Boris Johnson recently proposed a potential bridge connecting France and England claiming that it is “ridiculous that the countries are linked by a single railway”. While his idea was widely derailed by parties on both sides of the channel, a second crossing could transform the North of France into the next London commuter hotspot.
This might sound crazy, but as with the North of England, an improvement in travel infrastructure could see UK buyers priced out of the London market opt for the North of France’s far more affordable property prices, at the expense of a little more time spent commuting.
Bridge or no bridge, we have highlighted that Lille is already a realistic commuter option for those looking to work in London during the week and spend their weekends indulging in fine French cuisine and culture.
We calculated the commuting cost of living in Lille and working in London by taking the Eurostar on Monday mornings, staying in a hotel for four nights and returning home on Friday evenings. All while taking advantage of the capital’s higher wage potential and LIlle’s far more affordable property prices and cost of living.
Lille: £2,948 (349% cheaper)
As one of the most expensive cities in the world, London property prices are well above those in other areas of Europe, with an average price per square meter is £13,245, while Lille has a much more affordable price tag at £2,948. Therefore, owning property in Lille would be much easier for those trying to get on the property ladder. Similarly, the rental cost for a one-bedroom flat in Lille averages £526, while London’s average rental cost is £1,661.
London: £2,292 (66% higher)
In addition, the average monthly salary after tax in London (£2,292) is nearly £1000 higher than that in LIlle (£1,377), so while you can save on the price of your property, you don’t have to sacrifice your salary potential.
London: £1,364 (Zone 1 & 2)
A train ticket on the Eurostar on Monday morning, returning to Lille on Friday evening averages £109 and takes just an hour and 22 minutes, while a hotel in walking distance from King’s Cross/St. Pancras station only sets you back £220 for four nights.
Even if you don’t work around KIng’s Cross/St. Pancras, the additional cost of a Zone 1 & 2 Oyster Card is just £131 per month and £1,364 annually.
With the higher wages offered in London and lower cost of living in Lille, the north of France is a great option for those looking to own property a commutable distance from London.
Another option is to commute the two hours each way from Brussels to London for the work week for an average cost of £100 round trip. Although it is slightly more expensive to rent a one bedroom in the EU’s capital at £694, the price per square meter when purchasing a property is £2,887. With an average salary much closer to that of London at £1,866. It is less attractive to commute all the way across France into the UK.
A last idea for commuters wanting to work in the UK from France would be to catch the train from Calais, which typically takes 55 minutes. Since the train station is outside the city centre, it is likely that the cost of housing will come with a less expensive price tag than other cities in France and the UK.
The cost of London property puts it out of reach of many working and renting in the capital and while the idea of commuting from France may sound a bit bonkers, we’ve seen what is considered a commutable distance in the UK, continue to stretch further and further due to improvements in transport infrastructure.
Yes, commuting between Lille and London is far more expensive than your average TFL travelcard, but the upshot is a foot on the ladder at a much, much more affordable price than London can offer. That said, I would personally take a seat on the Eurostar for an hour and a half over 30 minutes on a packed tube train and when you consider the benefit of London’s higher wage coupled with Lille’s lower cost of living, it seems a very attractive proposition.Russell Quirk