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Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Commuting -

FLEXI-HOURS staff, along with peo­ple who work mostly from home and fam­i­lies will­ing to sac­ri­fice an easy com­mute for a much big­ger house, are search­ing the fur­thest reaches of com­muter­land for towns and vil­lages that are off the fa­mil­iar home coun­ties map and there­fore good value.

A league ta­ble, pub­lished ex­clu­sively by Homes & Prop­erty to­day, re­veals the des­ti­na­tions tak­ing Lon­don fam­i­lies deep into Kent, Es­sex and Sus­sex.

The re­search, by Sav­ills, analy­ses sea­son ticket data for all 433 com­muter sta­tions around Lon­don from where jour­neys to Zone 1 take be­tween 75 min­utes and two hours.

HERNE BAY

The top des­ti­na­tion is Herne Bay in Kent, de­spite a lengthy 79-minute chug to cen­tral Lon­don and a £6,632 an­nual sea­son ticket price. But when the av­er­age house price is £265,000 and an av­er­age de­tached house costs £330,000, no won­der 63 per cent of Herne Bay com­muters are head­ing for Lon­don. Prices have grown 43 per cent in the last five years.

Herne Bay lives in the shadow of its fancier neigh­bour, Whit­stable. And while it is no cute fish­ing vil­lage, the town has some good-qual­ity Vic­to­rian hous­ing, a pretty sea front and a gen­er­ous swathe of Blue Flag beach — al­beit shin­gle — lined with beach huts.

Since this is Kent, many lo­cal chil­dren com­mute to gram­mar schools in nearby towns such as Can­ter­bury.

Paul Clarke, di­rec­tor of David Clarke es­tate agents, says half his clients are fam­i­lies quit­ting Lon­don, in­clud­ing a healthy pro­por­tion of those look­ing to re­tire to the coast.

Buy­ers could pick up a smart fourbed­room Vic­to­rian semi- de­tached house for £350,000, or a Brighton-style bow-fronted Re­gency home on the seafront with four to five bed­rooms for about £500,000 to £600,000. Clarke

a two-bed­room home at Brook­side Cot­tages, Crowhurst, be­low. Through Fox & Sons (01424 578014) ad­mits the town has a rather dis­mal high street, but says there are signs of new life with a few new shops and restau­rants, as buy­ers give up on ex­pen­sive Whit­stable and shift their al­le­giances.

Herne Bay is one of five Kent lo­ca­tions to make to­day’s top 20. Five Es­sex towns and vil­lages are also on the list, led by two more coastal lo­ca­tions — Wrab­ness and Mist­ley, where 62 per cent of sta­tion users are sea­son tick­ethold­ing com­muters.

In pure num­bers there is lit­tle to split these two vil­lages set in the lovely Stour Val­ley coun­try­side, with travel time of 91 and 85 min­utes re­spec­tively, and sea­son tick­ets cost­ing £6,820 ver­sus

£1.5 mil­lion: a five-bed­room clas­sic oast house, above, in Roberts­bridge. Call Camp­bell’s (01424 578031)

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