The cost of living in the capital is at an all-time high with the average flat costing £400,000, almost 50% higher than the average UK house price of £286,000. With prices expected to expand even further over the next five years, leading online estate agent, Emoov.co.uk, has researched four commuter hotspots where demand is high, but you can still purchase an affordable property and commute to the capital.
The high demand for these new commuter hotspots is testament to the mass migration of London property buyers, to the relative financial comfort of the Home Counties. With the potential of a house for the price of a London flat and a commute to the capital in under an hour, the commuter belt has never been so appealing and it shows no signs of stopping.
Bicester is one of the most rapidly expanding towns in Oxfordshire and is currently undergoing extensive re-development including the modernisation of the town centre and expansion of the two railway stations. Services already exist into London Marylebone, with direct links into Milton Keynes and Oxford coming over the next few years with the East West line. Bicester has also been earmarked as the next garden city and is already popular for its shopping village.
It also offers a good opportunity for prospective parents, who by living just a few miles outside of Bicester in bordering Buckinghamshire, can take advantage of the county’s grammar school system.
In just the last six months property values have jumped by over £12,000 and this could continue with the ongoing re-development of the area. A three bed family home in the sought after new Kingsmere development starts at £315,000, which will just about buy you a room in London.
Didcot has also been designated as an area of major growth and has benefited from substantial generation over the last eight years, with plans to build 200 homes a year, up until 2026. There are also confirmed plans to double the size of the Orchard Centre, Didcot’s retail area, bringing new business and creating a large number of new job opportunities.
Didcot is also home to one of the largest property developments in Europe (Great Western Park) and is also benefiting from the regeneration of its train station. No surprise then that over the last decade property values in the area have increased by £90,000 and £18,000 in just the last year.
South of London, Maidstone in Kent offers commuter links into a number of London stations. Historically Maidstone was an industrial town, opposed to the development of railway links into London. Today it’s one of the top five hubs for retail in the South East, with developments such as the Mall Maidstone and the Lockemeadow Centre providing a wealth of options for shoppers. The area also has a thriving nightlife, with Maidstone’s nocturnal economy bringing in around £75m a year.
Maidstone not only offers the cheapest season travel card into London of the four, but also the cheapest average house price, despite having enjoyed an increase of more than £20,000 in the last year alone.
Looking east of the capital, Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire provides direct routes into Liverpool Street. The town centre has all but been re-built, with an infrastructure over-haul creating a number of new riverside apartments and penthouses, as well a rejuvenated shopping complex with cafes, bars and shops.
There has also been the re-development of the Havers Estate on the outskirts of the town and Bishop’s Stortford is only due to expand further, as its convenient proximity to Stanstead Airport and other transport routes helps fuel its growth. The average price paid for a property in the area is higher than the UK average, but a steal when compared to what it might get you in the capital. At 66%, demand in Bishop’s Stortford is higher than nearby Brentwood, but the average house costs around £12,000 less.
Founder and CEO of Emoov.co.uk, Russell Quirk, commented:
“It’s understandable that for the younger generations in particular, the hustle and bustle of the city is an attractive proposition, however the price paid as a result is often an extortionate level of rent.
Those approaching the next stage of their lives, anxious to get a proper foothold on the UK property ladder, aren’t looking to invest in a family flat, they want a house. London is no longer an attractive proposition, even for those looking for a flat and it hasn’t been for some time now.
You really have to make that call, remain in London, or increase your commute and secure a property you can build a concrete foundation with. There are a wealth of commuter areas like Maidstone, like Bicester, that provide realistic alternatives, and we believe prices in these areas will increase dramatically over the next decade or so. It’s these places that are allowing UK buyers to have the quality of life they desire, without having to sacrifice the career prospects on offer in the capital.”