Does commuting further pay?

Bognore Regis beachJeff Moore/Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment

According to estate agents at Savills, if you are happy to add a quarter of an hour each way to your daily commute, you could save a small fortune on property. They examined the property prices in traditional commuter towns, and then did the same for towns just a bit further down the track by the seaside. They discovered that commuters could save up to £8,000 for every minute they add to the journey.

So is it enough to sway the average commuter?

The research

The team at Savills selected 10 seaside towns which sit at the end of a commuter train line from London. They then compared the average extra travel time from a well established commuter town on the same line, and the difference in house prices. They used that to calculate the saving per minute of travel for those prepared to move slightly further out.

In one example, Bognor Regis has an average price of around £222,106. Chichester, meanwhile, has an average price of £278,457 and is just 11 minutes closer to London. The team, therefore calculated a saving of £5,123 per extra minute of journey time.

Another one is Lewes, where the average house costs £335,000 and the journey time to London is 69 minutes. If you add another 16 minutes and go to Eastbourne, the average property costs £129,000 - which is a saving of £8,000 a minute.

Across the 10 locations the average saving is around £100,000, 34% cheaper than the average for the established commuter locations.


Yolande Barnes, head of Savills research highlighted Folkestone as having particular potential, especially given the high speed line and a wave of regeneration. She said it is just 8 minutes beyond Maidstone, and offers a £5,000-a-minute saving. The property, she adds, has a great deal of affordable potential, with a 6 bed house in the best end of Folkestone available for £400-450,000.

Barnes also rates Southend, which is no further for London in terms of travel time, but where average houses are £50,000 cheaper. She also singles out Hastings and Worthing as "locations with good period housing stock and relatively low values."

Savills suggests this means we need to look frothier afield: "Not least because the South East is, literally, quite full and development land very limited."

The problem

However, the problem is persuading Londoners that the travel time is worth the effort. In a separate report Savills states: "There is a noticeable reluctance by many Londoners to move too far from their desks in these uncertain times, while negative headlines about the cost of commuting further dampens desire for a house in the country."

It concludes that it's worth Londoners conquering their fear of the rest of the country, adding: "Buyers should not be deterred. Rail fare increases are more than offset by the savings made on the purchase price, and should also be viewed in the context of the current low interest rates, which are making further savings. The bold buyer would therefore be wise to make his move now, while there is less competition in the market."

But is it enough to get you to commute further? Let us know in the comments.
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