Commute an hour from London and you could save £380,000 on the cost of a home

With London's house prices proving prohibitive to many first-time buyers, it's worth looking into commuter towns up to an hour away. After all, it can take that long to cross town.
Ever since railway expansion led to the creation of suburbs and commuter towns, Londoners have been grappling with the relationship between house prices and commuting distance.

Commute for an hour, the maximum most want to travel, and you typically save £380,000 on the cost of a home, according to a survey by Lloyds Bank.

Towns that fall into this category include Crawley, Windsor, Brighton, Rochester and Peterborough, all with annual rail costs of about £5,000.

Cherry-picking a town where there is an average 30-minute commute to London also brings big savings. Among these are Luton, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, Woking, Chelmsford, Hitchin and Reading.

THE TOP TEN COMMUTER AREAS WHERE YOU COULD SAVE UP TO £380,000 ON A HOME:


Homes half the price of zones 1 and 2
Reading is the most popular location for London commuters, with 2.64 million travellers a year. The average house price of £290,358 is half that in the capital’s Zones 1 and 2.

Milton Keynes is another hotspot with an average house price of £222,449. Fast trains into Euston take less than 40 minutes. The centre of the new town, built in 1960, was never intended to be densely residential, more a business and shopping district. However, planning priorities have changed and apartment schemes are springing up on the doorstep of the train station. According to the Centre for Cities policy research unit, it is one of the fastest-growing UK cities by population.

Thomas Mew, a 27-year old civil engineer who works at Canary Wharf, paid £160,000 for a new two-bedroom house at Greenkeepers Mews, a Barratt development near Milton Keynes. “I looked at outer-London locations but even these were way beyond my budget, and besides, the journey to work across London is often longer than a direct commute into the capital,” he says.

Lloyds Bank mortgage director Marc Page says: “Quality of life as well as value-for-money judgments apply. People move further out to get good schools, open space and less crime.”

Basildon, 37 minutes to Fenchurch Street, is another of the South-East’s most affordable commuter addresses. The Essex town is getting a £1billion makeover with up to 1,900 new homes, offices and shops plus a new library, college and sports complex and an extension to the Towngate Theatre. At Morello Quarter, two-bedroom apartments are priced from £157,000. Call Weston Homes on 01268 520512.

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From £56,250: for 25 per cent equity of Affinity Sutton’s flats at Riverside, a development in Godalming, Surrey
Young career professionals working in London are leapfrogging the suburbs to get into shared-ownership homes in the home counties, reports housing association Affinity Sutton, which is offering flats priced from £56,250 - 25 per cent equity - at several schemes in Surrey, including Riverside, in the market town of Goldalming, and The Paddocks, in Guildford.

When opting for shared ownership, buyers need to put down only five per cent of the share being bought, which in most cases means a deposit of less than £5,000. Call 0300 100 0303.

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From £83,250: for 45 per cent of a flat  at Russell Square, Horley town centre

Thames Valley Housing Association confirms similar uptake from London commuters. Its latest scheme is Russell Square in Horley, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty midway between London and Brighton. The town centre apartments surround a landscaped courtyard and come with undercroft parking. Waitrose and the train station are moments away.

Prices start at £185,000. The minimum shared-ownership stake is 45 per cent, or £83,250. Call 020 8607 0550.

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