Commuting to London:top 15 areas to buy a home within 60 minutes of the capital - from Chelmsford to Windsor and Eton

There are plenty of towns and villages offering good-value homes within a 60-minute commute of London - if you know where to look. We get the lowdown on journey times, top schools and property prices at 15 of the best...

A 60-minute journey from London brings in range endless options at all price ranges for those considering leaving the capital, whether you want a busy modern town or the sleepier historic option, a quintessentially pretty village or wide open countryside.

Here are five more of the best:

CHELMSFORD, ESSEX

What it costs: An average home costs just under £275,000, up 17 per cent in the past two years. A typical flat costs £178,000 while an average house costs £335,000 (source: Savills).

The commute: 34 minutes to Liverpool Street. An annual season ticket costs £4,748.

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Heart of Essex: the Shire Hall in the centre of Chelmsford (Alamy)

Top schools: King Edward VI Grammar — Kegs as it is known locally — is one of the top secondary schools in the UK. It is boys-only until the sixth form, but younger girls can opt for the excellent Chelmsford County High School.

Who it would suit: Those who want it all: mod cons in the town centre, gorgeous rolling Essex countryside on the doorstep. The town centre is stuffed with chain stores, useful but a bit cloneish, while Old Moulsham has an excellent mix of cafés and independent shops. The town’s sports facilities are particularly good, and Stansted Airport is a 20-minute drive away.

And the downsides? Not much period property in the town centre (though many modern homes) — for country charm head to a satellite village like Great Baddow.

 

WINDSOR AND ETON, BERKSHIRE

What it costs: An average home costs £501,000, up 16 per cent in the last two years. An average house sells for £596,000, and an average flat for £365,000 (source: Savills).

The commute: 51 minutes to Paddington or 56 to Waterloo. An annual season ticket costs £2,904.

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Charming streets: Windsor is best enjoyed away from the tourists (Alamy)

Top schools: Besides Eton College, Windsor’s state schools are a slightly mixed bag of top performers and those Ofsted says “require improvement”. St Edward’s Catholic First School, Hilltop First School, and Windsor Girls’ School (senior) are all rated outstanding.

Who it would suit: Royal watchers who like the Queen’s wide open spaces and do not mind aircraft noise. Windsor is full of tourists but its Great Park has the Thames running by it, plus splendid Georgian homes and some charming streets of terraces and cottages. Leisure could be boating, horse riding and golfing. Windsor has a decent shopping centre for wet days, and some independent shops around the old town. It is rammed with not very good restaurants, bars and cafés — too many chains. Locals head out to nearby villages to eat at gorgeous pubs like The Royal Oak in Paley Street and Michelin-star favourites in Bray.

And the downsides? It’s noisy on the flight path, and expensive. You could easily spend millions on one of Windsor’s landmark Georgian townhouses with castle views; and even a two-bedroom Georgian cottage is about £500,000. On the upside a three-bedroom 1930s semi costs between £350,000 to £400,000. Year round you will trip over American tourists who have come to tour Eton, breeding ground for our prime ministers, and enjoy the Queen’s home.

 

LUTON, BEDFORDSHIRE

What it costs: Cheapest of the bunch, with average property prices just over £194,000, up 28 per cent in two years. Houses cost an average of £222,000 and flats £221,000 (source: Savills).

The commute: Just 23 minutes to St Pancras. Annual season ticket is £3,960.

Top schools: Plenty of well-regarded primaries, and Barnfield South Academy, Barnfield West Academy, and Cardinal Newman Catholic School (all seniors) are all rated “good” by Ofsted.

Who it would suit: Those who need bang for their buck: value is exceptional. A three- to four-bedroom 1930s house is about £350,000. For a more rural feel, two or three miles north are pretty villages — Offley and Lilley are the picks.

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Pretty villages: Offley is near Luton

And the downsides? Luton regularly stars in league tables of Britain’s ugliest towns. The town centre is dreary.

What Luton does have is hope. An influx of London buyers can make huge changes, and the local council plans to invest £1.5 billion over the next 20 years, including redevelopment of the airport, regeneration of the run-down High Town area and The Mall shopping centre, hundreds of new homes, shops and restaurants in a series of mixed developments, and a new football stadium.

 

PETERSFIELD, HAMPSHIRE

What it costs: Average price is £372,000, up 12 per cent in two years. A house costs an average of £416,000, flats £194,000 (source: Savills).

The commute: Slight cheat — fastest trains to Waterloo take an hour and three minutes — but its qualities make up for the extra 180 seconds on the train. An annual season ticket is £4,308.

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Perfect country town: Petersfield has dreamy property, a twice-weekly market, plus good shops and restaurants (Alamy)

Top schools: Petersfield Infant School is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, while Herne Junior School and The Petersfield School (seniors) both rate as “good”.

Who it would suit: Those who dream of the perfect country town, tucked into the South Downs. Because of its low profile and distance from London, Petersfield is neither a tourist trap nor a commuter dormitory town. The property is dreamy, whether you want a barn conversion with views of open fields, a proper country pile with pony paddocks, a Georgian townhouse or a pretty little cottage. There is a twice-weekly market, plus good shops and restaurants.

And the downsides? That slowish commute is a grind. If you can’t afford a character family house in the centre of Petersfield (up to £1 million) you could find yourself pushed to a new build development on the outskirts of town — better value but less charm.

 

THE CHALFONTS, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

What it costs: An expensive option with average price of £705,000, up 23 per cent in the past two years. Houses cost an average £742,000, and flats come in at £290,000 (source: Savills).

The commute: Chalfont & Latimer station is right out in Zone 8(!) of the Tube. Alternatively mainline services to Marylebone take 35 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £3,036.

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Something for everyone: Market Place at Chalfont St Peter (Alamy)

Top schools: This is a grammar school area. Selective Dr Challoner’s High School is one of the UK’s top state girls schools, with an “outstanding” Ofsted report. Both Little Chalfont Primary School and Chalfont St Peter Infant School get top marks too.

Who it would suit: The four Chalfont villages have something for everyone. Little Chalfont isn’t amazingly pretty but it has the station, Dr Challoner’s, reasonable shops and is handy for the M25. Chalfont St Peter is bigger, not exactly attractive, with several pubs, decent shops, a tennis club, golf course and proximity to Gerrards Cross.

Chalfont St Giles is adorable with its cottages around a village green with pond and has countryside good looks, while Chalfont Heights is posh with a private gated estate. All the Chalfonts are in easy reach of the Chilterns.

And the downsides? It’s not cheap, and it has a bit of a dormitory feel. Its swift commute has long made the Chalfonts a commuter hotspot, so if you dream of escaping London types you might struggle here.


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