During the coronavirus pandemic, many people reconsidered where they wanted to live – and the type of house they wanted to live in. Moving out of the city and into the suburbs became an attractive option, as families look to address their work/life balance – but where are the best places to live if you are considering a move?
If you’ve previously been commuting daily into London, you might now be considering partly (or completely) working from home instead of going into the office, so it may be worth looking at homes a little further out of ‘town’. To help, we’ve highlighted the 10 top small towns around London for commuting, including Eastbourne, Ipswich, Guildford and Haywards Heath, that will help you balance life and work commitments.
Kevin Shaw, National Sales Director at Leaders, says: “These towns and cities are the obvious choice for people who want the best of both worlds; the job opportunities on offer in London and a more affordable home in a quieter location that is ideal for bringing up a family.”
“Buying a home and a rail season ticket are significant costs, but you cannot buy time, so it is important to also factor this into any decision over where to live. Our research has considered house prices, rail fares and journey times, and we believe each of the ten locations provide good value to commuters seeking a family home. You may even in the future be able to secure partial season ticket prices, making these locations even more affordable to live.”
To help London workers in their search, Leaders has measured the cost of property and travel against travel time by rail to determine the very best places to live. So without further ado, here is our countdown of the top 10 commuter towns for families within 90 minutes of London.
- Three-bedroom house: £1,600 per month to rent; £600,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: £3,708 per year
- Time to London: 32 minutes
Sevenoaks is one of our popular south London cities, situated just 21 miles south-east of London, with a population of about 30,000, is the town of Sevenoaks, a popular option for those that want to move out of the capital. Rob Sayers, Lettings Manager at our Sevenoaks branch, knows first-hand about transitioning from the city to the suburbs: "Switching from the bright lights of London to the beautiful, leafy, historical town of Sevenoaks has been a smooth, and hugely welcome move for me and my family. Living just up the road in Biggin Hill, Sevenoaks and the surrounding area is the perfect location for me, my wife and my 9-year-old son - there's so much on offer, whether it’s fresh air and a walk around the incredibly beautiful Knole Park, or a trip to the highly convenient superstores in Dunton Green or Otford."
"I had no hesitation in leaving my capital days behind and becoming a happy member of the Sevenoaks community," adds Rob. From the many, varied high street eateries to the quaint, character-filled pubs and the many alternative shops Sevenoaks offers, there really is something to please everybody. There are also many good, established educational options, so if you have children and you are looking to rent or buy a property in the area, then you will be spoilt for choice when selecting the perfect school.
As Sevenoaks' station and its' speedy services into the centre of London are very close to the town centre, the town really is a very convenient and popular location for those who still commute into the city.
"In what I can only describe as an increasing trend of these extraordinary times we are all living through, we here at Leaders are finding that more and more people are looking to experience a new, more appropriate property in an area that provides a more relaxed lifestyle," says Rob. "Sevenoaks is perfect if you're looking for a healthy work/life balance outside London - and even better if you have a new-found appetite for the great outdoors."
- Three-bedroom house: £1,700 per month to rent; £500,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: from £4,800 per year
- Time to London: 55 minutes
Cambridge is one of the most beautiful towns in the UK and only 60 miles north of central London - but rapid rail links mean that distance can be covered in just under an hour. If you need to travel abroad there is easy access to Stansted and Luton airports.
This historic city has the River Cam running through it and this, along with the world renowned University, means there are plenty of green open spaces. Families have access to amazing schools, colleges and of course the university, and with its international population, you will find a similar level of leisure and entertainment options you will experience in London.
Cambridge has excellent healthcare facilities including the famous Addenbrookes. Housing ranges from beautiful Georgian properties through to brand new, state of the art homes, all within easy reach of the city centre and station.
- Three-bedroom house: £1,350 per month to rent; £300,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: £5,440 per year
- Time to London: 90 minutes
This magnificent municipal town is successfully reviving its former glories and is once again full of charm, culture and ambition. Its pier may have burned down - although there are plans to restore it - but its spirit is unrepentant. A stroll on the long promenade past the town’s iconic bandstand, with its terracotta tiled roof, is just one of the joys of life in Eastbourne.
Schools are available for all ages, mostly good, a few outstanding. And healthcare facilities are provided by hospitals including Eastbourne District General Hospital and Bexhill.
Property wise, it is possible to buy near the sea (or at least a short distance from it) with a decent sized three-bedroom house for between £250,000 and £350,000. This makes Eastbourne a great place to work in the City and from home.
4. St Albans
- Three-bedroom house: £1,895 per month to rent; £575,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: £3,700 per year
- Time to London: 30 minutes
People who live in St Albans get two cities for the price of one, such is the speed and frequency of the train service to London. Buyers can get more property for their money in one of the country’s smartest cities than they can in the capital, yet remain just a short train ride away from St Pancras. With stacks of pubs, restaurants and a twice-weekly market, there are plenty of social and shopping opportunities too.
Many of the schools in St Albans achieve an outstanding rating from Ofsted while the area is well serviced for healthcare by hospitals in St Albans and nearby Watford and Hemel Hempstead.
Property wise, there is a lot of choice, from period to modern homes, terraced, semi and detached, either within walking distance of the town centre or a short drive away.
- Three-bedroom house: £895 per month to rent; £250,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: from £6,944 per year
- Time to London: 70 minutes
Ipswich, another one of our small towns around London, is one of the fastest-growing and happiest places in the UK, according to recent studies, making it a pleasant place to live. I t’s even close enough to the sea for a day out, while being just 70 minutes away from Liverpool Street.
Schools are mostly good with some outstanding, and healthcare is provided by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, giving access to Colchester Hospital University, Ipswich.
Property wise, if you have dreamed of owning a Victorian terrace or a 1930s detached home or prefer something more modern, Ipswich offers one of our most affordable property markets with a wealth of choice for every budget.
- Three-bedroom house: £2,200 per month to rent; £600,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: £3,836 per year
- Time to London: 1 hour 8 mins
Guildford itself dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086. Today its town centre is surrounded by many villages and from a property perspective, whether you want a swanky new flat or a period property with land, it’s likely you will be able to find the home of your dreams.
All the main high street shops are represented, but the town also has a thriving independent sector. In addition, there is a busy market every Friday and Saturday, covering all your fresh food needs. According to the Sunday Times, the town is home to “two of the very best schools in the country”. In terms of health facilities, there are private and public services from the large Royal Surrey County Hospitals through to smaller community hospitals and specialist services.
- Three-bedroom house: £2,000 per month to rent; £600,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: £1,484 per year
- Time to London: 30 minutes
Despite its small size, Beckenham is one of the most vibrant small towns around London and is packed with shops, cafes, cocktail bars, pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities, and there is plenty of beautiful countryside nearby. Just as importantly for commuters, it takes just under 30 minutes to reach Victoria.
There are lots of things for families to do in and around the area from the cinema, to activity and leisure centres and plenty of parks nearby. Many schools are classed as outstanding for all ages, and healthcare is provided by Beckenham Beacon and Princess Royal University Hospital.
Property wise, house prices are more expensive than some of our other commuter areas, but that’s partly due to the short commute and with most properties on the market being spacious Victorian or 1930s properties, all typically with good garden space.
- Three-bedroom house: £1,750 per month to rent; £450,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: £3,440 per year
- Time to London: 30 minutes
Set in the heart of Surrey’s commuter belt, Woking offers an excellent location close to the M25 and with an easy commute in and out of London. The area is surrounded by some of the most gorgeous countryside in Surrey.
The town centre continues to undergo regeneration and offers city centre living with plenty of flats or houses nearby, even within a short walk. Alternatively you can live in beautiful little villages with a green and a pub and the idyllic country living. The centre itself has bars and plenty of entertainment and leisure facilities. Schools are good to outstanding and healthcare is provided for by Woking Community Hospital with nearby Ashford and St Peter’s hospital.
There is plenty of scope for moving up and down the property ladder with a good range of quality housing, so it is no surprise so many families and young professionals choose to make it their home.
- Three-bedroom house: £1,325 per month to rent; £400,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: £2,900 per year
- Time to London: 37 minutes
Redhill itself is a town within the borough of Reigate and Banstead and is south of Croydon in Greater London. It sits in the glorious North Downs in Surrey and is just 24 miles from central London and minutes from the M25. It offers the perfect place to live for a family and property prices, compared to some other locations with a similar commute, can be considered affordable.
Schools are mostly good, with one or more being outstanding. Healthcare facilities are provided by East Surrey and North Downs Hospital. There is a wide variety of properties on the market, and a £40million redevelopment of the town centre is underway to provide more housing, a cinema and shops.
10. Haywards Heath
- Three-bedroom house: £1,320 per month to rent; £400,000 to buy
- Annual rail fare: £4,052 per year
- Time to London: 46 minutes
Haywards Heath is the ultimate town to live and work; built in the mid-19th Century following the arrival of the Brighton to London mainline to the area. Set in the heart of the beautiful Sussex countryside, living in Haywards Heath allows easy access to London, the South Downs and the seaside at Brighton.
Schools in the main are classed as ‘good’ while a few are outstanding. And healthcare facilities are provided by the Princess Royal Hospital, just outside the main centre. Homes available range from 1930s, 70s and new builds, offering lots of space with a huge variety to choose from.
Thinking of moving from the city to the suburbs? For more information and advice you can trust in relation to selling or buying a property, please contact your local Leaders branch.
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