Villages in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire are not only less expensive for home seekers than their flashy counterparts in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but often better connected.
The countryside in this swathe of the Midlands, including the northern reaches of the Cotswolds, is simply beautiful — all rolling hills and patchwork fields — and the equal of anything in the pricey, sought-after southern Cotswolds, says Jonathan Harington of Haringtons buying agents.
He advises clients on a budget to get to know this area. “You get a lot of property for your money, and communications by trains and roads make a daily commute of under an hour to the capital possible,” he says. The main downside is the price of an annual season ticket.
YARDLEY GOBION, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
Where is it? Pronounced to rhyme with “go beyond”, Yardley Gobion lies between Towcester and Milton Keynes, in the south of the county.
The commute: Milton Keynes station is six-and-a-half miles away, with Euston trains from 35 minutes. An annual season ticket starts at £5,028.
Plus points: the village has a primary school rated “good” by Ofsted, a pub, post office, shop, church, and social club. A walk along the Grand Union Canal just east of the village is a lovely way to spend a sunny weekend morning. Some good historic towns are near. Antoinette Givant, senior sales negotiator at Michael Graham estate agents, says: “Getting to work from here is quicker than crossing London.”
Watch out for: there’s a lack of large family homes.
Property prices: a two-bedroom cottage would cost £300,000-£400,000, and a modern four-bedroom house £450,000-£500,000. A four- to five-bedroom detached period house with large gardens will be about £1 million.
Where is it? On the north-eastern fringes of the Cotswolds, eight miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon.
The commute: avoid stopping trains from closest station, Honeybourne. Go to Banbury, 18 miles west, for Marylebone trains from 56 minutes. An annual season ticket costs from £5,564.
Plus points: this honey-stoned gem is near sublime countryside, has a community that supports local shops, plus two locally owned pubs including the renowned Howard Arms. The village school is Ofsted “outstanding”.
Watch out for: a long-ish commute.
Property prices: £250,000-£300,000 buys a pretty, two-bedroom cottage, with four-bedroom family homes from £700,000-£850,000. It will cost you £1.35 million-£1.65 million for a roomy country house in a few acres.
Where is it? 11 miles north of Northampton — the M1 is 10 minutes away.
The commute: trains from Northampton to Euston take from 46 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs from £5,142. The nearest station is Long Buckby, six miles away, but London trains take more than an hour.
Plus points: pretty thatched cottages. Historic Cottesbrooke Hall and its award-winning gardens are open regularly. Several local villages come together socially. There is everything from art groups to bridge and bowls, walking, WI, yoga, music and drama, Brownies and Girl Guides.
Watch out for: homes are snapped up fast. There’s no pub, shop or school.
Property prices: £250,000-£350,000 for a two- to three-bedroom cottage, or about £400,000 for a four-bedroom house.