Swap shop: let your London home and rent for less in the country

With property values continuing to rise throughout London, cautious homeowners are letting their homes in the city and opting to rent, rather than buy, in the country

Home owners know the value of their London property increases faster than the price of bricks and mortar in the country. They fear that if they sell up and move out, they will never be able to get back into the market in the capital. So the cautious are letting their homes in the city and opting to rent, rather than buy, in a more rural location.


A typical four-bedroom house in Wandsworth, for example, rents at £3,145 a month, according to Zoopla. 

An owner could trade this in for pretty five-bedroom Dower House in the village of Oxon Hoath, near Tonbridge, Kent, which is available to rent for £2,900 a month with Hamptons.

Trains to Charing Cross take from 40 minutes, barely longer than from Wandsworth. An annual season ticket comes in at £4,052 - versus a Zone 1 and 2 annual pass at £1,284 - but should still leave anyone wanting to make this swap just about in the black.

Alternatively, for £2,500 a month - more than £600 cheaper than the typical Wandsworth home - you could live on the edge of the plum village of Benenden, also in Kent, in a five-bedroom detached farmhouse down a country lane. 

The Grade II-listed house comes with the huge advantage of being within the catchment area of Cranbrook School, one of the best grammar schools in the country. This must be set against the slightly longer commute — fast trains from Headcorn take an hour and four minutes to Charing Cross, and an annual season ticket costs £4,052.


In affluent Reigate, prime Surrey commuter territory, you could rent a three-bedroom weatherboarded house plus windmill - yes, windmill - on the green fringes of the town, available through Gascoigne-Pees for £2,650 a month. 

  • eigate

Trains from Reigate to Victoria or London Bridge take about 45 minutes, and a season ticket will cost £3,432. Or go ultra posh and rent Dukes Place in the village of West Peckham. This is a breathtaking Grade I-listed house with five bedrooms plus a two-bedroom guest cottage, set in landscaped grounds with swimming pool and a tennis court. 

This timbered property is available with Savills for £10,000 a month - about the same as a two- to three-bedroom flat in Knightsbridge. Tanya Blake, head of rentals for the home counties at Savills, says her rural renters tend to be a mixture of “try before you buy” London home owners, and lifestyle renters who simply want to get out of the city. 

“Renting is a cheaper way of gaining land because even acres of land attached to the house will not significantly affect the rent,” she says. “If you buy a house with land the cost shoots up. You also do not have to pay the maintenance on a country house, which can be significant.”

Budgets go further in the country. “For a two-bedroom apartment in a prime London spot you could be paying £500 or £600 a week. That gets you a very nice three- or four-bedroom house,” adds Blake. 

Houses in prime towns such as Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, which are near good schools and stations, will be more expensive, but if you are happy on the fringe of such an area the rent comes down significantly.

  • Henley-on-Thames


  • Go and research your chosen country area. Do a trial commute, and time it. Do the maths on the commute. Include the station parking — does the car park fill up early? Check it out.
  • If you fall for a country rental home, be prepared to negotiate. 
  • Consider offering to sign a two-year lease, or forgo break clauses in your contract.
  • The bad news is that your landlord can take back your country rental home. The good news is that if you decide the countryside is not for  you, then you can take back your London home.

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