What it costs: average price is £473,424, up five per cent in two years — about £591,000 for a house and £239,000 for a flat.
The commute: trains to Waterloo take from 49 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £4,732.
Top schools: Grayswood CofE Aided Primary School is Ofsted “outstanding”. Most of the town’s other primaries are rated “good”, as is Woolmer Hill, for seniors.
Who it would suit: with prices spiralling in “prime” Surrey, many buyers are leapfrogging Guildford and the Surrey Hills for Haslemere, on the edge of the South Downs. Its location on the A3 makes it handy for the coast and the capital, and now that the Hindhead Tunnel is in operation the local roads are far less gridlocked.
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What it costs: the average Cranbrook property costs £460,436, up 15 per cent in the last two years. Expect to pay about £485,000 for a house and £314,000 for a flat.
The commute: drive the five miles to Staplehurst for Charing Cross trains taking from an hour and two minutes. An annual season ticket costs £4,772.
Top schools: Cranbrook School, with an Ofsted “outstanding” rating, is one of the top state schools in Britain.
Who it would suit: those who want a smart little market town in the beautiful High Weald. There’s post-war housing on the fringes, but 16th- and 17th-century homes in Cranbrook, too.
What it costs: average homes in this affluent town stand at £779,844, up 40 per cent in two years.
The commute: 35 minutes to Euston. An annual season ticket costs £3,988. Tring station is a mile outside the town, so it may mean a walk or short drive.
Top schools: Goldfield Infants’ and Nursery School gets an “outstanding” Ofsted report. Tring School (seniors) is rated “good” by the watchdog.
Who it would suit: those who want convenient countryside. From the top of Ivinghoe Beacon or at College Lake nature reserve, it is hard to imagine London’s so close. Tring has plenty of great pubs and a full range of restaurants, plus the Tring outpost of the Natural History Museum.
What it costs: the average property price is £468,527, up 21 per cent in the last two years - around £525,000 for houses and £302,000 for flats.
The commute: Epping sits at the easternmost tip of the Central Line, an epic 19 stops from Oxford Circus. The nearest overground train service into the City is from Harlow, but by the time you’ve driven there you probably won’t cut much time off your journey.
Top schools: most of the local primaries get “good” Ofsted reports. However Epping St John's Church of England VC School “requires improvement” which will be a worry for parents of older children.
Who it would suit: Epping Forest is the big pull: heaven for horse riders, mountain bikers, dog walkers and runners, and spectacular on a sunny day.
Bishop’s, Stortford Hertfordshire
What it costs: average property price is £362,222, up 26.9 per cent in two years, with houses almost £412,000 and flats about £211,000.
The commute: from 38 minutes to Liverpool Street. An annual season ticket costs £5,000.
Top schools: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and The Hertfordshire & Essex High School and Science College both get “outstanding” Ofsted reports. The Bishop’s Stortford High School is rated “good”.
Who it would suit: those after value for money. Bishop’s Stortford is a splendid-looking little town, about equidistant between London and Cambridge, surrounded by lovely countryside.
Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
What it costs: a house will set you back just over £280,000 and a flat costs about £150,000.
The commute: just over half an hour to Euston. An annual season ticket costs £5,160.
Top schools: Pulford CofE VA Lower School and Dovery Down Lower School shine amongst a very strong selection of schools.
Who it would suit: those who value a fast journey time.
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What it costs: houses cost just under £250,000, on average, and flats come in at just over £138,000.
The commute: trains to Paddington currently take an hour and a quarter, and an annual season ticket costs a whopping £9,876.
Top schools: Sheldon School (seniors) gets a “good” rating from Ofsted, whilst St Mary's RC Primary School leads the primary schools with an “outstanding” report.
Who it would suit: commuters seeking good-value housing, plenty to do and lots of green space.
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Saffron Walden, Essex
What it costs: a house will set you back just over £380,000 and a flat costs about £177,000.
The commute: the nearest station is Audley End, two miles south west of the town, and services to Liverpool Street take from 53 minutes. An annual season ticket costs from £5,456.
Who it would suit: those seeking a real London antidote. Saffron Walden is a laid back, peaceful medieval town with independent shops and traditional pubs.
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What it costs: an average house goes for £177,000, while flats are priced at around £94,000.
The commute: from 52 minutes to Euston. Annual season ticket: from £6,012.
Top schools:: apart from the obvious? Rugby High School and Lawrence Sheriff School (both selective grammar schools) are “outstanding”, says Ofsted.
Who it would suit: those looking for a lively location with plenty of interesting independent shops, cafes and restaurants to explore.
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What it costs: an average house goes for £258,000, while flats are priced at around £131,000.
The commute: services from Northampton, five miles away, to Euston take from 56 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £6,240.
Top schools:: Upton Meadows Primary School is “good” according to Ofsted. Seniors can go on to nearby The Duston School, rated “outstanding”.
Who it would suit: fans of affordable, eco-friendly contemporary homes.
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Brighton, East Sussex
What it costs: A house will set you back just over £500,000 and a flat costs about £270,000.
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.
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”.
Who it would suit: Young professionals, old professionals, families looking for a change of lifestyle - buzzy, cosmopolitan Brighton has something for everyone, from boutique shopping to smart bars and restaurants and the beach.
What it costs: The average house is £376,000, with flats at about £207,993.
The commute: Trains take 33 minutes from Ewell West station to Waterloo, and an annual season ticket will set you back from £1,820.
Top schools: The Mead Infant School, West Ewell Infant School, Wallace Fields Juniors, and Glyn School, for seniors, are all Ofsted “outstanding”.
Who it would suit: Those after a quick, reasonable commute and good local schools will like Ewell. There’s a good high street, nice pubs and restaurants, and a park with a BMX course and running tracks.
What it costs: Houses sell for an average £211,821 and the average flat costs £118,466
The commute: Trains take from as little as 38 minutes by high-speed rail to St Pancras. An annual season ticket costs from £5,140.
Top schools: Highworth Grammar School is “outstanding”, says the Ofsted watchdog, while all the main primary schools get “good” reports.
Who it would suit: Ashford is very good value for first-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder. It's also a great staging point for the Kent Downs and the coast 20 miles away, weekends in Paris on the Eurostar, and shopping at the Ashford Designer Outlet.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
What it costs: Houses sell for an average £619,000, while flats go for an average o f£298,000.
The commute: Trains to St Pancras take 17 minutes, with an annual season ticket costing £3,320.
Top schools: 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 have all been deemed “outstanding” by Ofsted.
Who it would suit: St Albans is safe and sweet, with a weekend market and the beautiful cathedral. Families, especially, love the brilliant schools, great city centre full of alfresco cafés, boutiques and high-end chains, and the nearby countryside.
What it costs: A house costs an average £256,313 and a flat £151,721.
The commute: Trains take half an hour to Liverpool Street. An annual season ticket costs £4,420.
Top schools: Burnt Mill Academy (seniors) and Jerounds Community Junior School are Ofsted “outstanding”. Almost all other Harlow schools are “good”.
Who it would suit: City workers seeking value for money and a fast journey into town. Old Harlow is very pretty, with clapboard country pubs, and the whole town is dotted with parks and nature reserves.
What it costs: Houses sell for an average £674,475 and flats for £301,741.
The commute: Trains to Marylebone take 33 minutes to Marylebone, with an annual season ticket costing £3,368.
Top schools: Both Chestnut Lane juniors and Elangeni primary have been deemed “outstanding”, by Ofsted, while Dr Challoner’s Grammar School and Dr Challoner’s High School are among the top-performing state schools in the whole of the UK.
Who it would suit: Old Amersham is picturebook pretty and just perfect for weekends spent roaming the boutiques, restaurants and old timbered pubs.
What it costs: Expect to pay just over £664,000 for a house and just under £303,000 for a flat.
The commute: It takes 31 minutes to Euston with an annual season ticket costing £4,644.
Top schools: This family-oriented town boasts no fewer than four Ofsted “outstanding” primary schools.
Who it would suit: Given its superb range of schools, beautiful countryside and range of Victorian homes, Berkhamsted is best-suited to families.
Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire
What it costs: Homes in the area have breached the £1 million mark, with houses costing around £1,133,770, and flats selling for an average £449,646.
The commute: You can be in Marylebone in just 22 minutes at the cost of £3,328 per year for a season ticket.
Top schools: Ofsted consider the Gerrards Cross CofE School an “outstanding” primary and, thanks to the 11-plus system, seniors can try for one of the area's grammar schools.
Who it would suit: This affluent town on the edge of the Chilterns has a low crime rate, great schools and a well-provisioned high street, making it a great choice for families.
What it costs: Average prices in Britain’s most expensive village currently stand at £1,164,565.
The commute: From 38 minutes to Waterloo. Annual season tickets are relatively cheap at £2,604.
Top schools: St Matthew’s CofE Aided Infant School has bee awarded an “outstanding” Ofsted report, alongside two “good” primary schools.
Who it would suit: Yummy mummies will love this glamorous village, with its wealth of brasseries, boutiques, Pilates studios, and Aveda spas.
Virginia Water, Surrey
What it costs: a house costs an average of £945,579, with flats costing £422,133.
The commute: Commutes to Waterloo take around 45 minutes, with an annual season ticket costing £2,896.
Top schools: Trumps Green Infant School is “outstanding”, according to Ofsted.
Who it would suit: The fact that the local off license stocks Louis Roederer Cristal champagne (£265) and Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac (£1,195) prove that Virginia Water is a rich area that suit those with expensive tastes.
What it costs: Houses sell for an average £510,805, and flats for £288,749.
The commute: It takes 52 minutes to Paddington with an annual season ticket costing £3,348. Alternatively, it takes 30 minutes from
High Wycombe or Beaconsfield to Marylebone.
Top schools: There is a quartet of Ofsted “outstanding”schools including Holy Trinity Church of England (Aided) School, Spinfield
School (primary), Marlow Church of England Infant School and Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School.
Who it would suit: Thanks to a good mix of shops, restaurants and bars, Marlow is great for someone who enjoys a busy life. The pretty surrounding countryside is ideal for a pub lunch and wander.
What it costs: An average house in the area costs £503,961, and an average flat £245,632.
The commute: 40 minutes to Paddington. An annual season ticket is £3,616
Top schools: Taplow’s primary school St Nicholas Church of England Combined School is rated “good” by Ofsted. Seniors have several high-performing options in nearby Maidenhead.
Who it would suit: Londoners keen to escape to the countryside but don't want to leave behind their mod cons of city life. The busy towns of Maidenhead, Eton and Windsor are all nearby.
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Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire
What it costs: Flats cost an average £377,610, and houses come in at £683,587.
The commute: Paddington is 50 minutes away and an annual season ticket costs from £4,396.
Top schools: Nettlebed Community School (primary) is “outstanding”, while Frieth Church of England Combined School, and Gillotts School (seniors) are both rated “good” by Ofsted.
Who it would suit: Commuters who want to enough the buzz of town life. It has art galleries, a cinema, and an annual literary, music and arts festival alongside the famous annual regatta.
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First-time buyers are finding Help to Buy options outside the capital. Named best out-of-London development at this year's Evening Standard New Homes Awards, Ninewells development is located on the fringes of Cambridge.
Full prices start from £345,000 for a one-bedroom flat, or £399,950 for a two-bedroom flat. Using a full Help to Buy loan, this would mean raising a five per cent deposit of £17,250 for a one-bedroom
flat, and taking a government loan of £69,000 with a mortgage of £258,750. For two-bedroom flats you would need a £19,997 deposit, a government loan of £79,990, and a mortgage of £299,962.
The commute: All of the delights of Cambridge are minutes away and commuters can easily get to London. Trains take from 50 minutes to King’s Cross — but an annual season ticket costs from a hefty £5,012.
Help to Buy is available at Holborough Lakes, a Berkeley Homes development near Snodland. Prices start at £355,000 for a three-bedroom house.
Using the full Help to Buy loan this means raising £17,750 deposit, a loan of £142,000, and finding a mortgage of £195,250. Service charges on the development, which include gym membership, are surprisingly reasonable. They range from around £336 to £652 per year depending on the size of the property.
The commute: The nearest town is Snodland, which has a couple of pubs and some useful shops. Its biggest plus point is that it is served by High Speed 1. Trains from Snodland to St Pancras take from 52 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs £3,828.
What it costs: An average house will cost £709,055, whilst an average flat will set you back £317,323.
The commute: It takes just 26 minutes to Waterloo and an annual season ticket costs from £2,412.
Top schools: Ashley CofE Aided Primary School is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, and Walton Oak Primary School is “good” according to the Government’s schools’ watchdog.
Who it would suit: The leafy suburb offers a great commute and boasts some nice cafes and neighbourhood restaurants for those who like socialising.
Ryarsh Park, Kent
For more of a country lifestyle, Ryarsh Park, by Redrow, is on the fringes of the village of Ryarsh, close to the attractive town of West Malling in Kent.
The development of 91 homes will be completed in 2018. Four-bedroom houses are priced from £449,995, which means buyers will need a deposit of £22,500, a mortgage of £337,496, and an equity loan from the Government of £89,999. The service charge at Ryarsh Park comes in at about £600 per year.
Ryarsh itself is a popular village thanks to its pub and its Ofsted “outstanding” primary school, while older pupils will have access to Kent’s grammar school system.
The commute: West Malling also has a station — trains to Victoria take from 50 minutes and an annual season ticket costs £4,176.
Windsor and Eton, Berkshire
What it costs: An average house sells for £596,000, and an average flat for £365,000.
The commute: It takes 51 minutes to Paddington or 56 minutes to Waterloo. An annual season costs £2,904.
Top schools: St Edward’s Catholic First School, Hilltop First School, and Windsor Girls’ School (senior) are all rated outstanding by Osfted. Eton College is very famous.
Who it would suit: Busy Windsor is perfect for Royal watchers who like the Queen’s wide open spaces and do not mind aircraft noise.
The Chalfonts, Buckinghamshire
What it costs: Houses cost an average £742,000, and flats come in at £290,000.
The commute: Chalfont & Latimer station is in Zone 8 but you can catch a mainline service to Marylebone in 35 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £3,036.
Top schools: The area boasts good grammar schools. Selective Dr Challoner’s High School is one of the UK’s top state girls school, with an “outstanding” Ofsted report. Both Little Chalfont Primary School and Chalfont St Peter Infant School get top marks too.
Who it would suit: All the Chalfonts are in easy reach of the Chilterns - each one has something different to offer. Little Chalfont has good shops while Chalfont St Peter offers great pubs and is close to Gerrards Cross. Chalfont St Giles has a chocolate-box village feel and Chalfont Heights has a private gated estate.
What it costs: A typical flat costs £178,000 while an average house costs £335,000.
The commute: It takes 34 minutes to Liverpool Street and an annual season costs £4,748.
Top schools: One of the top secondary schools in the country, King Edward VI Grammar, is situated in Chelmsford. It is boys-only until the sixth form, but younger girls can opt for the excellent Chelmsford County High School.
Who it would suit: Those who like to have all the mod cons on their doorstep but still like the rolling countryside.
What it costs: Houses in the area cost an average of £222,000 and flats will set you back £221,000.
The commute: It only takes 23 minutes to reach St Pancras. An annual season ticket is £3,960.
Top schools: There are plenty of well-regarded primaries to choose from. Barnfield South Academy, Barnfield West Academy, and Cardinal Newman Catholic School (all seniors) are all rated “good” by Ofsted.
Who it would suit: The great value housing is very attractive. For a more rural feel, head to the nearby villages of Offley and Lilley.
What it costs: a house costs an average of £416,000 with flats costing £194,000.
The commute: The fastest train to Waterloo takes an hour and three minutes — but its qualities make up for an extra 180 seconds on the train. An annual season is £4,308.
Top schools: There are schools for all ages on offer. Petersfield Infant School is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, whilst Herne Junior School and The Petersfield School (seniors) both rate as “good”.
Who it would suit: thanks to it's location in South Downs National Park, its perfect for those who dream of a perfect country town with period homes and community spirit.
What it costs: A typical house in Cambridge costs just over £600,000, while flats cost an average of almost £330,000.
The commute: From 50 minutes to King’s Cross. An annual season ticket costs £5,012.
Top schools: The majority of the city’s schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, with St Albans Catholic Primary and St Bede’s Inter Church School (seniors) amongst those with top marks from the Government’s schools inspector.
Who it would suit: Londoners who still want to experience cosmopolitan city life.
Wickham Bishops, Essex
What it costs: Houses in the area typically cost an average of almost £243,000, while flats come in at just over £178,000
The commute: From Witham, the nearest station, which is just over three miles away, trains to Liverpool Street take from 45 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £5,232.
Top schools: There isn't a school in the village but Great Totham Primary, in the neighbouring village, gets a “good” rating from Ofsted. Older children can attend Maltings Academy in Witham, rated “outstanding”.
Who it would suit: Londoners looking to get more for their buck and still have an easy commute into the city. The surrounding countryside is lovely, and you can be at the coast within 40 minutes.
What it costs: Houses cost, on average, just over £649,047 with flats coming in at almost £292,000.
The commute: From 39 minutes to Waterloo. Annual season tickets cost from £3,360.
Top schools: Most are highly rated by Ofsted with the youngest pupils especially well catered for. Both Wood Street Infant School and Stoughton Infant School are Ofsted “outstanding”.
Who it would suit: City workers who want the countryside on their doorstep yet a quick commute into the bright lights of the city.
What it costs: the average cost of a house in this Surrey town is £433,000.
The commute: From 50 minutes to Victoria, an annual season ticket cost £3,396.
Top schools: Both Lingfield’s state primaries (Lingfield and Dormandsland) are rated “good” by Ofsted. Older children will have to travel to the "outstanding" comprehensive Imberthorne School, East Grinstead, four miles away.
Who it would suit: Commuters who love to spend their downtime soaking up the fresh, countryside air.
What it costs: an average house costs £500,319 here, while two bedroom flats are priced at around £200,000 to £250,000.
The commute: trains from nearby Hook take 58 minutes to Waterloo. An annual season ticket costs from £3,988.
Top schools: Mayhill Junior School and Robert May’s School (seniors) are both rated “good” by Ofsted.
Who it would suit: people coming out of south west London find better value for money than in some of Surrey's swish commuter hotspots, plus a commuting time that doesn't really change.
What it costs: a typical house costs around £407,000, while a flat costs just over £214,232.
The commute: from 48 minutes to Fenchurch Street. A season ticket costs £4,524.
Top schools: both Leigh North Street Primary and West Leigh Junior School get top marks from Ofsted. The town also has two (academy) senior schools both rated “good” by the schools’ watchdog.
Who it would suit: City workers who fancy messing about by the seaside. Leigh has a bit of a London village vibe, with good, quirky indy shops and galleries on Leigh Broadway, and plenty of cafes. There are lots of like-minded ex-Londoners to befriend.
What it costs: expect to pay just over £916,000 for a house or £386,000 for a flat.
The commute: squeaks in under the hour, with services to Marylebone from 57 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £5,620.
Top schools: St Barnabus and St Philip (juniors) in boho Jericho is particularly sought after. Many parents go private, with The Dragon School, Magdalen College School (boys) and Oxford High School (girls) top of the picks.
Who it would suit: given those London-style prices, a move to Oxford is far more about lifestyle than budget, and Oxford is a gorgeous looking city, with a more cosmopolitan feel than smaller towns can manage, it is walkable/cycleable, and the countryside on the doorstep is glorious.
What it costs: an average house goes for £334,397, while flats are priced at around £227,235.
The commute: from 27 minutes to Paddington. An annual season ticket costs £5,024.
Top schools: Reading School is one of the highest performing schools in Britain, whilst All Saints Junior School is “outstanding” according to Ofsted.
Who it would suit: first-time buyers looking for value for money and those looking to minimise the amount of time spent sitting on the train.