London’ 12 Tube lines could be seen as the blood vessels of the capital's property map, and the Central line is a major artery. Running east-west across London through the main employment centres of Docklands, the City and the West End, it has the greatest total length of track and the fastest trains on the Underground network.
Forty-nine stations line the route, stretching from Epping on the rural eastern edge of London to Ruislip, and the M4 corridor in the west.
Mayfair (Bond Street station) is in the middle, and though this neighbourhood is out of bounds for first-time buyers, there are a number of affordable locations along the line, in inner travel zones as well as the outer reaches.
Leytonstone is one such place. The area is benefiting from the ripple of regeneration spreading out from the Olympic Park in nearby Stratford. Newly-converted flats in a Victorian property in Oliver Road stand out as good value. Prices start at £160,000.
Apartments come with design touches rarely found in this part of the world: hand-made kitchens with Corian worktops and sinks, bespoke wardrobes and cabinets, wooden floors, LCD televisions and Blu-ray DVD players are included in the price. Call estate agent Felicity J Lord on 020 8536 0785.
Sitting high above the busy North Circular Road at the junction with the M11, South Woodford might be dismissed as a polluted and noisy suburban staging post. However, the local shops, which include a Waitrose, tell you something else. It is a prosperous place with a fashionable high street. Younger buyers aspire to it on the way up the ladder and downsizers on the way back. The area is also popular with families because of the good local schools and quick access to the Essex countryside. The Central line takes you to Liverpool Street in 20 minutes, and Epping Forest is a 10-minute walk.
Nine-acre Queen Mary's Gate was once a student campus but its unremarkable accommodation blocks have been demolished to make way for a new gated housing estate (372 homes) in landscaped grounds and with a 24-hour concierge. Car parking has been created underneath a cascading water feature that dominates the landscaping.
A Grade II-listed mansion alongside the entrance to the development provides a sense of arrival. The mansion has been converted into offices and a restaurant with orangery. Prices from £199,000. Call developer Telford Homes on 020 8506 1955.
Epping Forest is one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in the South-East. Less than five minutes from the charming medieval centre of Epping is Hill Top House, a scheme of 13 apartments priced from £249,950. Call Higgins Homes on 01992 575133.
Closer to the central London action is Verdigris Gardens in fast-improving Bethnal Green, a new scheme of 53 apartments launching next month, with completion due in May next year. Prices from £250,000. To register, visit oldbethnalgreen.co.uk, or call Hill Residential on 01223 875400.
Leafy Ealing is known as the "Queen of Suburbs" because of its enviable common and spacious tree-lined streets. Dickens Yard - a town-centre regeneration scheme bringing 698 new flats, one of this year's biggest launches - introduces a fresh ingredient, a Docklands-style complex of homes overlooking public squares and pedestrianised lanes that has been brought to life with shops, restaurants, markets and street theatre.
Belgravia Apartments, the first phase of Dickens Yard, starts at £269,950, within first-time buyer range, and comes with a package of extras: a smart hotel-like entrance foyer with 24-hour concierge, underground parking and residents-only gym. Call developer St George on 020 8568 1100.
As well as being on the Central line, Ealing will benefit from Crossrail, the new east-west route due in 2017. Travelling times to Bond Street, the City (Farringdon station) and Canary Wharf will be almost halved (to 15, 20 and 29 minutes respectively). Five stations in Ealing borough are due to be upgraded and served by Crossrail, and the council is in the forefront of Mayor Boris Johnson's cycling initiative enhancing routes and links around train stations.
Acton, located between Ealing and Shepherd's Bush, is somewhat gritty but has pretty pockets where regeneration is making a difference. The Park House, going up on the corner of Horn Lane and Rosemont Road, has apartments in five-storey blocks with balconies overlooking Springfield Gardens, an open green space, and is only a five-minute walk from the Tube. Prices start at £250,000. Call Barratt on 020 8326 7292.
West Ruislip, at the end of the line, has a new 66-home development in the town-centre conservation area. Called Orchard Grove, prices start at £199,999. Developer Linden Homes is offering a first-time-buyer furnishings incentive worth £1,000. Call 01895 827456.