Great places you can afford to live
If you are saving up to move to a quaint country town, take heart. New research from estate agent Knight Frank has identified 11 towns close to the country’s most sought-after locations where you get more bang for your bucks. Dubbed the “in-betweener” towns, these include Chesham, where the average price of a house is half that of nearby millionaire’s haunt Beaconsfield. And Warminster, which is convincingly more affordable than sought-after Bath.
The results are based on the average prices of detached properties last year, using Land Registry figures.
Edward Cunningham, partner at Knight Frank Country, explains: “Buyers have often been governed by either commutability or affluent areas with excellent schooling when moving to the country. However, with the increase in Stamp Duty and the threat of a Mansion Tax, these criteria could become less important. We are likely to see more buyers consider new catchment areas that are perhaps less established but still offer wonderful lifestyles, great value for money and are good investments for the future.” sized family home at a decent price, with top schools and a commute to London in under an hour,” says Toby Harris, partner at Strutt & Parker Banbury. “There is a steady demand from Londonbuyers, which will only grow as more people are priced out of traditional commuter towns.” Average price Banbury, Leamington Spa, For sale Converted historic inn with six bedrooms and six acres of land, (01295 273592; struttandparker.com) Just 26 miles north-west of London, Berkhamsted enjoys green belt status in the Chiltern Hills and has different housing stock to the wealthier commuter towns of Harpenden and Beaconsfield. Surprises include a canal, a Canadian totem pole and the fact author Graham Greene attended Berkhamsted School.
Oliver Beales, partner at Knight Frank Berkhamsted, says: “With a good spread of homes between £250,000 and £2million, it has been relatively undiscovered until recent years. Both Beaconsfield and Harpenden have a high proportion of top-end homes, making Berkhamsted a more accessible option for those seeking a county market town with all the facilities that make it attractive to families and commuters alike.” Average price Berkhamsted,
Harpenden, For sale Grade-II listed, two-bedroom cottage with pretty gardens and good transport links, (01442 861610; knightfrank.co.uk) Situated in the Chess Valley, Chesham is in an ideal location for those who enjoy rural pursuits, have families, or are young professionals climbing the property ladder. It’s also an attractive market town where, on average, you can buy a property at about half the price of its wellheeled neighbour, Beaconsfield, which is just a pony trot away.
“Nearby villages such as Ashley Green, Ley Hill and Cholesbury are sought-after by young families looking to enter the county’s grammar school system, and commuters picking up the Metropolitan line in Chesham, which goes straight into Baker Street,” says Oliver Beales, partner at Knight Frank Berkhamsted. Average price Chesham, Beaconsfield, For sale Spacious, detached fivebedroom home built in 2008, (01494 725636; savills.com) Families are kept busy, with parks by the river, walks along the blossom trail in the spring and a plethora of sporting facilities, from rowing to bowls. Local schools, such as Bengeworth Academy, have solid Ofsted reports. The town’s value-formoney housing stock makes it popular with retired people, too. As for communications, the M5, M40, M42 motorways link it to the rest of the UK, while London Paddington can be reached by train in under two hours.
Evesham’s house prices have fallen or remained static since 2007, whereas nearby Cheltenham Spa and Stratford upon Avon have continued to improve, but now could be a good time to buy.
As Tom Cumberland, senior negotiator at Hamptons International Broadway, says: “The town is starting to be recognised as up-and-coming, particularly by high street brands such as Waitrose, which has had an application passed to develop a new store in the centre.” Average price Evesham, Cheltenham, For sale Rebuilt 19th-century cottage and barn with superb views. (01386 388156; hamptons.co.uk). Newbury is as well-placed for commuters as pricier neighbour, Oxford. The M4 and A34 act as crossroads, while trains reach London Paddington in under an hour. This will improve further when the Great Western mainline is updated in 2016. Choice of state schools is reportedly good, while private schools include Prince Charles’s alma mater, Cheam.
“Newbury and the area offer a wide range of property from exclusive modern apartments in town starting around £250,000 Oxford option: Newbury attracts a spectrum of buyers to larger houses with land just outside from £1.35million,” says Johanna Newbury, manager of Hamptons International, Newbury. “This attracts buyers across the spectrum from those trying to get on the property ladder, to downsizers, as well as families upsizing.”
It is a hub for investment buyers, too. Short-term workers at blue-chip companies in the area, such as Vodafone and Sony, are creating demand for buy-tolets. Average price Newbury, Oxford, For sale Detached, thatched cottage with four bedrooms, Aga and heated indoor pool, (01635 813407; hamptons.co.uk) Notable schools in this vibrant market town include Churchers College and Bedales. Shopping is good and there is a selection of cafés, pubs and restaurants. Walkers can strike out into the South Downs, or get a head start on heading to the beach.
Commuting is almost as easy as it is from Winchester, with a mainline fast train to London Waterloo. It is also on the A3 dual-carriageway that shoots up to London via the Hindhead tunnel.
“Journey times have been greatly improved since the opening of tunnel,” says Russell Grieve, partner at Knight Frank Haslemere. “Because of this, we see the majority of buyers come from south-west London in particular, Wandsworth, Battersea, Fulham and Barnes.” Average price Petersfield, Winchester, On the market Grade-II listed Dumpford Farmhouse has six bedrooms, five receptions, an annex and views across the South Downs, through Knight Frank (01428 734940; knightfrank.co.uk) Fans of this market town reckon its steep streets exude an independent spirit. There’s certainly an arty atmosphere, bolstered by its café culture and