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.
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)