A 60-minute commute into central London could save you 60% on your house price – but does living further out always mean you’ll make a saving?
Exclusive data provided to Which? Money by Lloyds Bank reveals the cheapest and most expensive London commuter towns, factoring in the cost of commuting.
On average, commuters traveling an hour into London pay close to £500,000 less for a property compared to the capital. Chatham, 60 minutes away from central London, is the town with the cheapest house prices.
Here, we show you where you could bag a bargain if you’re looking to move out of the city.
And, given the nightmares people are experiencing on the UK’s train services, we’ve published our exclusive customer satisfaction scores for the train companies you could be using, along with the price of season tickets and Travelcards, to understand what the financial cost is likely to be.
Average house prices outside of London
London has long been a notoriously expensive area to buy property, especially for first-time buyers, with some areas requiring an eye-watering 40.7 times the average annual salary to secure a mortgage.
Understandably a lot of prospective homebuyers, have taken to moving out of the capital to buy an affordable home.
The average property price in travel zones one and two in London is a stunning £808,434, new data from Lloyds Bank shows.
Towns which are a 60-minute commute away from the centre, however, have an average house price of £325,091, which works out to £483,342 cheaper.
The figures also show that house price a 40-minute commute away from Central London is £433,320 – meaning that homebuyers pay £375,114 less for a property. Similarly, houses a 20-minute commute away from zones one and two are £513,359, saving homebuyers £295,075.
Cheapest London commuter towns
While the numbers are compelling and there are clearly savings to be made living outside of the capital, does a longer commute really work out cheaper when you factor in travel costs?
We’ve estimated the monthly mortgage repayments of the average house prices in London commuter towns, as well as the average monthly season ticket cost. The mortgage repayments are based on an 85% LTV mortgage with 3% interest over 25 years.
Chatham took the top spot as the cheapest London commuter town. Situated a 60-minute train journey away from the capital, the average house price in this area is £243,068.
Monthly mortgage repayments in our scenario work out to £980 and a monthly season ticket, including a London Travelcard, costs £462 – bringing the total monthly outgoing to £1,442 a month.
While this may come as welcome news if you’re willing to commute from this area, an important thing to bear in mind is the quality and reliability of the trains in operation.
We’ve also analysed data on commuter rail services across the UK to determine the best and worst train companies.
Southeastern, the main train line operating at Chatham station, is among one of the worst train lines, only gaining a 39% customer score.
Interestingly, the second cheapest London commuter town is Basildon, only a 40-minute commute away; suggesting that it’s possible to commute a shorter distance and still pay less for your mortgage and travel expenses.
The table below shows the top 10 cheapest London commuter towns, along with the cost of mortgage repayments and commuting costs.
Most expensive London commuter towns
Beaconsfield, a 40-minute commute, is the most expensive London commuter town, with the average house price topping £1m.
In our scenario, monthly mortgage repayments for the average-price property are enormous at £4,134.
A caveat here. People buying a £1m-plus home are unlikely to be purchasing one with just a 15% deposit. But for consistency’s sake, combined with monthly season ticket of £388, the total monthly outgoing to buy here is £4,522.
While Beaconsfield is the most expensive area for homebuyers commuting, the main train line – Chiltern Railways – ranked highly. Customers using the line scored it at 61%.
While you might expect most of the homes in this area to be closer to Central London, only one of the towns, Wimbledon, was a 20-minute commute away. The rest were 40 or 60 minutes away from zones one and two.
This again indicates that it’s possible to find a home with a shorter commute away from the capital, that works out cheaper than moving further away.
Commuter towns compared
The table below shows the estimated monthly mortgage repayments and travel costs for more than 80 London commuter towns.
It also reveals the Which? customer score of each train line.
Beware of the #trainpain
One of the drawbacks of leaving the city is the reliability of train lines and living in areas with the UK’s most-disrupted stations.
Our analysis of the best and worst train companies revealed that Southern Railway, Southeastern, and Thameslink are among the worst rated.
We want to see an overhaul in the way train companies provide their service. This includes communicating better with passengers about their rights to compensation when there are delays.
If you train has been delayed or cancelled, make sure you claim delay repay compensation.
You can also report your delays, packed trains and cancelled journeys to help us identify which train companies are treating passengers fairly and which ones are keeping you in the dark.
- Find out more: demand a better rail service
How do lenders calculate mortgage affordability?
As a rule of thumb, lenders are allowed to loan up to four-and-a-half times the total income of you and anyone you’re buying with.
They also consider a variety of other factors are taken into account as well, including your creditworthiness, debts you currently owe, average spending and your personal circumstances.
When deciding how much to lend to you, most lenders will look at your household bills, recent wage slips, and bank statements before making a decision.
Some lenders use automated systems, while others manually underwrite the loan – meaning they may be open to considering exceptional circumstances.
- Find out more: how much can you borrow?
First-time buyer mortgages
As well as being able to afford your mortgage repayments, you’ll also need to put down a deposit, which can be difficult if you’re struggling to save.
First-time buyers will usually have to put down a deposit of 5%-10% of the property value.
As an alternative, 100% mortgages may be appealing as they allow you to buy a property without having to save up for a deposit.
There are currently two types of 100% mortgages available on the market – guarantor mortgages and family deposit mortgages – and both will require financial support from your family.