The Commuter’s Dilemma

What are our options to escape London living?

If you’re thinking about leaving the chaotic, bustling capital and move somewhere quieter while still having to commute to the city, you might want to do the maths before buying or renting. Let’s face it, London might seem a bit too expensive and lively at times.

After having spent a few years getting to know the city, tapping your oyster card compulsively to go to university or work and paying overpriced rent you can barely afford, let alone a mortgage, you’re considering to live elsewhere. The scenario in some other major cities such as Manchester or Birmingham might look the same, with pricey rent and an equally high level of stress which makes a picturesque village sound incredibly appealing. But is it really convenient to trade your sanity for an expensive annual railway card?

As an easy commute might be one of the most important requirements when moving houses, property website Zoopla compiled a list of the best ten commuter hotspots in terms of housing affordability and transportation cost.

Source: CityAM

Swanley, belonging to the so-called commuter belt area, is one of the most popular towns in Kent and just a 40-minute train ride away from London. It’s Britain’s number one commuter hotspot in terms of house price growth, with prices increasing by £36,484 (almost 11%) over the past year and an average property costing £375,066. With such an increase, the rising value of a commuter’s home in Swanley could effectively offset the cost of a £2,500 annual London rail fare in 25 days.

Another city close to the capital made the top 10. Berkhamsted, the western boundary of Hertfordshire, ranked fourth with an average property price of £724,194 – after 9.18% growth – which resulted in commuters offsetting their rail fare to the capital in 23 days. Property website Tepilo also includes Luton among the best cities to commute to and from London. The large town in Bedfordshire boasts affordable family homes and a 35- minute train ride into London. With average house prices in this area currently reaching £252,869 (up 10% year-on-year), Luton has the twin advantage of rising
house prices while still being affordable. Compared to £4,032 in 2017, an annual train fare from Luton to London is now £4,176.

Image: Luton Town Centre

Back to Zoopla’s top 10, Dursley, in the Cotswolds, secured the second place in the ranking, with price growth of 9.71%. The city has seen a £26,339 (9.71%) jump in property prices in the last year, with an average property reaching £724,194, the most expensive in the ranking. The increase means that homeowners in the market town could pay off their annual commuting costs to nearby Bristol within 32 days. However, the Midlands dominated the ranking with three towns included in the top 10,
Bromsgrove, Atherstone and Warwick. Bromsgrove ranked third, with a 9.61% growth rate year-on-year and an average property value of £301,384. The market city is just 30 minutes away from Birmingham and its growth rate offsets commuters’ annual rail fare within just 16 days.

Atherston and Warwick ranked eighth and ninth in the top 10. The former, a market town in north Warwickshire, experienced price growth of £18,059 (8.26%), resulting in a 40-day commuter payoff, while the latter saw prices boosted by £28,996 (18.18%), ​which could cover the cost of train travel to Birmingham in just 19 days. Property prices in the two cities are £236,734 and £383,488 respectively.

Although turning your back to the city’s lights might look like taking a leap of faith, these pieces of advice are definitely to take into account to help you in such a big step.

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