a couple of acres would be about £850,000. There’s a park and two pubs, but the primary school “requires improvement”, says Ofsted.