Exclusive golf clubs and trophy mansions have long made a Surrey address the gold standard for aspirational commuters.
However, as prices in many of its best-known market towns and prettiest villages reach or exceed London levels, new arrivals to this most exclusive home county are increasingly buying into its better-value options, where they can still enjoy a fast commute and the Surrey Hills, without the millionaire price tags.
Horley, a dormitory town on the doorstep of Gatwick airport, has emerged as the most successful location in Surrey, with average prices surging 48 per cent in the past five years, to just over £355,000.
Staines, still much derided despite attempts to rebrand itself as Staines-upon-Thames, has performed almost as well, with prices up 45 per cent to an average of almost £380,000.
And Salfords, a satellite village just north of Horley, is also now a top Surrey location, with prices up 40 per cent to an average of just over £350,000, today’s research by Savills shows.
Surrey’s top-performing commuter locations
|Commuter station||Price increase over five years||Average local price of a home|
|3 London Rd Guildford||47%||£562,024|
|7 West Byfleet||40%||£510,970|
Research by Savills
AVERAGE PROPERTY PRICE: £356,353
Horley’s appeal is not simply affordability. It has a choice of well-regarded primary schools, all with “good” Ofsted reports. The senior school, Oakwood, is also rated “good”.
Rush-hour trains to Victoria take about 45 minutes, and season tickets cost from £3,268. A tip from regular commuters, however, is to drive to nearby Gatwick to pick up services to London Bridge instead. An annual season ticket from the airport costs significantly less, at £2,436.
James Richards, sales manager at White & Sons estate agents, says Horley has grown in strength as commuters priced out of Redhill and Reigate look further south.
It has also seen hundreds of spacious, no-hassle homes built over the past few years. Proximity to Gatwick is handy for holidays, but flightpath noise affects Horley, though not in a conversation-stopping way.
The town isn’t beautiful but “it is on the up”, says Richards. “We are starting to notice more high street chains taking an interest, and the council is spending money on improving the town centre.”
The choice of property is good, from three- to four-bedroom Victorian semis in the town centre priced £450,000 to £475,000, to grand detached Edwardian houses, also in the centre of Horley, with four to five bedrooms, from about £700,000.
Modern three-bedroom executive houses on the outskirts sell for about £450,000.
AVERAGE PROPERTY PRICE: £524,309
While today’s study shows how buyers are rippling out to areas of good value there are still wealthy buyers keen to swap their London houses for Surrey pads.
A key choice is Guildford, the county town, with average five-year price growth of 41 per cent to almost £525,000. Homes around Guildford’s second station, London Road, just east of the town centre, have increased in value by 47 per cent to an average £562,024.
Another winner is Esher, where prices are up 41 per cent to more than £850,000. And the villages and hamlets around Dormans station, on the edge of the High Weald and close to Lingfield, have enjoyed five-year prices rises of 47 per cent, to an average of more than £580,000.
Guildford is the quintessential well-heeled commuter town, where London money sustains a great selection of restaurants, pubs, cafés, and boutiques.
Its state schools are mostly of an extremely high standard. For seniors, Guildford County School, George Abbot School, and St Peter’s Catholic School all get top marks from Ofsted.
Trains to Waterloo take from 37 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs from £3,576.
The suburb of Pewley is a mecca for commuters. It’s in walking distance of the town centre and station, within the catchment area of the most popular schools, and close to the western edge of the Surrey Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
A three-bedroom semi-detached house in Pewley would cost about £800,000, which Adrian Overington, director of Seymours Estate Agents, points out is cheap compared to south-west London: “Where would you rather live — a leafy, relatively crime-free county town, or south-west London? It’s a no-brainer really.”