Commuter towns: counting pennies and minutes

With prices in the capital forever soaring, commuter towns remain popular with families looking for space, proximity and value for money. But when you take into account the extra travel time and costs involved, you have to ask: is the move out of the city really worth it and, if so, what are the best options?

As with most things, the answer is not an altogether simple one. If you’re looking for pure proximity you’re going to get one answer while if you’re looking for an affordable house to buy, you’re going to get another. So, what we did was combine the annual travel costs and mortgage repayments of all towns with a commuting population of over 10%, and ranked them from 1 – 74.

By this equation, the top ten most expensive commuter towns came out as: Beaconsfield, Gerrard’s Cross and Esher (which tend to offer lower travel times into London), while the most affordable included Tilbury, Grays and Chatham (and conversely involve the longest travel times).

But not everything can be measured in pennies, travel time matters too – after all, who doesn’t want a little longer in bed in the morning or bit more time with the kids at night? With this in mind we went searching for the middle line: towns that offer both affordability and shorter travel times.

With this in mind, Gravesend came up as a good choice, being the sixth most affordable commuter town but with a travel time of only 24 minutes. Another good choice was Hatfield (being 12th most affordable) with its travel time of 22 minutes, as were Stevenage (14th most affordable) with a travel time of 25 minutes, Welwyn Garden City (18th most affordable) with a travel time of 26 minutes and Slough, with a super low travel time of 17 minutes (only one minutes longer than the very lowest travel time) and ranking as the 20th most affordable. 


*Train times taken from TFL to most relevant central London mainline station. Times are subject to change

Top 10 Commuter towns

  1. Tilbury
  2. Newport
  3. Grays
  4. Chatham
  5. Ashford
  6. Dartford
  7. Gravesend
  8. Basildone
  9. Swanscombe
  10. Gillingham