Oxfordshire has long been a popular spot for London leavers and has house prices to match but, while villages close to Cambridge are seeing prices rise, house prices in Cambridgeshire still have a way to go to catch up with their popular rival.
City buyers are rapidly discovering the charms of East Anglia's big skies and long views, but the average home in Cambridgeshire still costs £277,000 compared to Oxfordshire's average of £354,000.
Grantchester: top dog
Where is it? Two and a half miles south-west of Cambridge, and the right side of the city for the station. Novelist Jeffrey Archer’s a local.
The commute: trains from Cambridge to King’s Cross take from 53 minutes. Direct Liverpool Street trains take just over an hour. An annual season ticket costs from £5,100.
Plus points: one of the most desirable villages in Cambridgeshire, Grantchester has been home to the highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners and the Edwardian poet, Rupert Brooke. Surrounded by lovely Grantchester Meadows and running alongside the River Cam, it has three great pubs, pretty tearooms and is still within 10 minutes of Cambridge centre.
Property prices: a modest two-bedroom cottage could be £400,000, with a four-bedroom semi at 700,000. One of Grantchester’s gorgeous Georgian manor houses would cost up to £3 million.
And the downsides? Housing stock is in very short supply and there’s no village school. Fawcett Primary in adjacent Trumpington gets a “good” Ofsted report. In summer Grantchester is swamped with tourists.
The Eversdens: busy, dinky twins
Where is it? Great Eversden and Little Eversden villages are six miles south-west of Cambridge.
The commute: avoid the scrum at Cambridge station. Head to Shepreth, three miles away, for trains to King’s Cross from 54 minutes. An annual season ticket costs from £4,940.
Plus points: Stewart Chipchase, associate director of Savills, says these dinky neighbours are archetypal English villages with a strong community. “They’re close enough to Cambridge to enjoy the city while being within straightforward reach of London.” There are regular film nights at the village hall, a free village magazine is produced by residents and there’s a tennis club, a book club, and two restaurants — La Pergola at The Wheatsheaf pub, and Cam Spice, both of which go down well with locals.
Property prices: homes range from period cottages to large, detached modern houses and culs-de-sac of post-war semis. Expect to pay £340,000 to £440,000 for a three-bedroom cottage or a semi, £625,000 to £650,000 for a four- or five-bedroom cottage with large garden, and more than £1.5 million for a manor house in a few acres.
Any downsides? You will drive everywhere as there is no local post office or school. The closest primaries include Haslingfield Endowed Primary School and Barton Church of England (VA) Primary School, both rated “good” by Ofsted.
Haddenham: the value option
Where is it? 15 miles north of Cambridge.
The commute: the nearest station is Ely seven miles away, with trains to King’s Cross in just over an hour and an annual season ticket from £5,926. From May, a new station at Chesterton, north of Cambridge and 13 miles from the village, will open giving fast services to King’s Cross and Liverpool Street in about an hour.
Plus points: there’s a shop, two pubs, a post office, and a community centre. Robert Arkenstall Primary School is rated “good” by Ofsted.
Property prices: about £200,000 for a two-bedroom cottage, £260,000-£275,000 for a three-bedroom semi and £350,000 buys a four-bedroom house. A full-scale country house, with a couple of paddocks, would cost about £650,000.
And the downsides? Senior schoolchildren will need to get to Ely. Ely College has been in special measures, although Witchford Village College and Soham Village College both have “good” Ofsted reports and of course Cambridge has some of the best independent schools in Britain.