Exploring London’s commuter belts with Data
London is getting pricier, and it seems that there is very little that can be done to reduce the desirability of our nation’s capital city. Indeed, this inexorable rise is pricing some residents out of the city, with many first-time buyers opting to make the daily commute from the surrounding home counties instead.
To help first time buyers make the move out of the capital, the estate agent Yopa has created an interactive tool to help you choose the best commuter town based on your own needs.
We thought we’d give it a go, and the results are rather surprising!
When you first enter the widget, the initial results show that Leagrave in Bedfordshire is the best place to live, even though it has slightly higher than average crime levels. This seems to be because the average house price is £257,000, well below London’s average of more than £480,000, but it is also fairly close to London, with only a 38 minute travel time on train. Season ticket prices are reasonable at £5,256, and there is up to 96 trains per day.
Reading is next, followed by Luton and St Albans.
We then had a play around and wondered would happen if we didn’t care about season ticket prices but wanted the cheapest property possible. This would be ideal for someone who works from home but still needs to get to London occasionally.
Our results show that Stoke-on-Trent would be ideal for us, even though it’s all the way over in Staffordshire. It’s 87 minutes away, and the average house price is only £141,000. Crime levels are a little higher than average, but for those who need to consider an occasional trip into London, it would be an interesting choice.
Okay, so what’s next.
Plenty of us have children, so we played around and had a quick look at places with great primary and secondary schools. Grantham in Lincolnshire came out tops, and the commute times only a little over an hour. Average house prices are £207,745, which isn’t too bad if you have to only go to London occasionally. If you had to do it every day, you would spend 11 hours a week commuting, but even then, that might be worth it for good schools and affordable housing.
Nuneaton was next, and that was closer at 59 minutes and with a lower average house price. Higher-than-average crime levels, however, could put some people off.
Price is often the most important part of anyone’s decision to buy a house, simply because if an area is unaffordable, there’s not a great deal you can do about it other than save up for a few more years!
However, that’s where this tool excels. While it doesn’t cover every area in the United Kingdom, it does have most of the major commuter routes and locations. We set the criteria to no more than 60 minutes and started playing around with prices.
On our first attempt, we came up with High Brooms in Kent as our low-crime area. It’s part of Tunbridge Wells, but you’d only spend just under £300,000 on average to live there. Crime is lower than average, but the commute time is relatively slow at 53 minutes. If you didn’t mind slightly higher crime rates, then Leagrave pops up again.
At £337,000, Farncombe is a possible location, and it has a few more pubs than High Brooms. The commute is somewhat shorter at 40 minutes, although you do end up at Waterloo, which can be a plus point or a negative point depending on your viewpoint of the station. Alternatively, Witham in Essex is a possibility, although that is five minutes further away but average house prices are £30,000 cheaper.
Overall, this commuter tool makes it easy to determine what’s important for you and it helps you to make an informed choice.