The average age at which people move out of London and begin commuting back in for work is 32 - with starting a family the prime motivation for the lifestyle change.
A Hamptons International study found up to 550,000 Londoners leave the city each year, mostly to new homes in the South-East and the West of England. The majority have a young family, or plan to start one, and may not be able to afford a flat in the city, let alone a family house.
However, it’s a common misconception that as soon as you pass the M25 it will be possible to pick up a dream country home for a pittance. In reality, an average detached house in Kent costs £374,000, rising to £587,591 in Hertfordshire, and hitting £700,908 in Surrey, according to property and house prices website Zoopla.
Which means shared ownership is as vital in the home counties as it is in central London. The problem is, the standard of the build, and the location, are often disappointing, while the lack of architectural imagination displayed by some developers beyond the capital can be staggering. There are, however, exceptions.
Haddenham, one of Buckinghamshire's best villages, has direct transport links to Marylebone
Haddenham, one of Buckinghamshire’s best villages, lies about two miles from Thame and five from Aylesbury. Trains from Haddenham & Thame Parkway to Marylebone take from 40 minutes, and an annual season ticket is £4,520. This scenic village has thatched cottages, duck ponds, a small high street, its own junior school, and is in the catchment area for Aylesbury’s grammar schools.
Catalyst Housing has 18 two- and three-bedroom houses available at its Thame Fields development, a few minutes’ walk from the station. A 35 per cent share of a two-bedroom house with a full market value of £240,000 costs £84,000. Buyers will also need to budget monthly for rent of £357.50 and £34.61 service charge. Three-bedroom homes cost from £101,000 for a 35 per cent share — full price £290,000. The rent starts at £431.93 per month, and service charge is £35.86 a month.
For £128,250 you can buy a 45 per cent share of a three-bedroom home with a garden at Jeanett's View, in Bracknell, Berks
If you prefer a more rural feel, Thames Valley Housing has 42 semi-detached and terrace houses at Jennett’s Park close to Bracknell. Nearly half of this development’s 270 acres is devoted to open space, with footpaths and cycle ways, meadows, woodland and playing fields, and there are 1,400 homes in all. At the final phase, Jennett’s View, prices start from £128,250 for 45 per cent of a three-bedroom townhouse with garden and parking — full market price £285,000. Total monthly costs are about £920. Four-bedroom homes cost from £145,125 for 45 per cent, full price £322,500. Monthly costs are about £1,033.
Bracknell has two stations, Bracknell and Martins Heron, and trains to Waterloo take from 55 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £3,392. Jennett’s Park also has a dedicated bus service connecting with the town centre two miles away. Bracknell has a water park, dry ski slope, football, rugby, hockey and cricket clubs, plus an arts centre, a theatre, a cinema, and a good range of shops and restaurants.
Jennett’s Park CofE Primary School “requires improvement”, says Ofsted. But in Bracknell itself, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School is rated “outstanding”, while Garth Hill College, for seniors, is considered “good”.
Polegate, East Sussex
£76,000 will buy you 40 per cent of a two-bedroom house at The Sidings in Polegate, East Sussex
Lovers of the great outdoors could do worse than Polegate, on the tip of the South Downs National Park and about six miles from Eastbourne beach.
Raglan Housing has 20 townhouses for sale at The Sidings in the town centre, about half a mile from the station. Trains to Victoria take from an hour and 20 minutes and an annual season ticket costs £4,352. Polegate has a decent range of shops and while it is a bit of a retirement spot, lively Brighton is only 20 miles along the coast. Polegate School is rated “good with outstanding features” by Ofsted. A 40 per cent share of a two-bedroom house at The Sidings is £76,000 — full value £190,000 — with estimated monthly costs, including rent and service charge, of £658.50. Three-bedroom semis, full value £235,000, cost £94,000 for 40 per cent, with monthly costs of about £808.