Help to Buy:three commuter towns for first-time buyers less than an hour from London

The Government's Help to Buy scheme will go further if you're looking for homes outside the capital. We calculate the deposit, mortgage and travel card costs of buying at three key new-build developments...

Record numbers of young Londoners are leaving the capital, according to a new study which found that 280,000 people moved out of the city last year.

The exodus is being led by those in their twenties and thirties, says the report commissioned by Humberts estate agents, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers opting for houses and flats in the commuter belt.

Help to Buy, the Government’s flagship scheme to help first timers on to the ladder, works better outside London. The 20 per cent equity loan it offers brings homes in quality locations within reach, whereas London prices are so high that even the 40 per cent loan offered in recognition of special circumstances doesn’t always bridge the gap.


For buyers looking beyond London, one of the most exciting options is Ninewells, on the fringes of Cambridge, named best out-of-London development in this year’s Evening Standard New Homes Awards.

The development, by Hill, is being built a 12-minute cycle ride from Cambridge city centre, overlooking the Gog Magog Downs. Full prices start from £345,000 for a one-bedroom flat, or £399,950 for a two-bedroom flat.

From £345,000: flats at Ninewells, a 12-minute bike ride from Cambridge centre

Using a full Help to Buy loan, this would mean raising a five per cent deposit of £17,250 for a one-bedroom flat, and taking a government loan of £69,000 — interest free for the first five years — with a mortgage of £258,750. For two-bedroom flats you would need a £19,997 deposit, a government loan of £79,990, and a mortgage of £299,962.

The service charge is an average of £2,100 a year. Some homes will be ready to move into this month, with the development of 270 properties due to be completed by winter 2018.

All of the delights of Cambridge are minutes away and commuters can easily get to London. Trains take from 50 minutes to King’s Cross — but an annual season ticket costs from a hefty £5,012.


It’s a shame about the name, but Snodland has a setting many will like the sound of, on the River Medway in Kent between historic Rochester and Maidstone.

Help to Buy is available at Holborough Lakes, a Berkeley Homes development near Snodland. This is a glitzy sort of set-up, with homes set around a series of freshwater lakes and 74 acres of parkland. On-site leisure facilities include a gym, nursery, diving school and a new primary school.

From £355,000: for a three-bedroom house at Holborough Lakes, Kent, set around freshwater lakes 

The homes will be move-in ready by the end of this year, and the entire development is due to complete by 2020. Prices start at £355,000 for a three-bedroom house.

Using the full Help to Buy loan this means raising £17,750 deposit, a loan of £142,000, and finding a mortgage of £195,250. Service charges on the development, which include gym membership, are surprisingly reasonable. They range from around £336 to £652 per year depending on the size of the property.

The nearest town is the very average Snodland, which has a couple of pubs and some useful shops. Its biggest plus point is that it is served by High Speed 1. Trains from Snodland to St Pancras take from 52 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs £3,828.


For more of a country lifestyle, Ryarsh Park, by Redrow, is on the fringes of the village of Ryarsh, close to the attractive town of West Malling in Kent. The detached homes are determinedly suburban in style, with bay-fronted houses reminiscent of Thirties London suburbs, and some are ready to move into this month.

From £449,995: four-bedroom homes at Ryarsh Park, near West Malling in Kent, with Help to Buy available

The development of 91 homes will be completed in 2018. Four-bedroom houses are priced from £449,995, which means buyers will need a deposit of £22,500, a mortgage of £337,496, and an equity loan from the Government of £89,999. The service charge at Ryarsh Park comes in at about £600 per year.

Ryarsh itself is a popular village thanks to its pub and its Ofsted “outstanding” primary school, while older pupils will have access to Kent’s grammar school system. It is also a great staging point to explore the Weald of Kent, and the beach at charming Whitstable is less than an hour’s drive away.

For local facilities, West Malling is a nice little market town with a Georgian high street. West Malling also has a station — trains to Victoria take from 50 minutes and an annual season ticket costs £4,176.

Visit Help to Buy for more information about how the scheme works, and to search for homes for sale across the UK.

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