London’s best-value commuter destinations: property prices drop £3,000 with each minute you travel out of the city


You’re tired and the train is packed. The only consolation is the knowledge that for every extra minute you spend in this carriage as it crawls out of London, you save £3,000 on the price of a home.

A new study exclusive to Homes & Property reveals how rapidly prices and deposit requirements plummet during any journey from 19 to 99 minutes out of the capital. The data also shows the places offering particularly good value.

Savills found that homes anything up to a touch over a mile from a station, with a shortish commute to follow — from 19 to 39 minutes — cost on average £499,405.

Based on a theoretical mortgage in which the loan-to-value is 75 per cent, a buyer would need a deposit of £124,851 and a household income of £83,324.

  • Extend your commute from 19-39 mins to 40-59 mins: house prices drop 18%
  • From 40-59 mins to 60-79 mins: house prices drop 17%
  • From 60-79 mins to 80-99 mins: house prices drop 18% 

Prices drop by more than two thirds in the time band of 80 to 99 minutes, for example, from St Pancras to Loughborough. The deposit falls to £76,744 and required earnings to £51,163.

Buyers move for many reasons, including to get more space and less competition for the best schools, but in some cases they’re simply trying to afford a family home.

House prices can shift dramatically from county to county. “There is value to be had to the south east, in Kent, and to the north, in Bedfordshire, when compared with more affluent, traditional commuter hotspots with similar journey times in Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire,” says Frances Clacy of Savills.

“Indeed, average second-hand sale prices in Oxshott, Surrey, at £1.57 million, are almost seven times more expensive than for Chatham, Kent, at £225,000, despite the travel times only differing by three minutes.”

So, assuming you can raise the deposit and secure a mortgage, where are the best-value pockets within 99 minutes’ train ride of central London?

Where to live within 40 minutes’ commute from London 

One of the cheapest four towns within this time band is Luton. Also included is Chatham in North Kent.

Luton: 26 minutes from London

In Bedfordshire and just 26 minutes by train to St Pancras, the average Luton house price is £248,522 and the average sale price for a detached house is £336,260.

Named commuter town of the year, it is undergoing £1.5 billion regeneration. An upgrade to the town centre, new homes, shops and restaurants will create 18,500 new jobs over the next 20 years.

Prices from £195,000: new homes at LU2ON

LU2ON by Strawberry Star Homes is a new seven-acre scheme on the old Vauxhall Motors factory site, with 785 studios, one- and two-bedroom flats, private roof gardens and 24-hour concierge.

Phase one, with 400 homes, will be completed in 2021. Prices from £195,000. Call 020 7781 8899.

For those seeking village life, Mark Lumley of John Curtis estate agents recommends Breachwood Green east of the town.

“It has a good range of property choices from small cottages to large family detached homes. The village has a charming pub that serves good food and there is a junior and infant school,” he says.

Just outside Breachwood Green, in Bendish hamlet, John Curtis is selling a three-bedroom converted chapel for £600,000. Call 01582 934112.

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£600,000: three-bedroom detached chapel conversion in Bendish Herts. John Curtis, 01582 934 112

Chelmsford: 35 minutes from London

I chose an Essex town 35 minutes away from central London by train,” says Carinna Griffiths. The 30-year-old midwife bought a shared-ownership flat in Chelmsford.

Having grown up in villages she has now moved for the convenience of a commuter town, buying a 35 per cent stake in a flat at Notting Hill Genesis’s City Park West. The market value of her home is £232,500. 

“Chelmsford has improved so much,” she says. “There are new pubs and bars, restaurants, a cinema, two shopping centres and Chelmsford train station close by. London is an easy commute.”

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Choose Chelmsford: Carinna Griffiths (S Saunders )

Prices for a one-bedroom shared-ownership flat at the scheme start from £58,750 for 25 per cent of a home worth £235,000. For details visit cityparkwest.co.uk or call Notting Hill Genesis on 01245 806484.

Where to live less than an hour’s commute from London

The average household income needed to buy in this travel band is £70,473. The average house price is £422,845 requiring a 25 per cent deposit of £105,709 and the best-value pockets are in Northamptonshire.

Wellingborough: 51 minutes from London

The train journey from the market town of Wellingborough, 11 miles from Northampton, takes 51 minutes to St Pancras but it’s 10 per cent cheaper than the county’s capital.

A recent study has forecast the town to grow by 30 per cent over the next 30 years due to its access to London and Cambridge, and there is a healthy pipeline of new homes.

It has 14 primary schools, Wellingborough public school and the Tresham College of Further and Higher Education.

Rushden Lakes shopping and leisure centre is on the outskirts, with a 14-screen cinema coming this year. The average property costs £186,892 and the average detached home is priced at £295,903.

“There is an abundance of pubs, clubs and restaurants in Wellingborough and the Castle Theatre which opened in 1995 on the site of the old cattle market,” says Warren Grant of Yopa estate agents.

Yopa has a four-bedroom detached house for £300,000 in the town centre. Call 02475 060004. Jackson-Stops has a grand period semi on its books, covering 3,000sq ft, for £675,000 Call 01604 632991.

Haslemere: 54 minutes from London

“I live less than an hour away on the Surrey-Hampshire border,” says journalist Anna White. “My husband and I decided to make the move out of London when our third child came along.

“We had outgrown our three-bedroom mid-terrace house in St Margarets in Richmond and bought in rural Haslemere.” The selling points, says White, were the 300ft garden and the 12-minute walk to the station. “The train takes 54 minutes to Waterloo,” she says.

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More space: Anna White moved from London to Haslemere (Suzannah Ginders)

“I do miss London friends and having the city on my doorstep but Agatha, Benjamin and Alex, our children, have loads of space here.

“We walk every day to a lovely local school and we were warmly welcomed into a small and very friendly community.”

Where to live just over an hour from London

Grantham, Dover, Corby, Tamworth and Ipswich each have a direct train service running into central London in under 80 minutes. The average property in this travel band costs £361,555. The deposit needed is £90,389 and income to secure a 75 per cent mortgage is £60,259.

Ipswich: 76 minutes to London

The train to Ipswich in Suffolk takes 76 minutes into London Liverpool Street, the average house price is £176,964 and the average detached house is £366,947.

“Ipswich has a spectacular waterfront, which was developed around 15 years ago by the East of England Development Agency.

“There’s a marina and rows of busy bistros, restaurants, shops and offices,” says Tim Dansie of Jackson-Stops.

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£785,000: an Elizabethan manor house with six bedrooms and two acres of grounds in Mendlesham, Suffolk. You’ll be on the train for 90 minutes each way. Jackson Stops (01473 870071)

“Constable Country and the Stour Valley is on the doorstep, and rural Suffolk and the coast to the north.”

Dansie is a selling a lovely six-bedroom Elizabethan manor house in two acres of mature gardens for £785,000. Call 01473 870071.

Where to live for flexible workers an hour and a half’s commute from London

For the best value look to the Midlands. The average house price is £306,977 and the typical deposit needed is £76,744. Your journey could take you to Stoke-on-Trent, Loughborough or Retford.

Retford: 92 minutes from London

Values in the north Nottinghamshire market town of Retford are well below the average for this commute at £156,841 and £228,087 for a detached house.

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£795,000: 18th-century five-bedroom house in Skreton, Nottinghamshire. Savills, 0115 798 0265

Chris Charlton of Savills says London commuters are starting to travel from Nottingham but Retford remains a hotspot for affluent farming families.

“Retford is home to high net worth individuals and families, mainly living in the local villages and working in agriculture.”

William H Brown has a smart three-bedroom semi in the town centre at £135,000. Call 01777 597003.

Savills has an 18th-century five-bedroom house for £795,000. Call 0115 798 0265.

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