Where to buy in London on a budget:Sidcup and Dartford - two surburban south-east London spots with new homes for first-time buyers

A new generation is discovering the value-for-money homes and fast rail links the suburbs have to offer...

It’s not just families searching for a better quality of life and cheaper property who are moving to the leafy suburbs. 

Singles and couples priced out of inner London are heading for the commuter belt at a time when town-centre regeneration is bringing vitality to the streets and homes that pack a design punch.

Suburban south-east London in particular is recapturing the order it had in the 1950s, when an aspiring post-war generation moved from the bombed-out inner city to the neat and tidy avenues of Eltham, Orpington and Welling.

Now a new generation is discovering the value-for-money homes and fast rail links that attracted bank clerks, factory managers, civil servants and shop workers more than half a century ago.

Keith Richards was studying at Sidcup art college when he met Mick Jagger on a train in 1961 and they decided to form a band called The Rolling Stones. So perhaps there is a bit of rock and roll spirit about the place, less than 12 miles from Charing Cross.

Queen Mary’s Village is a coveted new address in the grounds of a redeveloped hospital in Sidcup, where two-bedroom apartments start at £265,000, or £66,250 for a 25 per cent share. Call 0345 606 1221.

Greenhithe, Ebbsfleet and Dartford, former industrial areas of north Kent, are attracting buyers because of the high-speed rail link to St Pancras. Yet they are still among the cheapest places to live in the Home Counties.

Darent Place, Dartford, has 41 flats, with prices starting at £78,000 for a 40 per cent share. Call 0345 606 1221.

Daisy Musto: "£585 a month. That's less per month than the one-bed flat I was renting previously"

Home at last: City secretary Daisy Musto pays £585 a month for a 35 per cent share of a two-bedroom flat in Essex

Essex commuter towns are on a roll. Regeneration is spreading out from Docklands and touching coastal areas such as Southend and Harwich as well as Colchester, Britain’s first Roman city.

Despite the Thames Estuary industrial legacy, 70 per cent of Essex is countryside, with many delightful villages and some of the country’s best state and independent schools.

Beaulieu is a new 3,600-home neighbourhood with schools, shops, parks and community facilities near Chelmsford.

Daisy Musto, a City secretary, purchased a 35 per cent share of a two-bedroom flat priced at £260,000 and pays £585 a month.

“That’s less per month than the one-bedroom flat I was renting previously. I was desperate to get on the property ladder and have more independence, but prices were out of reach. I’d recommend shared ownership to anyone.”

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