With low cost domestic air travel in the UK making it cheaper to fly than catch a train to some UK cities, leading online estate agent, eMoov.co.uk, has highlighted which UK cities could become London commuter zones due to their mix of affordable property when compared to the capital.

eMoov researched eight cities outside of London with direct flight paths to the capital and found that seven of them offered an annual mortgage saving when commuting by plane, compared to the sky high prices of buying in the capital.

eMoov compared the average house price between the capital and other short haul flight options around the UK with a direct service into London. They then worked out the total cost of a weekly commute, flying on the Monday morning and returning on the Friday evening, plus four nights’ accommodation either at or close by to the relevant airport, when booked six months in advance.

eMoov than divided the number of working days in 2017(252 minus 22 days’ holiday), by five to find the number of working weeks in the year (46), before multiplying the cost of weekly travel and accommodation by this figure.

Finally, eMoov worked out the average mortgage cost after deposit and the annual payment for both London and the other locations, subtracting the cost of travel and accommodation from the difference, to show which cities UK homeowners would be better of living in and commuting to the capital by plane, rather than buying in London.

The city offering the biggest annual mortgage saving was Glasgow. With an average house price of just £155,195 the annual mortgage saving compared to the capital is £21,275. The cost of a weekly round trip into London is just £52.98 via Ryan Air for an 80-minute flight, with accommodation bringing the total to just £204.98 a week, or £9,429 a year. It would take 47 years of travelling at this cost before the deficit between the average property price in London and Glasgow was bridged. When removing the travel and accommodation costs from the annual difference in mortgage payments, homeowners in Glasgow would still be £11,845 better off a year.

Despite a troubled past, Belfast is fast becoming a go to city for culture and tourism and offers the second cheapest option for commuters flying into London. A year’s worth of travel and accommodation will set you back just over £8,000 and the annual mortgage saving fall just short of £20,000 when compared to London, resulting in an annual saving of £11,547 for another 80-minute commute into London.

Manchester is the best bet for those wanting to remain in England and third biggest saving across all eight of the cities researched. At £162,970 it’s home to the second lowest average house price and a BA flight will take you to Heathrow in just 65 minutes, with travel and accommodation costing £12,334 annually. When subtracted from the annual mortgage saving when compared to a London property, Manchester homeowners would save £8,564 a year.

A similar commute from Leeds would result in homeowners in the Yorkshire city cashing in on an annual saving of £7,670 on their mortgage, after paying the cost of £12,150 a year for travel and accommodation.

Although at 85 minutes each, the flight times from Newcastle and Edinburgh are a tad longer, homeowners opting to pay the lower price for a property and commute to the capital by plane could save over £7,000 a year on the cost of their mortgage in both cities.

The city offering the lowest saving is probably the most inviting despite this. Paying £240,164 to live in Newquay and commuting by plane to the capital would still result in an annual mortgage saving of £5,498. So the option to surf at the weekend and work in London during the week could be more realistic than you think.

There was only one of the eight cities outside of London where homeowners would be worse off by commuting in by plane. With an Average house price of £259,221 the cost of a mortgage after deposit in Exeter is £233,298 and, when compared to London, the annual mortgage saving is £16,234.  

However, the return flight from Exeter to London City Airport is the second most expensive of the eight cities (£115) and the cost of staying around London City Airport is also the most expensive of the lot (£320 a week). As a result, the total cost hits £20,055 a year, cancelling out the mortgage saving and seeing homeowners in Exeter £3,820 worse off.

With London property prices continuing to push aspirational buyers further and further out of the capital, there’s no telling where we might be in ten years’ time in terms of the commute people will consider if prices continue to climb from the inside out. 

Luckily the increasing improvement of transport infrastructure across the nation has made commuting larger distances more manageable. We’re not saying commuting by plane is an option for everyone and there are other time requirements to consider in terms of checking in on time. However, as with all new commutes you soon adapt and if it was a choice between 80-minutes stuck on the Central line at rush-hour, five hours on a train from Cornwall, or an hour or so gliding through the clouds, I know which one I would pick.

When you also consider that you could live in the likes of Glasgow, of Manchester, where the cost of living and buying is dramatically lower, but still earn a London wage, it seems even more attractive. Couple this with the fact that many companies may even foot the travel or accommodation costs and the savings continue to rise.”

Not only this but the continuing innovation of technology is helping to improve almost every area of industry and allows many to work remotely, meaning that the standard 9-5 isn’t always spent in the office with many working from home every other week. So surfing off the coast of Cornwall at the weekend whilst working in London during the week could very well be viable.

Russell Quirk

Founder & CEO, eMoov.co.uk

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