Eastbourne, Ipswich, Basingstoke, Winchester and Haywards Heath are among the UK’s most family-friendly commuter towns.
Kevin Shaw, National Sales Director at property specialist Leaders, says: “Commuting is 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.”
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.
Here is our countdown of the top ten commuter towns for families within 90 minutes of London.
Three-bedroom house: £300,000 - £850,000
Annual rail fare: £4,648
Time to London: 49 minutes
Cambridge may be 60 miles north of central London, but rapid rail links mean that distance can be covered in just three-quarters of an hour. So why do people choose to set up home here? World-class schools, beautiful houses and one of the country’s richest cultural scenes are just some of the reasons.
Three-bedroom house: £375,000
Annual rail fare: £4,812
Time to London: 62 minutes
Winchester is surrounded by hills, so many homes in the city offer stunning views or, at the very least, a green and leafy environment. Its quaint and historic charm appeals to people of all ages, and with London only an hour away by train it continues to be a peaceful, practical haven for commuters.
Three-bedroom house: £225,000 - £250,000
Annual rail fare: £4,460
Time to London: 88 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. Another is the potential to buy a three-bedroom house for less than £250,000 - an option more City workers are taking by the week.
7) St Albans
Three-bedroom house: £500,000 - £600,000
Annual rail fare: £3,288
Time to London: 29 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.
Three-bedroom house: £140,000 - £150,000
Annual rail fare: £6,148
Time to London: 70 minutes
Ipswich is one of the fastest-growing and happiest places in the UK, according to recent studies, making it a pleasant place to live. Of more interest to commuters will be a vibrant - yet affordable - property market, excellent local schools and an improved 70-minute commuter to Liverpool Street.
Three-bedroom house: £265,000 - £350,000
Annual rail fare: £4,156
Time to London: 45 minutes
Basingstoke is a successful, vibrant and independent town that is home to plenty of commuters. With ample recreational facilities and social venues, it is the perfect town to unwind in during evenings and weekends. A rising number of prospective buyers are registering from areas east of Basingstoke as they look to set up home further from London. There are also plans for 13,000 new homes to be built in the town over the coming years.
Three-bedroom house: £475,000 - £550,000
Annual rail fare: £1,316
Time to London: 22 minutes
Despite its small size, Beckenham has big ideas - especially for commuters. The town centre is packed with shops, cafes, cocktail bars, pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities, while there is plenty of beautiful countryside nearby. Just as importantly for commuters, it takes little more than 20 minutes to reach Victoria and house prices are noticeably cheaper than in more central areas, making it a trendy hotspot for professionals.
Three-bedroom house: £400,000
Annual rail fare: £3,052
Time to London: 24 minutes
Set in the heart of Surrey’s commuter belt, Woking offers an excellent location close to the M25 and relatively affordable house prices. 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: £360,000
Annual rail fare: £2,672
Time to London: 28 minutes
Sitting in the North Downs in Surrey, Redhill is prime commuter territory. Just 24 miles from central London and minutes from the M25, it offers a wide variety of housing stock and plenty of potential for capital growth. A £40 million redevelopment of the town centre is planned.
1) Haywards Heath
Three-bedroom house: £290,000 - £350,000
Annual rail fare: £3,840
Time to London: 43 minutes
Haywards Heath is the ultimate commuter town; 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. Properties are typically spacious and stylish too.
For more information and advice you can trust in relation to selling or buying a property, please contact your local Leaders branch.