London commuter towns, where’s the best hotspots and what do they have in common?
London commuter towns may be the more obvious choice to live, as, while London has many, many things going for it, affordability isn’t one of them. It’s far from the cheapest place, with higher rents, higher house prices and a higher cost of living than the rest of the country.
As such, people often look to live on the outskirts – in more affordable locations – and commute inwards. London’s commuter belt, as a result, has boomed in size in recent years, with more commuter towns popping up to provide easy access to the capital.
These boroughs tend to have some things in common – fast transport links, good local schools, easy access to green space and a slower pace of living than the hustle and bustle of London life.
Now, research conducted by credit comparison site TotallyMoney.com has revealed the best London commuter towns, based on house prices, life satisfaction, commute time and the annual cost of a season ticket.
Swanley takes top ‘hotspot.’
Swanley, in Kent, took the top hotspot as the best of the London commuter towns, closely followed by Bushey in Hertfordshire. By contrast, Weybridge and Virginia Water in Surrey were found to be the least attractive commuter destinations.
The research revealed London’s commuter towns top 25, a list that was heavily dominated by towns in Kent, Hertfordshire and Surrey, with some locations also based in Buckinghamshire, Essex and Berkshire.
Some familiar names are there, including High Wycombe, Sevenoaks, Epsom and Potters Bar – places that have become best-known for their ‘commuter credentials.’ But lesser-known lights, such as Horley and Earlswood in Surrey and Purfleet and Laindon in Essex, are also well-represented.
Kent, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Berkshire dominate top 10
The top 10, meanwhile, was made up entirely of towns in Kent (Swanley, Sevenoaks and Ebbsfleet), Hertfordshire (Bushey, Watford and Waltham Cross), Surrey (Redhill and Horley) and Berkshire (Maidenhead and Slough).
All these locations possess superb transport links and also tend to benefit from easy access to green space and nearby countryside, as well as busy and thriving town centres, good local schools and many activities for children and adults.
London commuter towns, Ebbsfleet and Slough, offer the best travel options
For those looking for the speediest early morning journey into London, Slough is the place to be, with a commute time of just 17 minutes. Despite being home to HS1, Ebbsfleet can’t quite beat that, with a journey time of 18 minutes.
As you would expect, all the locations in the top 25 have excellent, fast rail links, with Earlswood in Surrey suffering from the longest commute time, at only 43 minutes. However, with lower house prices (£245,321) and a life satisfaction level of 8 out of 10, there is still plenty to tempt would-be commuters to the Redhill suburb.
Sevenoaks the district for highest life satisfaction
The maximum life satisfaction levels in the top 25 were both found in Kent; and both in the same area, too. The affluent town of Sevenoaks and the more residential area of Swanley, in the Sevenoaks District, both recorded life satisfaction levels of 8.15.
Those with one eye on the cost of travel, meanwhile, would be most at home in Ashford, Epsom and Waltham Cross, all with season tickets priced at comfortably below £3,000. For those most interested in affordable house prices, the county of Essex offers the commuter towns with the lowest house prices, including Basildon, Purfleet, Pitsea and Tilbury.
Weybridge and Virginia Water, poor performance explained
London commuters, however, are much less likely to be attracted to commuter towns with very high house prices, expensive commute costs and longer journey times into the capital, which helps to explain why Weybridge and Virginia Water in Surrey perform so poorly.
In the case of Virginia Water, the average house price is £1,421,304, an annual season ticket priced at £3,664 and the journey time into London is 47 minutes, which means it scores low on commuter-friendliness.It’s a similar problem for other high-end Surrey locations like Esher and Leatherhead, Buckinghamshire towns Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross and the Hertfordshire towns of Chorleywood, Harpenden and Rickmansworth.
It’s a similar problem for other high-end Surrey locations like Esher and Leatherhead, Buckinghamshire towns Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross and the Hertfordshire towns of Chorleywood, Harpenden and Rickmansworth.
Top five places share affordable house prices and fast commutes
Looking at the top five in particular (Swanley, Bushey, Watford, Redhill and Ebbsfleet), a few clear trends emerge. House prices in these locations are very affordable or relatively affordable, commute times into London are fast (ranging from 18 minutes from Ebbsfleet to 31 minutes from Redhill) and life satisfaction levels are all high (7.5 or above).Commute costs aren’t particularly cheap, above £3,000 in all cases and above £5,000 in the case of Ebbsfleet, but this is offset by
Commute costs aren’t particularly cheap, above £3,000 in all cases and above £5,000 in the case of Ebbsfleet, offset by more affordable housing, good work-life balance and the ability to get into the City in double-quick time.Even in locations such as Maidenhead and Sevenoaks, where house prices and commute costs are higher, high life satisfaction levels and fast, reliable train links to London still make them extremely desirable commuter hubs.
Even in locations such as Maidenhead and Sevenoaks, where house prices and commute costs are higher, high life satisfaction levels and fast, reliable train links to London still make them extremely desirable commuter hubs.
How do you define a commuter hotspot?
In essence, one negative factor – for example expensive commute costs, high house prices or a longer commute time – needs to be offset by other positive factors to make a commuter hotspot. Ebbsfleet and Luton, for instance, had by far the highest commute costs of any town in the top 25 (both above £5,000), mitigated by affordable house prices – £221,241 in Ebbsfleet; £253,683 in Luton – and fast commute times of just 18 minutes and 24 minutes respectively.
The formula for a commuter hotspot, then, is simple – affordability, quick journey times, tolerable commute costs and high life satisfaction levels.
With London’s population set to boom in the coming years, commuter hubs will take on even more importance as people head for the suburbs in greater numbers. The arrival of Crossrail, too, will increase the desirability and reputation of some previously unheralded locations, which means the London commuter towns and the ‘hotspots market’ will become even fiercer.
For more information about how to sell your home online this springtime, give us a call on 0207 060 4674. To give sellers a helping hand with what can sometimes be a stressful and daunting process, pick up a copy of our ‘free pack for house-sellers’ to get you started.
At House Tree, we are a family-run online estate agent and will do all we can help sell your home online for the best possible price.