Commuting to London: top 30 areas to buy a home within 60 minutes of the capital - from Brighton to St Albans

Some of the best-value commuter towns can be reached in less than an hour from a mainline London station...

The vast majority of London’s Generation Rent would leave the capital for a home they could afford to buy, a new National Landlords Association poll reveals. Four in 10 would definitely move beyond the M25.

With numbers like this considering the big move, the latest instalment of Homes & Property’s series on the top out-of-London locations highlights five good-value commuter home destinations with city-style comforts.


What it costs: an average property costs £347,467, up from £288,529 in 2014 — a rise of about 20 per cent, with a house at just over £500,000 and a flat at about £270,000 (source: Savills).

Top schools: Eastbrook Primary Academy, St Luke’s Primary School and Downs Junior School get “outstanding” Ofsted ratings. Varndean is one of several senior schools rated “good”.

The commute: Victoria is do-able in just under an hour, but the journey is more commonly scheduled from one hour and seven minutes. Annual season tickets start from £3,764.

Being by the seaside: cosmopolitan Brighton is perfect for young professionals and families relocating (Daniel Lynch)

Who it would suit: buzzy, cosmopolitan Brighton has something for everyone, from boutique shopping to smart bars and restaurants and the beach.

Paul Taggart, of Hamptons, says up to half of his Brighton buyers are Londoners. “Many have one or two young children and are looking for a change of lifestyle, and schools, and are happy to live a more flexible commuting life.” 

Seven Dials, half a mile from Brighton station, has mostly Edwardian or Victorian homes, with two-bedroom flats from £300,000 and three-bedroom terrace houses from about £650,000.

And the downsides? You’ll need a seven-figure budget for a Regency townhouse or a big seafront home in Hove. The beach is heaving in high summer, state school standards are variable and there have been months of delays and cancellations on Southern trains.


What it costs: the average property price is £438,082, up an impressive 30.2 per cent from £336,430 in 2014. The average flat is £207,993, with houses at about £376,000 (source: Savills).

Top schools: The Mead Infant School, West Ewell Infant School, Wallace Fields Juniors, and Glyn School, for seniors, are all Ofsted “outstanding”.

The commute: trains take 33 minutes from Ewell West station to Waterloo, and an annual season ticket will set you back from £1,820.

Historic Surrey: St Mary’s Morris Men at Ewell Village Fair (Alamy)

Who it would suit: those after a quick, reasonable commute and good local schools. There’s a good high street, nice pubs and restaurants, but no real nightlife. Nonsuch Park has a BMX course and running tracks in its 250 acres.

And the downsides? Most of the housing stock consists of very suburban Thirties semis, with some period homes in the centre — so Londoners might not be fully persuaded by what is on offer.


What it costs: the average property costs £197,647, up 18.7 per cent from £166,482 two years ago. Houses sell for £211,821, and the average flat costs £118,466 (source: Savills).

Top schools: Highworth Grammar School is “outstanding”, says the Ofsted watchdog, while all the main primary schools get “good” reports.

The commute: from 38 minutes by high-speed rail to St Pancras. An annual season ticket costs from £5,140.

Good value Ashford: the town is a great staging point for the Kent Downs and the coast is just 20 miles away (Alamy)

Who it would suit: Ashford is very good value. “It is a place where you can afford to get on the property ladder,” says Kevin Hall, director of Martin & Co. For £200,000 you could buy a two-bedroom modern house, or a slightly tired three-bedroom Victorian terrace. For £300,000 you could get a new four-bedroom townhouse, or a four-bedroom Edwardian doer-upper.

In the pretty villages around Ashford — including Wye, Mersham, and Charing, all within two or three miles — a four- or five-bedroom farmhouse costs between £600,000 and £700,000.

The high-speed rail service isn’t cheap, but it is very efficient, and Ashford is a great staging point for the Kent Downs and the coast 20 miles away. Weekends in Paris on the Eurostar are a breeze, and the Ashford Designer Outlet is retail heaven. In 2018 a new £75 million cinema complex will open in the town centre, and there are plans to build hundreds of new local homes.

And the downsides? A place at one of Kent’s highly competitive grammar schools is prized, while Ashford’s  non-selective senior schools are a bit variable. And Ashford town centre is neither interesting nor beautiful. 


What it costs: the average property price has risen 23 per cent in two years, from £174,612 to £214,313. A flat costs an average £151,721 and a house £256,313.

Top schools: Burnt Mill Academy (seniors) and Jerounds Community Junior School are Ofsted “outstanding”. Almost all other Harlow schools are “good”.

The commute: half an hour to Liverpool Street. An annual season ticket costs £4,420.

Rural Essex: Harlow offers city workers a quick commute into town thanks to the Stansted Express

Who would it suit: City workers seeking value for money and a fast journey into town. It is also handy for the M11 and M25. Old Harlow is very pretty, with clapboard country pubs, and the whole town is dotted with parks and nature reserves, while it also boasts one of the most extensive cycle networks in the UK and a good leisure centre. 

There are plenty of neighbourhood restaurants and a couple of clubs. Property ranges from Victorian cottages to new homes at the award-winning Newhall development.

And the downsides? Old Harlow is gorgeous, but this shows in its property prices. New Harlow has streets of faceless Sixties houses and an ugly Sixties shopping precinct at its heart.


What it costs: an average home costs £516,214, up 22 per cent from £415,415 two years ago. Buying a house costs almost £619,000, but flats sell for just under £298,000 (source: Savills).

Top schools: Ofsted “outstanding” schools include St Alban and St Stephen Roman Catholic Infant and Nursery School, The Abbey Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School, and St Albans Girls’ School

Busy St Albans: there are some really good pubs and restaurants to choose from in the town

The commute: from 17 minutes to St Pancras. An annual season ticket costs from £3,320.

Who it would suit: the commute is fast, and families love the brilliant schools and the great city centre rammed with alfresco cafés, boutiques and high-end chains. There are some really good pubs and restaurants, plus open countryside all around. It feels safe and sweet, with a weekend market and the beautiful cathedral.

And the downsides? The average prices won’t buy a family-size period house in the sought-after Abbey conservation area. Buyers on more restricted budgets will probably end up in a Twenties or Thirties house on the fringes. There’s no post-pub nightlife to speak of, and the arts scene isn’t great.

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