A Zone 2 travelcard is far more than a device to get you through a ticket barrier. Living in Zone 2 — or even, whisper it, Zone 1 — speaks of a lifestyle of carefree late nights and fast journeys home, and of being far too busy and in demand to waste time chugging into work from the boondocks.
But a new report, published today, blows a hole in the theory that the inner zones offer the fastest travel. It would be reasonable to think that the lower your travelcard zone number, the faster your journey to central London — yet the study by Hamptons International proves you’d be wrong.
“London has grown by steadily swallowing up neighbouring towns and villages,” explains Hamptons research analyst David Fell. “Ruislip, Harrow, Barking and Croydon were all once distinct towns that now find themselves part of the capital.
“Their history means they have direct rail links into the heart of central London which cut straight across London’s inner suburbs. These connections mean it’s quicker to get home to some Zone 6 suburbs from central London than it is to many parts of Zone 2.”
Beyond Zone 2
Unravelling the complex picture of journey times into central London from its endless outlying neighbourhoods can pay huge dividends.
Though travel costs will increase by a few hundred pounds a year if you live a zone or two further out than you might dream of, you could save tens — if not hundreds — of thousands of pounds on the price of a property.
“[Beyond Zone 2] prices drop by an average of £86,000 between each zone,” says Fell. “For house hunters on tight budgets it can pay to look one zone further out where house prices are on average 17 per cent cheaper but journey times into the centre are little different.” From Zone 2 the average journey is 13 minutes, and the average price is £781,724. From Zone 4 that journey rises to 22 minutes, but the extra nine minutes is more than made up for by the fact that average property prices fall to £435,021. That’s a £38,522 saving for ever extra minute travelled.
And if you are looking for areas where prices are growing you’d be better off searching Zones 3 and 5. Zone 2 has seen 6.8 per cent average price growth in the last year, compared with 15 per cent in Zone 5, and 13.8 per cent in Zone 6.