Surprisingly, the latest wave of “London exiters” includes first-time buyers who are encouraged to commute by faster train journeys and affordable homes outside of London.
A new league table revealed today shows that the top choice is Bath and the wider county of Somerset. Typically, commuters are prepared to spend 15 hours a week travelling and are spending an average of £841,237 on their home in the sticks. Almost half of all the homes sold in Bath and north-east Somerset in the past year went to Londoners.
The study, by Hamptons International, also reveals that the number of people quitting London this year has matched pre-recession levels for the first time.
Londoners attracted to the Georgian beauty of Bath were prepared to pay £7,568 on rail fares.
Second in the league table is Rochester, a shorter journey away in Kent.
Bath’s star has risen thanks to the ongoing electrification of the Great Western Main Line, which will cut the journey time to London from about 90 minutes each way to just over an hour by 2017.
“Over this year, the flow of Londoners leaving the capital and buying homes in the south of England continued to grow,” says Johnny Morris, head of research at Hamptons International.
“By the end of the year, Londoners will have bought 63,000 homes outside of the capital, a two thirds increase on last year and the highest since 2007.”
The typical commuter is a young family in search of good schools and rural life for the children. But Morris believes this year’s high figure is down to an increasing number of young professionals who rented in London but never bought.
Those moving to Bath have a wide variety of properties to choose from, ranging from multimillion-pound mansions on the city fringes to modern flats.
Classic four-bedroom townhouses in the city centre are priced between £1.2 million and £1.4 million, but suburbs such as Combe Down, home to Bath University, offer better value with four-bedroom houses priced at about £600,000, and you could buy a two-bedroom cottage or a two-bedroom flat from about £250,000.
In Rochester, another historic city, almost one in three sales are to Londoners, who pay £192,016 on average for their new home.
Cities dominate the top 10 locations outlined in today’s poll, with St Albans in Hertfordshire, Brighton in East Sussex and Chelmsford in Essex all making the list, alongside Luton in Bedfordshire, Slough in Berkshire, Maidstone in Kent, Southend-on-Sea in Essex and Surrey’s commuter favourite, Guildford.