The average UK commuter spends about 50 minutes getting to work. Taken over a week this means they spend more than eight hours stuck on a train, Tube or bus, or battling behind the wheel.
But there are compensations for the sometimes fraught, always expensive journey to and from work. A new study shows that commuters moving out of London can save up to £150,000 on the average price of a home.
Today’s research, by Savills, found the average house within an easy 25-minute commute of the capital is inching towards the £500,000 mark, at £497,442.
However, for commuters prepared to spend between 25 and 34 minutes travelling that drops to an average of £464,526. A journey time of between 35 and 44 minutes equals an average property price of £408,756.
And for those willing to commute for between 45 and 54 minutes — still only an average UK commute — prices fall almost £30,000 more, to an average £380,000. A commute of 55 to 64 minutes, while it might be gruelling for some, means property prices fall to an average £352,932.
The research also reveals that over the past decade, homes near stations offering the fastest commutes have seen a price uplift of an average 58 per cent.
So where can you buy more home for your money, enjoy a shorter-than-average commute — and yet still have time to enjoy your copy of the London Evening Standard? Here’s our pick:
25 MINUTES MAX
1. HARPENDEN, HERTFORDSHIRE
When it comes to areas with a fast commute plus strong property price growth, all roads lead to Hertfordshire. Five of the 10 commuter locations that have enjoyed the fastest price growth over the past decade are in this north-of-London county, led by Harpenden, where prices are up an average 87 per cent to £700,800, or £1.09 million for a detached house.
Harpenden’s advantages include a 23-minute journey to London. An annual season ticket costs £3,620.
Other Hertfordshire hotspots identified in today’s study include Radlett, St Albans, Welwyn Garden City, and Welwyn North.
You don’t necessarily need to spend a king’s ransom to live somewhere a short hop from work.
2. EBBSFLEET, KENT
Homes close to Ebbsfleet International station offer top value for money, at an average of £218,741, with an average detached home costing just over £300,000. An annual season ticket for the 18-minute journey to central London costs £4,428.
The thought of living by a major station might not immediately appeal — but within a mile of Ebbsfleet your other options include Gravesend, Northfleet, and Swanscombe.
3. SWANSCOMBE, KENT
Chris Ralph, negotiator with Robinson Jackson estate agents in Swanscombe, says buyers like the town because of its period housing, good schools and great transport links. Swanscombe is roughly between Dartford and Gravesend, with Bluewater Shopping Centre on the doorstep, and one of its two-up two-down Victorian cottages would cost about £250,000. A three-bedroom semi would cost up to £275,000.
The area is currently the focus of concentrated housebuilding, and a new four-bedroom detached house would cost between £350,000 and £400,000, Ralph estimates.
Swanscombe has some decent pubs and basic high street shops but for more choice, the locals head to either Dartford or Gravesend, which are close enough that Swanscombe is within the catchment area for their excellent grammar schools.
35 MINUTES MAX
4. LUTON, BEDFORDSHIRE
For a journey into London of about half an hour and a home for £250,000 or less, the choice is surprisingly wide. The cheapest spots are Luton and Luton Airport Parkway, with an average price of just over £200,000. But a smarter choice, perhaps, is Rochester, with an average price of £206,000 — or £374,000 for a detached house.
5. ROCHESTER, KENT
Rochester is a historic cathedral town on the Kent Downs offering some very modern regeneration schemes. A new £26 million train terminal opened recently, and about 1,500 new homes will be built at the 52-acre Rochester Riverside development site. Trains from Rochester to London take just 34 minutes and an annual season ticket costs £3,956.
This good-looking town, with a castle as well as the cathedral, is awash with tea shops and gastropubs. The High Street has a great mix of boutiques, antique shops and art galleries, and there is a good monthly flea market.
More importantly for parents, Rochester has fantastic schools, led by The Rochester Grammar School (girls) and Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School. There is open countryside on the doorstep, and you can be beside the sea at Whitstable in less than an hour.
Property ranges from Georgian and Victorian cottages in the old town, for which you will pay a premium — expect to pay about £400,000 for a two- to three-bedroom house — to good-value Victorian terraces, at about £300,000 for three bedrooms. Top value are new or new-ish build houses. A four-bedroom home will cost about £250,000.
During the past decade, homes in the 35-minute commuting band with the strongest price growth have tended to be affluent commuter enclaves. Seer Green, in Buckinghamshire, leads the way with average growth of 77 per cent to £885,780. A typical detached home costs just over £1 million.
Berkhamsted, in Hertfordshire, also performed strongly with house prices growing by 76 per cent to a more affordable average of just under £600,000, with detached homes coming in at an average of just over £900,000.