London commuter belt cheapest travel: 10 property hotspots less than 40 minutes from central London with annual commuting costs under £3,000
As inevitable as rapidly abandoned diets and maxed-out credit cards, the new year began with a round of painful train fare increases. The average commuter’s travel costs have risen by just over three per cent.
The increase means that buyers considering leaving London in search of a lower-priced home may end up sinking more of their hard-earned cash into paying for the privilege of getting to work.
Smart buyers need to get to grips with Network Rail’s hugely complex pricing system. Ticket costs are based on journey time and distance travelled as well as the popularity of a service. Fare increases, meanwhile, are linked to inflation.
According to a new study of commuter fares within an hour of the capital, there are now only seven options where an annual season ticket costs less than £3,000. All hug the M25 north and west of London.
In third place: Rickmansworth, Herts, with an average house price of £642,000 and a 26-minute commute, has a cluster of attractive pubs and good shops (Alamy Stock Photo)
Commuting from Buckinghamshire
The most pocket-friendly commute of all is from Denham in Buckinghamshire, Savills found. The 25-minute trip to London costs commuters £2,596 a year. An average property comes in just shy of £555,000, but a detached house will set you back about £1.1 million.
Steven Spencer, a director of Strutt & Parker, says buyers tend to opt for Denham for its convenience rather than its amenities, on which it is somewhat light. There’s just a small parade of shops close to the station, two primary schools, both rated “good” by Ofsted, and some cute pubs around Denham Village. However, the M25 and M40 are in easy reach, and Denham’s location on the eastern fringes of the Chiltern Hills means open countryside is on the doorstep.
Table: London’s 10 cheapest commutes
|Train station||Travel time to central London||Annual season ticket||Average property price||Average price of a detached home|
The most affordable property location highlighted in the study is Iver, in Buckinghamshire, set in the heart of the Colne Valley. A typical property costs £487,000, while a detached house comes in at an average £836,000.
Commuters can already get from Iver to London in less than half an hour but when Crossrail services eventually get going, it will also be on the Elizabeth line providing direct links to the centre of London, the City and Canary Wharf, which will open it up to a new swathe of buyers.
At present, says Kendal Spencer, senior negotiator at Hilton King & Locke estate agents, most buyers move to the area from west London, in search of more space for their money. A three-bedroom Victorian cottage in the High Street would cost £450,000 to £475,000, a typical Sixties semi would be about £375,000, and a five-bedroom detached house would start at about £850,000.
Iver’s main plus point is also its downfall. “It is quite out in the sticks,” says Spencer, who has lived in the area all her life. “It is very quiet and quite rural feeling.”
Families like the area because of its good schools, but the High Street is short on anything but basic shops, and eating out options are limited — although Sicilian restaurant La Palma in Iver Heath comes highly recommended. For shopping and nights out, locals need to travel to either Uxbridge or Windsor.
Commuting from Hertsfordshire
Two of Denham’s near neighbours, Chorleywood, and Rickmansworth, both in Hertfordshire, take second and third positions in today’s study. Both have a similar commuter dormitory vibe and anything buyers save on transport will be rapidly eaten up by their high property values.
Chorleywood, says Steven Spencer, has a more villagey feel, with some good pubs on Chorleywood Common. The main driver here is the schools, led by St Clement Danes School, for seniors, which is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. The area tends to attract affluent families since the average house sells for just under £780,000, while a detached home costs just north of £1 million on average. Rickmansworth is, relatively speaking, a thrumming metropolis of a place, with a well-stocked High Street including Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, a clutch of pubs and restaurants, and plenty of day to day shops.
It also has a choice of high-performing primary and senior schools.
Pricing is similar to Chorleywood. The average overall price is £642,000 but for a detached house you are talking seven figures.
Another major cluster of affordable transport to London is to be found in Surrey.
Commuting from Surrey
Nature’s on the doorstep: Fairmile Common Esher. The Surrey town makes the latest Savills top 10 chart of cheapest London commutes (Alamy Stock Photo)
All these, along with the large village of Langley in Berkshire, have below-average commuter costs. Of the six, Epsom is the liveliest option, by a country mile. “It has got some really, really good primary and secondary schools,” says Dale Woods, area manager of Barnard Marcus estate agents. “There is a shopping centre with your typical high street brands, a cinema, the Epsom Playhouse and the Epsom Downs are not far away.
As well as being a mecca for horse racing fans there are several excellent pubs on the Downs — notably the Derby Arms and the Rubbing House — which augment the local restaurants and pubs in Epsom High Street.
Property ranges from Georgian villas, and Edwardian and Victorian semis and terraces close to the High Street, to Thirties family houses in the suburbs. The average Epsom property costs £513,000, and a detached house will cost £860,000.
More recently these have been augmented by modern purpose-built flats, which cost around £375,000 to £380,000 for a two-bedroom property.