Much-maligned Basildon has today got something to boast about - it has just been named the South East’s best-value commuter location.
The Essex town tops a league table compiled by property consultant CBRE, which analysed combined property prices and train-fares across the region. It found that, with an average property costing only £163,121 and a monthly travel card coming in at £312.30, the average monthly costs of mortgage plus transport comes in at £893.45.
Dave Smith, of Smith Latcher Property Services, says Basildon’s New Town status is the reason for town’s good value. It was built after the Second World War to rehouse bombed-out East Londoners. “Because the majority of the houses were built by the state they are cheaper than privately built houses,” he said.
Smith says Basildon is also a victim of “the snob factor” and is looked down on by residents of neighbouring towns, like Billericay. “But we have got shopping centres and a hospital and everything you could possibly want,” he said. “There are lots of trees and parks and open spaces, but I must admit that the post war architecture is not great. Pretty it is not.”
Other best-value locations identified in the survey include another Essex town, Harlow, where the monthly cost of a mortgage, plus train fare, comes in at £906.11. Luton, Bedfordshire (£960.69); Hatfield, Hertfordshire (£1,014.17); and Crawley, West Sussex (£1,027.01) make up the study’s top 10 areas.
Other good-value areas are Gravesend, Kent; Stevenage, Hertfordshire; Slough and Reading, both in Berkshire, and Braintree, Essex.
According to the study, for those with larger budgets, Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire is the most expensive place to live, with monthly costs of £3,581.89. Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire (£2,654.22); Sevenoaks in Kent (£2,232.05); Guildford in Surrey (£1,892.95), and Amersham in Buckinghamshire (£1,879.82) complete the five most expensive areas identified.
“As many Londoners consider moving to the leafy suburbs in order to accommodate growing families and a preference for living in more rural surroundings, a rapid rise in house prices has resulted in many of London’s most established commuter hotspots becoming as expensive as central London locations,” warned Jennet Siebrits, head of residential research at CBRE. “Currently, the average house price in Beaconsfield is £918,987; this is considerably more than the majority of boroughs in London.”