The best Essex villages for London commuters:where to look for good-value country homes with 60-minute commutes to the capital

A pleasant countryside atmosphere awaits commuters in Essex towns and villages with good schools and big family homes.

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The most popular commuter hotspot in Essex, Ingatestone beats scores of better-known villages and towns in the county, a new study shows. Deep in the countryside, the village has a high street that wouldn’t shame a small town, cricket and tennis clubs, and a clutch of pubs for post-match drinks.

Analysis by Savills of the price performance of homes close to every commuter station in Essex outside Greater London, but within a 65-minute journey of the centre, found Ingatestone has seen the strongest price growth in the past five years.

This stellar performance was buoyed by its excellent commuter trains, good schools, country village vibe and proximity to Crossrail.

“The strong transport links to London are always going to be popular,” says James Millar, branch manager of Beresfords Estate Agents. “Trains to Liverpool Street only take about half an hour, and we are one stop from Shenfield which is on the Crossrail line, so things are only going to get better.”

A sophisticated village for Londoners to love

Ingatestone feels like a proper village, with several dozen societies and clubs, and busy restaurants and pubs. But Londoners like its sophisticated edge — probably why it is the most expensive location in the study, with an average house price of £580,852. 

A two-bedroom period cottage would set you back £400,000 to £550,000, a post-war three-bedroom house would cost in the region of £550,000, or a four-bedroom detached house starts from about £800,000. 

£550,000: this five-bedroom home in Ingatestone has an open-plan kitchen/living area overlooking a pretty terrace and large rear garden

Where to buy on a budget 

Another top-performing Essex spot, Ockendon has seen a 54 per cent average price rise in the period, to £248,181. The commute to Fenchurch Street takes 33 minutes. Tilbury Town, with a 42-minute commute to Fenchurch Street and prices of £201,449, has seen a 51 per cent hike.

Basildon - 37 minutes to Fenchurch Street and with average house prices of £227,885 - has also seen strong rises of 50 per cent. Key areas include Kingswood, the closest suburb to the station, where a three-bedroom mid-century terrace house would cost about £270,000, and the Birds Estate, where a four-bedroom detached executive home would cost £485,000 to £550,000.

Detached homes in leafy villages

In leafy Langdon Hills, with modern homes from flats to five-bedroom detached houses, an all-frills contemporary five-bedroom family house would be about £650,000. Blissful Essex villages in commuting distance include Audley End, with 51-minute trains to Liverpool Street and prices of £368,645, up 18 per cent in five years, reflecting the longer journey time. But as priced-out buyers move further from London, there’s the potential for faster growth. 

Audley End station serves the lovely town of Saffron Walden and some fab little villages west of it, including Arkesden, the most popular. Max Cutsforth, an associate at Cheffins estate agents, says: “It has rolling countryside views, the average property is 300 or 400 years old… Arkesden is very much untouched.”

£1,195,000: six-bedroom thatched house in Middle Street, Clavering, with outbuildings. Call Cheffins (01799 795012)

Live near Jamie Oliver's family pub

Arkesden boasts a popular pub, quiet streets, and a five-minute drive to the station, but there’s a premium to pay, with a two-bedroom chocolate box cottage costing £300,000-£400,000 and a detached four-bedroom house from £700,000.

Clavering is where Naked Chef Jamie Oliver grew up, and his family still run The Cricketers pub — the food’s great, of course — while Jamie and wife Jools have a country house nearby. There’s a very popular school, pretty period houses and more modern homes. A two-bedroom chocolate box would cost about the same as in more-pristine Arkesden, but a four-bedroom post-war house would be £500,000-£550,000.

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