Commuting to London
Finding the best place to live if you commute to London for work can be difficult as it requires taking into consideration a balance of different factors, including:
- Rent/house prices
- Cost of living
- Commuting distance
- Commuting cost
- Proximity to green space
- Proximity to the amenities of the capital
Both house prices and living costs in London are notoriously expensive, forcing those who want more space to relocate into a more exurban lifestyle. It can also be beneficial to mental health to escape the rat race at the end of each day and travel home to somewhere more suburban or even rural, allowing for a healthy separation between professional and personal life.
Many professionals who work in London move away, seeking larger houses, gardens, green space and the attractive scenery of the Home Counties while maintaining proximity to the capital. This is particularly true of young professionals who have or are planning to start families.
Nevertheless, over an hour’s commute eats into free time and damages work-life balance, so living a great distance from London can be equally costly in a different sense of the word. Long commutes can also use up large amounts of money, and thanks to the recent rise in train fares, even with a season ticket a long commute is an expensive one.
Although there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all when it comes to the best places to live, here are some of the most popular places to live if you commute into London for work.
For some, finding an affordable place to live in the commuter belt may sound like an impossible task, due to the often extortionate property prices around the capital. Nonetheless, there are some affordable options within an hour’s commute of London.
The most affordable commuter town is currently Apsley in Hertfordshire, where commuters face a 52 minute journey into central London and the average property price is £228,030. At just under an hour away, Apsley is a good choice for those who prefer to remain well outside the urban sprawl of London while retaining good train connections, particularly to central and north west London.
In terms of house prices, Apsley is closely followed by Ebbsfleet in Kent, which – with an average property price of £242,623 – is the second cheapest place to live in the commuter belt. Ebbsfleet offers a very doable 36 minute commute and is perfect for families who live and work in central or south London.
At the other end of the spectrum, Oxshott is the most expensive commuter belt village for new buyers, with an average house price of £1.7 million and a commute of 37 minutes. The picturesque village in Surrey is hugely popular among exurbanites for its excellent schools and countryside scenery and makes for an idyllic place to live if you can afford to do so.
If you’d like to live near London but are unsure of where you can afford to rent or buy, there are some excellent tools at your disposal. The BBC’s house price calculator allows you to enter your data (including whether you want to buy or rent, your deposit if applicable and the amount you can pay each month) and will tell you which counties in the UK you can afford.