Commuters to London willing to make one-hour trip could see big savings on home

London workers could save nearly £450,000 on the cost of a home - if they are willing to commute from outside the city for an hour each way per day, according to research.

Towns that are an hour's commute from central London, such as Wellingborough, Southend, Sittingbourne and Rugby, have an average house price of £294,903, compared to the average price of £741,919 for a property close to work, Lloyds Bank found.

The difference would make an average saving of just over £447,000 - or around 60% - on property prices.

Even when taking into account the typical annual rail cost for a one-hour daily commute each way at £4,989, a commuter would have to make the same journey for 89 years for the total rail costs to wipe out the benefit in house prices, Lloyds said.

Wellingborough in Northamptonshire was identified as being the most affordable commuter town, where the average house price, at £183,345, is 4.1 times the average annual earnings for central London workers.

Peterborough in Cambridgeshire was the next most affordable town, with the average house price there costing 4.2 times the typical annual earnings in travel zones one and two in London, at £189,319.

Kettering in Northamptonshire, Chatham in Kent, Swindon in Wiltshire and Luton in Bedfordshire were also identified as particularly affordable areas for commuters into central London.

While many London workers find it cheaper to live outside the city, commuters working in Manchester and Birmingham often find property values are cheaper within these cities, compared with surrounding areas.

The average house price in Birmingham is £172,000, but several towns around a 40-minute rail journey away - including Derby, Coventry, Burton on Trent and Leamington Spa - command a higher average house price of £211,661.

The same applies to a number of towns that are around 40 minutes away from Manchester, such as Warrington, Chorley, and Macclesfield, which have a higher house price of £204,161 typically compared with the average property value of £162,214 in Manchester.

And some London commuters end up paying more to live outside the city. For example, the typical property value in Beaconsfield is £996,212, in Gerrards Cross it is £822,363 and in Harpenden it is £747,602.

Andrew Mason, Lloyds Bank mortgage products director, said: "Commuters to London who don't mind a longer journey between home and work could reap the financial benefits of living outside of the capital.

"However, the decision of whether to live in the city or further away is not simply a trade-off between financial costs and journey times. Quality of life is also a major factor: family circumstances, better schools, physical environment and homes that offer better value for money also come into the equation.

"That explains why, especially outside London, commuters are often prepared to pay a premium to commute when they could be better off in purely financial terms living closer to their place of work."

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In Scotland, Edinburgh is seen as a city with huge growth potential. In 2014, prices in Edinburgh were up 10% in a post referendum boom that shows little sign of slowing down.

Local agents are not expecting quite such stellar growth for the next 12 months, but they think price rises will be well above the average predicted for the whole country.

Rightmove named this as the area where it expects house prices to grow the most over the next five years. It says that over this period there will be a huge number of people moving out of London in order to afford to get onto the property ladder. They want a reasonable commute combined with plenty of attractions in the local area, and Southampton offers all this. With relatively affordable housing stock, it's a prime candidate for growth.

Luton was Rightmove's candidate for the second biggest house price rises over the next five years. It emphasised that this isn't a mater of opinion, it is the result of crunching the data.

Luton is another major beneficiary of the move out of London, and while it is arguably not as attractive a place to live as Southampton, it's only 23 minutes into central London - which rivals some of inner London's commuter times. With average prices of £179,368, it's clearly a far more affordable option, and the area has already started to show signs of a boom.

This was the third area suggested by Rightmove. As with Southampton, it is well positioned for London commuters, and also has huge local attractions.

A survey last year asked young professionals to name the place they would most like to live, and Brighton and Hove were the only areas that appeared on the list outside London.

One of the reasons it's not higher up the list is that houses are already on the pricey side, with an average cost of £338,956 - up 13% in the past year alone.

There may be few people who grow up with the dream of living in Swindon, but the electrification of the rail line to London will bring travel times down across the West Country, so Swindon becomes part of the outer commuter area.

Given that the average property costs £168, 968, it's easy to see why Swindon will be a popular option for commuters on a tight budget.

Bath is also going to benefit from electrification of the line, because the commute to London will fall to a manageable 70 minutes. The beauty of the city - along with a vibrant social and cultural life - makes it a clear choice for more long-distance commuters.

Of course, with an average asking price of £374,617, it's not a tremendously cheap place to buy, but the geography of the city restricts development, so these prices are expected to rise still further.

Property Frontiers says that the booming house prices in Oxford are set to get even higher. At the moment, travel to London takes 60 minutes, but this will reduce even further in 2016 when the line is electrified. Prices in the most desirable parts of the centre aren't much cheaper than London.

However, further out there are pockets of affordability, and when the Water Eaton station opens in 2015 it will open up areas to the north of the city too.

Manchester has seen enormous property price rises over the last couple of years, and Property Frontiers expects this to continue into 2015.

Other commentators are expecting the growth to slow over the next few years, especially given the gains made since 2012. However, demand for properties remains buoyant, and with the growth of the local economy, price rises seem inevitable.

Rising prices in London have pushed buyers further and further out of the centre, so estate agents are now claiming zone three as 'the new zone 2'.

Savills believes that the biggest gains over the next five years will be the less glamorous districts - putting the South and East in the frame. Gritty areas that could benefit include Ladywell, Streatham and Catford in the south, and Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Walthamstow in the east.

Cambridge could also perform well. It has already had house prices lifted by the growth of tech companies to the north of the city, and the arrival of pharmaceutical headquarters will help push prices up further.

In 2016 a new rail service from the city to the science park will keep prices rising, and beyond the opportunities presented by the local economy, Cambridge is also part of the 'outer commute' area of London, which Savills expects to shoot up in value over the next five years.

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