Which Commuter Towns Are Most Affordable?

For many of us, hybrid working is now the new normal, and this has given rise to more London workers moving out into the suburbs. Whatever the motive, whether it be greener spaces or being priced out of the London property market,  suburban living has a lot to offer. But this pepped up demand has resulted in property prices in certain commuter towns skyrocketing since the start of the pandemic. Indeed, amongst the top 10 most expensive towns in England, all are within commuting distance of London. Are there any towns with direct rail routes to London that remain affordable?

Below we look at the five towns with easy access to London (max. 1 hour train journey), where the average property price remains below £400,000. At the time of writing, interest rates are high and so we’ve calculated the monthly mortgage costs based on a 6% interest rate, a 15% deposit, and a 30 year term. Furthermore, we’ve listed the cost of an open return train ticket to London so you can see the overall cost of living and commuting in these towns.

Banbury

Banbury is a market town on the River Cherwell in northern Oxfordshire, South East England. It had a population of 54,000. The town is a significant commercial and retail centre for the surrounding area of north Oxfordshire and southern parts of Warwickshire and Northamptonshire which are predominantly rural.

Banbury is located 64 miles (103 km) north-west of London, 37 miles (60 km) south-east of Birmingham, 27 miles (43 km) south-east of Coventry and 22 miles (35 km) north-west of Oxford.

Living costThe numbers
Average property price£306,000
Indicative mortgage cost (monthly)£1,559
Cost of train to London (daily)£96
Time it takes to commute (minutes)62

High Wycombe

High Wycombe is a market town in Buckinghamshire, England. It had a population of 128,000, making it the largest town in the ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire.

High Wycombe is located 29 miles (47 km) west-northwest of Charing Cross in London, 13 miles (21 km) south-southeast of Aylesbury, 23 miles (37 km) southeast of Oxford, 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Reading and 8 miles (13 km) north of Maidenhead.

Living costThe numbers
Average property price£367,000
Indicative mortgage cost (monthly)£1,871
Cost of train to London (daily)£33
Time it takes to commute (minutes)31

Leighton Buzzard

Leighton Buzzard is a market town in Bedfordshire, England, in the southwest of the county and close to the Buckinghamshire border. It had a population of 37,000.

Leighton Buzzard is located 36 miles (58 km) northwest of Central London and linked to the capital by the Grand Union Canal and the West Coast Main Line. The built-up area extends on either side of the River Ouzel (here about 2 metres wide) to include its historically separate neighbour Linslade, and is administered by Leighton-Linslade Town Council.

Living costThe numbers
Average property price£337,000
Indicative mortgage cost (monthly)£1,715
Cost of train to London (daily)£38
Time it takes to commute (minutes)30

Market Harborough

Market Harborough is a market town in the Harborough district of Leicestershire, England, close to the border with Northamptonshire. The town’s population was 25,000. It is the administrative headquarters of the larger Harborough District.

Market Harborough is located about 15 miles (24.1 km) south of Leicester, 17 miles (27.4 km) north of Northampton and 10 miles (16.1 km) northwest of Kettering. The town is near the A14 road running from the M1/M6 motorway Catthorpe Interchange to Felixstowe. The M1 is about 11 miles (17.7 km) west via the A4304 road.

 

Living costThe numbers
Average property price£344,000
Indicative mortgage cost (monthly)£1,751
Cost of train to London (daily)£142
Time it takes to commute (minutes)59

Reading

Founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD,  Reading is a large town in the county of Berkshire, England. It had a population of 233,956 at the 2021 Census. It is located 38 miles (61 km) west of London, on the River Thames. Reading is a major transport interchange, with direct rail links to London, Bristol, Oxford, and Birmingham.

Living costThe numbers
Average property price£333,000
Indicative mortgage cost (monthly)£1,697
Cost of train to London (daily)£55
Time it takes to commute (minutes)24

How to get cheaper train tickets

As we note above, with the cheapest train ticket to London in our list being £33, train travel has become ridiculously expensive! These significant train costs must be weighed up against the savings gained from the lower property prices of these commuter towns. But is there a way to reduce the price of a train ticket? We’re all familiar with Railcards but if, like me, you’re over 30 then these are sadly not an option. What you may wish to try as an alternative is an app called TrainPal. TrainPal reduces the cost of train travel by splitting up the tickets and huge savings can be made by doing this! For example, a £96 ticket from Banbury to London can be reduced to £66.

The quality of life on offer

Do your research and perhaps take a day trip to one or two of the towns on this list to get a feel for the place. It’s worth noting that a couple of towns mentioned in this article, namely High Wycombe and Reading rank (11th and 12th respectively) on a list of worst places to live in the UK. However, so does the very lovely Henley on Thames (where the average house price is £795,000) and so I’m not sure how well researched or impartial that list is!

Give me more tips!