‘The life­style change is just bril­liant’

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

from Time­wise, the flex­i­ble work­ing cam­paign group; of those who don’t, nearly two thirds would pre­fer to do so.

In Au­gust, the Towlers swapped their 1,300 sq ft Vic­to­rian ter­race in Wandsworth for a 3,500 sq ft manor house with a large gar­den in Wood­bor­ough, in an area of out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty. “The life­style change is just bril­liant and Pewsey Vale ticks all the boxes,” says An­drew. There is a pub, restau­rant and good pri­mary school, as well as all the ameni­ties of the nearby vil­lage. And on the days when he or Betty do need to travel to Lon­don, the train from Pewsey takes one hour and nine min­utes.

The Towlers paid £1.325mil­lion for their coun­try home, which is con­sid­er­ably less than they would have had to fork out for a sim­i­lar house in a pop­u­lar com­mut­ing vil­lage. “Prices in the Pewsey Vale are typ­i­cally about 25 per cent less than their coun­ter­parts in prime west Berk­shire vil­lages,” says Ed Heaton, a buying agent who works in Lon­don and the Home Coun­ties.

Such ar­eas, out­side of an hour’s com­mute and thus once con­sid­ered farflung, are now at­tract­ing home­buy­ers who work flex­i­bly; they can live fur­ther away from the train sta­tion, and the sta­tion can be a longer jour­ney from Lon­don. “In the past few years we have seen far more peo­ple look­ing in the Pewsey Vale,” says Heaton. “Early morn­ing trains do take a lit­tle longer so it is still best suited to those who don’t need to com­mute into Lon­don ev­ery day.”

The free­dom of a two or three-day-aweek com­mute has opened up other parts of the coun­try, too. Honey-coloured homes in the Glouces­ter­shire vil­lages be­tween Cirences­ter, Chel­tenham and Stroud are on home­buy­ers’ wish lists, even if they are off the beaten track. “Usu­ally peo­ple want to be within 10 min­utes of a sta­tion, but now we are see­ing more flex­i­bil­ity,” says Ta­nia Thomp­son, of Jack­son-Stops. “Peo­ple are look­ing be­tween 20 min­utes and half and hour from a main­line sta­tion.” She es­ti­mates 30 per cent of her cus­tomers are from Lon­don.

Vil­lages such as Bus­sage, near Stroud, and Birdlip and Rend­comb, near Chel­tenham, are about a 20-minute drive from train sta­tions but still of in­ter­est to part-time com­muters. A de­tached house in Bus­sage typ­i­cally costs £415,333, less than half the £1,076,959 av­er­age in Greater Lon­don, ac­cord­ing to Carter Jonas. The av­er­age in Birdlip is £519,222, and £547,085 in Rend­comb. These less sought-af­ter parts of the coun­try are full of un­der-the-radar gems. Towces­ter and Brack­ley in Northamp­ton­shire and Ol­ney and Buck­ing­ham in Buck­ing­hamshire are pic­ture-per­fect mar­ket towns, but have no rail­way line.

Con­se­quently, they are “of­ten not con­sid­ered by in­com­ers as an op­tion,” says Rachel John­ston, a buying agent with Stacks Prop­erty Find­ers in the East Midlands. But if you are pre­pared to drive 20 min­utes to a sta­tion – Ban­bury, Bices­ter, Mil­ton Keynes or Northamp­ton – you can buy a lovely slice of ru­ral Eng­land. The av­er­age de­tached home in Towces­ter and Brack­ley costs £365,415 and £351,820 re­spec­tively.

“It’s like the Cotswolds with­out the tourists,” says John­ston. But don’t hang around, she adds, as the price dif­fer­ence be­tween “daily” and “oc­ca­sional” commuter towns “is erod­ing

Adam and Betty Towler with baby Ge­or­gia, above, moved from Lon­don to the Pewsey Vale, right

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