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Moving out of London: where should you buy a house?

New research claims Luton is the best town for commuters

Moving out of London: where should you buy a house?

London can be an expensive place, especially if you’re trying to get on to the property ladder – leading many homebuyers to look further and further afield. 

With demand growing in these commuter towns, the challenge for London workers is to find an affordable home to buy while also trying to avoid being packed like sardines in a train carriage every morning.

Here, we explain two new pieces of research into the affordability of commuter towns around London, and offer advice on how you can find the best place to live.


Luton tops list of commuter towns

New research from the estate agent Jackson Stops & Staff claims Luton is the number one commuter town for London workers – with low property prices, speedy train services and comparatively cheap parking costs.

And while Slough boasts the fastest journey time into Central London, sleepy commuters might struggle to get a seat in the morning – a big disappointment given annual season ticket costs of £3,500.

Commuter town property prices

While prices in London have stagnated – rising just 2.6% year on year according to official figures – the average price of a property in the capital remains out of reach for many, at £484,362.

This of course means that homebuyers must cast their nets wider to get their hands on a bargain. But in some cases the most desirable towns have enjoyed significant growth in recent years and may already be out of reach.

Only two towns in Jackson Stops & Staff’s top ten – Luton and Basildon – boast property prices anywhere near the national average of £243,520, and four – Dorking, Weybridge, Woking and Oxford – are more expensive than Greater London.

House price growth

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two cheapest towns – Luton and Basildon – also enjoyed the biggest house price increases in the year to October 2017.

Redhill, meanwhile, was the only town where house prices actually dropped year-on-year.

Most affordable towns for homebuyers

So if you’re in search of an affordable property outside London, where should you look?

A separate piece of research from the BBC (using data from Hometrack) assessed average mortgage repayments on a two-to-three bedroom house or flats and train ticket costs.

The research found that the Medway town of Chatham was the most affordable place for London commuters to buy a home.

St Albans, meanwhile, was the most expensive – with total mortgage and travel costs of over £27,000 a year.

Cheapest London commuter towns for homebuyers

Town Annual mortgage Train season ticket Total cost
Chatham £10,800 £4,124 £14,924
Luton £11,376 £4,176 £15,552
Basildon £13,356 £2,852 £16,208
Harlow £13,416 £3,344 £16,760
Southend £14,352 £3,528 £17,880
Maidstone £12,792 £5,144 £18,116
Slough £15,924 £2,628 £18,552

Most expensive London commuter towns for homebuyers

Town Annual mortgage Train season ticket Total cost
St Albans £23,748 £3,500 £27,248
Beaconsfield £22,392 £3,180 £25,572
Guildford £20,196 £3,620 £23,816
Hemel Hempstead £18,084 £3,716 £21,800
Tunbridge Wells £16,368 £4,644 £21,012
Fleet £16,440 £3,956 £20,396
Reading £14,784 £5,300 £20,084

Note: Data from Hometrack

How to find the right place to live

Finding the right town to buy a home isn’t all about property prices, of course.

In our full guide on finding the best places to live, we take a look at everything from amenities to neighbours, and explain how you can spot an area that’s on the up before it’s over the hill.

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