It is no secret that moving outside of London can result in homeowners having much more space for the mortgage they’re paying in London. Equally, lowering budgets when moving outside of the capital is common, and buyers are still getting considerably more bang for their buck.
Interestingly, London’s annual rental growth and potential capital gains lags behind the rest of the country. Therefore, it’s not just residential owners that are considering a move out of the city. Many investors are also mulling over whether to diversifying their investments and sell their London property to buy a commuter town property instead.
If you are looking for more affordable house and flat prices with short train times into London the commuter belt is definitely worth looking at.
What is a commuter belt?
The London commuter belt encompasses the surrounding counties of the capital that have good main road and rail links into London and makes travelling in and out of the city easy. The most popular towns and cities in the commuter belt have good schools, plenty of outside places and offer good value family homes.
3 of the most popular commuter belt areas
Below are the most popular commuter areas, cross referenced against affordability, travel time to London, and travel costs.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
- Fastest train to London: 20 mins
- Average house price is £582,115
- Season ticket costs £3,712
St Albans in Hertfordshire has repeatedly been voted as one of the happiest places to live according to a number of surveys. It is the closest city to London and is rich in history and culture. A couple of the historical icons the city has the good fortune to possess are the ancient cathedral and Roman amphitheatre. The city also offers artisan markets, small independent boutiques as well as two shopping centres.
There are an impressive number of state schools in St Alban’s rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted as well as a number of private schools for those that want them.
Property wise there is an array of different styled homes to choose from, quaint medieval cottages and Georgian and Edwardian town houses are situated in the town centre conservation area. Not far from the city centre are where the larger terraced properties can be found. The roads between Brampton Road and Hatfield Road and to the east of the city, such as Glenferrie Road have spacious properties with gardens and driveways. For modern built executive style houses Jersey Farm, Oaklands and Tyttenhanger areas are good places to look.
For flats Ridgmont Plaza, Ziggurat House and De Novo Place are where you can find newer apartments close to the train station. Converted houses and above shops is where you can find other flats.
With the train to London St Pancras taking just 20 minutes and a drive time of 25 minutes to Luton airport for easy weekend escapes it is easy to see why St Albans it is such a popular commuter destination.
- Fastest train to London:21mins
- Average house price: £358,761
- Season ticket costs £2,888
Hatfield’s attractions include the beautiful countryside, Hatfield house a Jacobean country house where Queen Elizabeth spent most of her childhood. It is set in the large Great Park on the eastern side of the town. A 300 year old restored water mill that is home to a local history museum.
Facilities wise there is the Galleria – multiplex cinema and David Lloyd leisure centre and University of Hertfordshire’s de Havilland campus contains the Hertfordshire Sports Village.
Most people prefer the red-brick houses of Old Hatfield to the Thirties-style houses and shopping parades of the 1948 New Town. Two of the best areas are The Ryde, which has detached houses and bungalows, and Ellenbrook, where there is a mix of Thirties semis and detached houses.
When you crunch the numbers, you can see why Hatfield is an attractive commuter town. The average family home is £223,354 cheaper than the average family home in St Albans, the commute is only a minute longer and the season ticket is £824 cheaper.
- Fastest train to London: 25 mins
- Average house price: £371,578
- Season ticket price: £4,736
Reading Berkshires is one of the largest towns in the UK. It is vibrant university city well known for its annual Reading Festival. The area has undergone major regeneration in recent years and now offers a revamped town centre, trendy bars, elegant hotels and with seven out of ten American IT firms having bases there is often referred to as the UK’s Silicon Valley.
Reading has one of the busiest train stations outside of London, with First Great Western, CrossCountry and South West Trains all operating to many locations around the UK. You can be in London Paddington within 30 minutes by train, it has easy access to airports and the Crossrail Elizabeth line.
Reading also delivers on its school offering, at the last count Reading had 38 primary schools and 7 secondary schools as well as a number of private and independent schools and nurseries. There is also the University of Reading which has four major campuses with two in the town.
Reading town centre is full of life and great for those who want to live among the action, those looking for more country-side living should consider the suburbs of Earley, Caversham, Woodley and Winnersh which still possess easy access to the town.
Commuter towns with the lowest average house price
- Peterborough, Cambridgeshire: Average house prices – £213,000
- Purfleet, Essex: Average house prices – £221,000
- Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: – Average house prices £224,000
- Northampton, Northamptonshire: Average property price – £246,000
- Pitsea, Essex: Average property price – £253,000
- Rugby, Warwickshire: Average property price – £257,000
- Chatham, Kent: Average property price – £268,000
- Bletchley, Buckinghamshire: Average property price – £271,000
- Colchester, Essex: Average property price – £280,000
- Luton, Bedfordshire: Average property price – £280,000
All the towns mentioned above are well under average London average asking price of £552,755 and lower than the £315,965 average house price in England.
They offer easy access to major transportation routes and have good amenities. Before buying though you should check should investigate the quality of the local schools, the reliability of the transport links.
What do Gaffsy think about moving to the commuter belt?
If you live and work in London and long for more space, reducing property related outgoings, or simply want to escape the hustle and bustle then it could be a good time to look at properties a little further afield.
For buy-to-let investors, the lower cost of property outside of London and the strong tenant demand make buying in the commuter belt ideal for portfolio diversification.
The commuter belt offers a fantastic opportunity to reduce living expenses as you can rent or buy for a fraction of the price it would cost you in London. The commuter belt provides greenery and countryside, less noise, and great leisure opportunities. But, getting into London couldn’t be easier due to strong transport links.
Knowing travel times, season ticket prices, and house prices is a great starting point when considering a move to a commuter belt location. But also check the reliability of the transport links, that the amenities meet your requirements, that schools are good and crime rate levels are not a concern. Essentially, get as much information as you can on the area before you buy there.
If you are thinking I want to sell my house fast to escape London the commuter belt is definitely worth looking into. If you find your dream home but have a property in the capital Gaffsy can help. Similarly, if you decide you want to diversify your investment portfolio to areas outside of London but need to sell your London property Gaffsy can make you a free cash offer today and guarantee you a quick sale as we operate as cash house buyers.