Moving out of London? Here are the best commuter hotspots

Despite London house prices having dropped slightly over the last two years, cost of housing continues to be an issue with little on the horizon to change this anytime soon. It’s no surprise, then, that many are searching outside of London to find their next home. But if this means travelling into London for work, where should you buy?

We’ve looked at average house price, length of commute time into London by train, the cost of a season ticket, and the town’s overall life satisfaction to rank 116 places as viable commuter hotspots.

Where you should move to depends on the factor that’s most important to you. But if you’re looking to move out of London — whether it’s to take advantage of more affordable housing, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, to raise a family somewhere quieter, or something else — our research could help you find the next place you’ll call home.

The best commuter town overall…

Purfleet, Essex, soars to the top of the table as the best commuter town overall. It scores a respectable 7.77 out for 10 for life satisfaction, with houses prices averaging £210,820 — just under the average house price across the UK. The journey to London Fenchurch Street is 33 minutes, which is arguably a much shorter commute than many Londoners face, and National Rail annual season tickets cost £2,376 — almost the same price as a TfL Zone 1–5 travelcard.

Purfleet is also close to Lakeside Shopping Centre, which houses over 250 shops and over 50 cafés and restaurants. It’s said to attract an average of 500,000 visitors a week — ideal for those who miss the livelihood of London.

Top 25 Commuter Towns

Rank#
Town County Commute Time (mins) Av. House Price Season Ticket Price Life Satisfaction
1 Purfleet Essex 33 £210,820 £2,376 7.77
2 Waltham Cross Hertfordshire 28 £373,309 £1,968 7.75
3 Cheshunt Hertfordshire 27 £370,043 £2,220 7.75
4 Erith Greater London 38 £276,515 £2,016 7.77
5 Gravesend Kent 24 £308,797 £3,508 7.76
6 Laindon Essex 34 £264,050 £2,852 7.77
7 Maidenhead Berkshire 21 £552,587 £3,092 7.88
8 Grays Essex 39 £288,504 £2,376 7.77
9 Swanley Kent 33 £334,699 £2,636 7.76
10 High Wycombe Buckinghamshire 30 £401,331 £3,556 7.87
11 Ebbsfleet Kent 18 £306,995 £4,668 7.76
12 Basingstoke Hampshire 38 £318,744 £4,424 7.97
13 Pitsea Essex 39 £242,617 £3,004 7.77
14 Leighton Buzzard Bedfordshire 32 £323,642 £4,460 7.9
15 Bushey Hertfordshire 21 £548,859 £2,492 7.75
16 Biggleswade Bedfordshire 31 £313,210 £4,836 7.9
17 Hatfield Hertfordshire 24 £447,304 £3,044 7.75
18 Eton Berkshire 37 £449,864 £2,868 7.88
19 Harlow Essex 34 £313,525 £3,344 7.77
20 Arlesey Bedfordshire 38 £280,378 £4,460 7.9
21 Bletchley Buckinghamshire 39 £253,863 £4,504 7.87
22 Watford Junction Hertfordshire 21 £414,846 £3,568 7.67
23 Potters Bar Hertfordshire 27 £557,524 £2,472 7.75
24 Wickford Essex 38 £325,458 £3,700 7.77
25 Farnborough Hampshire 38 £334,642 £4,756 7.88

The worst commuter town overall…

Our research ranks Virginia Water, Surrey, at the bottom of our list of commuter hotspots. Although life satisfaction here scores 7.72, the average house price is £1,421,304; if your priority is to move out of London to benefit from cheaper housing, you’ll definitely fare better elsewhere.

Even if you have close to £1.5 million to spend on a home, you’ll likely find somewhere much closer to London — unless Virginia Water’s four-course golf club, Wentworth Club, is something you find particularly attractive. Commuters will also have to fork out £3,048 on an annual season ticket.

Worst 10 Commuter Towns

Rank#
Town County Commute Time (mins) Av. House Price Season Ticket Price Life Satisfaction
107 Swindon Wiltshire 55 £292,407 £8,740 7.75
108 Shepreth Cambridgeshire 54 £631,375 £4,784 7.63
109 Luton Bedfordshire 44 £262,193 £4,176 7.12
110 Appleford Oxfordshire 58 £621,500 £5,932 7.74
111 Cambridge Cambridgeshire 53 £447,705 £5,592 7.44
112 Northampton Northamptonshire 46 £245,959 £5,636 7.17
113 Peterborough Cambridgeshire 51 £210,265 £6,540 7.28
114 Bedford Bedfordshire 64 £310,739 £4,688 7.29
115 Oxford Oxfordshire 56 £511,332 £5,932 7.38
116 Virginia Water Surrey 45 £1,408,785 £3,048 7.72

The best town by price…

If London house prices are a bit out of your reach, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, might be more attainable, with the average house costing £204,113. And with a commute time of 49 minutes (anything under an hour is fine, right?), it’s not hard to see why Wellingborough might be a more viable option for many.

It’s also a bustling market town with many high-street brands in the town centre.

Keep in mind, however, that an annual season ticket will cost you £6,556. If Wellingborough’s affordable house prices tickle your fancy, its travel costs certainly shouldn’t be ignored.

Counties at a glance

County
Av. House Price
Bedfordshire £301,684
Kent £345,302
Essex £346,227
Sussex £377,804
Cambridgeshire £401,646
Oxfordshire £458,361
Hertfordshire £482,497
Hampshire £504,587
Berkshire £509,089
Buckinghamshire £571,807
Surrey £623,084

The worst town by price…

Unsurprisingly, the most expensive town in our study is Virginia Water, Surrey. With an average house cost of £1,421,304, it’s likely to be a too-hot-for-comfort commuter hotspot for most.

The best town by commute time…

If extra time in bed is important to you — or if too much travel time will have you seeing red before you reach the office — then Ebbsfleet, Kent, might be for you. It takes just 18 minutes to get into London by train, and season tickets have a mid-range cost of £4,668.

The worst town by commute time…

Seaside resort Brighton sadly has the longest commute time according to our research. While having the beach on your doorstep is a temptation many would find hard to resist, unfortunately it’ll take you 76 minutes to travel into London.

However, life satisfaction in Brighton scores 7.76. Perhaps the sea breeze calms the effects of a longer journey time.

The best town by season ticket cost…

The cheapest town for travel among our list of commuter hotspots is Banstead, Surrey. A season ticket will set you back £1,916.

Although travel costs are something you should think about before you relocate, keep in mind that the average house price here is £544,017 — more than double the UK average.

The worst town by season ticket cost…

The commuter hotspot that will leave you raking up the highest travel cost is Swindon, Wiltshire. A season ticket will cost you £8,740, which is on a par with what many pay for their rent or mortgage. The commute time is also pushing an hour at 55 minutes, so it’s a lot of money considering how long you spend travelling.

Top performing counties…

Essex surfaces as one of the best counties for commuter hotspots, with three towns ranking among the top 10: Purfleet (1st), Laindon (6th), and Grays (8th). The travel time is less than 40 minutes and life satisfaction scores a decent 7.77 for all three towns.

Low performing counties…

Despite the guided punt tours, great archaeological finds, and being home to the prestigious university, Cambridgeshire doesn’t have many towns that perform well as commuter hotspots. Shepreth, Cambridge, and Peterborough rank among the bottom 10 in our research. This could largely be down to above-average house prices, longer travel times, and high season ticket costs.

Thinking of buying in a commuter hotspot? Get your finances in order first

You’ll need to make sure your credit rating is in good shape if you want to get the best mortgage. A good place to start is with your Free Credit Report.

It lists your credit accounts all in one place, so you can quickly see if anything needs your attention. The best parts? It’s completely free and won’t negatively affect your credit rating.

Get My Free Credit Report

Once your credit rating looks in good shape, we recommend using our award-winning mortgage comparison service to find the best mortgage for your needs. It should help you get the best deal, pay less interest, and account for your monthly budget.

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Methodology

House Prices as of 23/01/18 – www.zoopla.co.uk
Season Ticket Prices as of 12/02/18 – ojp.nationalrail.co.uk
Journey Times from City/Town to London on 12/02/18 – www.nationalrail.co.uk/
Life Satisfaction – Taken for area. If the area was not available, the most local regional setting was picked – www.ons.gov.uk

On the overall map, for each location we assigned a score out of 40 based on the 4 available metrics. Each metric is scored between 1 to 10 using a linear equation.

Each location is then ranked from 1st to 116th based on its weighted score. When using individual filters, the data is re-ranked based on either a score out of 10 (due to 1 metric) or 20 (due to 2 metrics).