Commuting to London:top 25 areas to buy a home within 60 minutes of the capital - from Amersham to Virginia Water

In our essential guide to leading London commuter locations, we find homes hotspots with good rail links, great schools and access to lovely countryside.

An average home in a top-end London commuter village or town can easily cost seven figures — but sometimes a location is expensive for good reason.

If you fancy yourself with a gleaming four-wheel drive parked on a turnaround platform on your gravelled drive, and want to hang out in the kind of cafés and gastropubs which would not be out of place in Chelsea, we’ve found spots you’ll love with convenient London commutes, great schools and access to lovely countryside.

In this latest instalment of Homes & Property’s essential guide to leading London commuter locations, we focus on “best in class” options.


 

AMERSHAM, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

What it costs: the average property price is £574,377, with houses at £674,475 and flats at £301,741. Prices have increased 19.2 per cent in the last two years (source: Savills).

Top schools: Chestnut Lane juniors and Elangeni primary are both “outstanding”, says Ofsted. For seniors, Dr Challoner’s Grammar School and Dr Challoner’s High School are among the UK’s top-performing state schools.

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Picture-book pretty: St Mary’s Church in Old Amersham. The town is at the tip of the Metropolitan line (Alamy)

The commute: from 33 minutes to Marylebone. An annual season ticket costs £3,368.

Who would it suit? Those who have a psychological terror of leaving the Tube behind. Amersham, just beyond the M25, is at the tip of the Metropolitan line. Old Amersham is picture-book pretty, with plenty of boutiques, restaurants and old timbered pubs. Property ranges from brick-and-slate cottages to period manor houses.

And the downsides? New Amersham, the area nearest the station, is a lot more modern and less picturesque, with streets of Thirties semis. It is, however, more affordable. Beware the impact of High Speed 2, which could slice past Old Amersham, and may blight some homes.


 

BERKHAMSTED, HERTFORDSHIRE

What it costs: average prices stand at £567,252, with houses typically selling for £664,428 and apartments at £302,666. Prices have increased 21.8 per cent since 2014 (source: Savills).

Top schools: there are no fewer than four Ofsted “outstanding” primary schools to choose from: Westfield Primary School and Nursery, Greenway Primary and Nursery School, Victoria Church of England Infant and Nursery School, and St Thomas More Catholic Primary School. For seniors, Ashlyns School gets a “good” report from the education watchdog.

The commute: from 31 minutes to Euston. An annual season ticket costs £4,644.

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Canalside: The Rising Sun pub in Berkhamsted (Alamy)

Who would it suit? Families. It has a superb range of schools — in the private sector Berkhamsted School is a big draw. The high street is pretty, and affluent enough to support a Waitrose and an M&S as well as some suitably upscale restaurants and bars.

The countryside around these parts is for serious walkers, particularly the National Trust-owned Ashridge Estate. There’s a range of Victorian homes in the town centre, and a mix of period and contemporary trophy houses on the outskirts.

And the downsides? The number of London commuters already living here can give Berkhamsted a bit of a flat feel during the day.


 

GERRARDS CROSS, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

What it costs: average prices have breached the £1 million mark at £1,034,908, up 13.3 per cent in the last two years. An average house costs £1,133,770, while flats sell for an average £449,646 (source: Savills).

Top schools: The Gerrards Cross CofE School is an “outstanding” primary by Ofsted standards, and Chalfonts Community College, for seniors, gets a “good” report from the schools watchdog. Buckinghamshire has an 11-plus system, and seniors can also try for one of its grammar schools.

The commute: from 22 minutes to Marylebone. An annual season ticket costs £3,328.

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Gateway to the Chilterns: Gerrards Cross has its own common lands in town but little notable architecture (Alamy)

Who would it suit? Gerrards Cross, the gateway to the Chiltern Hills — an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty — has its own common lands in town. There’s little notable architecture, but the high street is well stocked and there’s a huge Tesco. The cinema has had a revamp and there are bistros and cafés. Fiona Lewis-Wall, a partner at Gibbs Gillespie, said “GX” is cosmopolitan, with low crime and great schools, while much networking goes on at the bar of the Stoke Park country club.

And the downsides? Big houses dominate. The entry price for a house in Gerrards Cross is £560,000 to £580,000, which will buy a two-bedroom cottage. A four-bedroom detached post-war house would cost well over £1 million. The giant contemporary houses in Camp Road sell for up to £5 million.


 

COBHAM, SURREY

What it costs: this is another seven-figure village, with average prices standing at £1,164,565. Prices have increased 9.2 per cent in the last two years (source: Savills).

Top schools: St Matthew’s CofE Aided Infant School gets an “outstanding” Ofsted report, and there are two “good” primary schools.

The commute: from 38 minutes to Waterloo. An annual season ticket costs from £2,604.

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Yummy mummy country: the High Street in Cobham, a “very glamorous” village with brasseries and boutiques aplenty (Alamy)

Who would it suit? Yummy mummies will love this well-cared for village, with its boutiques, Pilates studios and Aveda spas. It is, says Nick Kimber, area sales partner at Chewton Rose estate agents, “a very glamorous village” with plenty of brasseries and boutiques to cater for its affluent clientele. It is also pretty, with the River Mole running past the end of the high street, and gorgeous Painshill Park landscape garden, full of grottos and follies, on the outskirts. Surrounding villages have great pubs.

“It does have a proper village atmosphere,” adds Kimber. “Cobham Heritage Day is coming up, and people turn out for all sorts of street parties.”

Despite its tag as Britain’s most expensive village there is some relatively reasonably priced period housing to be had in Cobham: about £700,000 would buy a three-bedroom terrace house. The rest of the housing stock is mainly big detached post-war houses or giant trophy mansions costing millions.

And the downsides? The high street is regularly jammed with Chelsea tractors. Depending on your personal prejudices, the presence of both the American Community School and the Chelsea FC training ground means Cobham has a disproportionate number of football players and transatlantic accents.


 

VIRGINIA WATER, SURREY

What it costs: the average property price of £875,475, is up 15 per cent in two years. Houses sell for an average of £945,579, and flats for £422,133 (source: Savills).

Top schools: Trumps Green Infant School is “outstanding”, says Ofsted.

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Quiet, sedate and leafy: Virginia Water is close to Windsor Great Park (Shutterstock)

The commute: from 45 minutes to Waterloo. An annual season ticket costs from £2,896.

Who would it suit? Rich people with Range Rovers. The local off-licence stocks Louis Roederer Cristal champagne (£265) and Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac (£1,195). The general vibe is quiet, sedate and leafy, with Windsor Great Park just around the corner for long walks.

The Thirties houses near the station are moderately affordable. But within the Wentworth Estate the original Twenties homes have largely been replaced by massive trophy mansions beloved of buyers from Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

And the downsides? From golf at Wentworth to polo at Smith’s Lawn, there is plenty to do — but only if you have the cash. There’s a very limited high street and restaurants are unspectacular, given all the money around.


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