The London exodus: top schools, the best areas and new homes for first-time buyers in Southend
Why first-time buyers are moving to Southend, Essex
Average first-time buyer spend: £236,860, which would buy a three-bedroom terrace house, a three-bedroom flat, or a two-bedroom semi in Southend, or a two-bedroom flat in smart Thorpe Bay suburb or the very central Clifftown conservation area.
Annual price increase: 2.4 per cent.
Proportion of homes sold to first-time buyers: 11 per cent.
The commute: this City-friendly option has services to Fenchurch Street in just under an hour. An annual season ticket costs from £4,904.
Schools: Southend has its own crop of grammar schools including Southend High School for Girls and Southend High School for Boys, both in affluent Thorpe Bay.
For younger pupils standards are more variable, but highlights include Bournes Green Infant and Junior Schools.
What’s new? Named in honour of a defunct Southend-based electronics company, Ekco Park has one- and two-bedroom flats by Bellway Homes, priced from £189,995 to £238,995.
It’s some two miles from the town centre but only a 10-minute walk from Prittlewell station (bellway.co.uk).
Estuary Housing Association has two-bedroom shared-ownership flats in Carnarvon Road, less than half a mile from Southend Victoria station and a 20-minute walk from the seafront.
Prices start from an extremely pocket-friendly £94,000 for a 40 per cent share (estuary.co.uk).
Southend’s seafront remains dated and unloved. Long-awaited promises of a £50 million upgrade from the council and development partner Turnstone Estates, including a cinema, 10 restaurants, hotel and leisure centre, have so far not materialised.
However, Southend United Football Club is pressing ahead with plans for a new stadium, with 848 flats and an entertainment complex.
Southend offers a good stock of quality, red-brick period houses (Alamy Stock Photo)
The lowdown: long overlooked in favour of trendier Whitstable and Brighton, an influx of London commuters over the last 10 years has breathed new life into this seaside option.
The London effect is most obvious in the popular inland suburb of Leigh-on-Sea, three miles west of central Southend, which is developing a real urban village vibe with independent shops and cafés.
For down time there is the beach of course, and several sailing clubs. And if you want a quick getaway, London Southend airport offers flights to Spain, France, the Balearics and Portugal.
Southend also offers a good stock of quality, red-brick period houses. On the downside, an average first-time buyer budget will not buy you a sea view. Houses on the front cost £1 million-plus.