Property Trends in London Commuter Towns - Part 1
The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic triggered a huge shift in the way our whole society runs. From greater efforts to improve public health to a greater concern for our mental health after the whole population experiences isolation, the way we live will be permanently altered by this pandemic. One way that this is abundantly clear is through the great migration from London to Commuter Towns nearby that came as a result of working from home and the rising cost of living crisis which is making living in London less viable. According to PwC, as many as 30,000 people left London as a result of the pandemic last year, with London office occupancy rate at 28% and TfL passenger numbers barely 40% of what it was pre-pandemic, this poses a large problem for investors. London house prices have seen the smallest growth in the UK with values increasing only 2% in 2021 and average inner London rent has fallen 11.6% compared to the start of the pandemic. This is a worrying thing for those who have invested in London properties, hoping they would generate great profits. So what’s the solution?
While many people have left London, they have done so to areas where they can effectively travel into the city in a timely manner. These commuter towns offer cheaper living while still making it possible to go back to London should people be called into the office again. Many of these towns are great opportunities for investment with signs of significant growth and large potential profits. But which towns should you invest in? There are many factors to consider like commute time, house prices, and local lifestyle. In this article, we’ll go through our top 5 choices of commuter towns and explain why they’re so popular so you can be more informed about your investments.
St Albans - Hertfordshire
St Albans is one of the top commuter options for London emigres. With a direct train that can take you to the centre of London in 20 minutes and season ticket prices at £3,712, it’s easy to see why this cathedral city is so popular but that’s not all it has to offer! Beyond its gorgeous Cathedral, the city is rife with a rich history that the locals love to engage with including genuine, Roman roads. There are all the things you’d want, shopping centres, parks, entertainment, and leisure centres within walking distance. The average house price is £582,115 which brings it a little bit higher than some of the other entries here but due to the high demand for properties in this area, you can easily recoup that through rent!
Even before the pandemic, this town has been a hotspot for commuters, with the coming introduction of Crossrail only adding to its appeal. Only a 25-minute train ride away from the centre of London, there’s lots of developments coming into the town that will make property here a very valuable investment. As a result of the Elizabeth Line bringing in huge amounts of money, the town has built lots of new homes to add to its existing stock of period family houses. While a season ticket is on the more expensive side, coming in at £4,736, this has not had an effect on people choosing to move to this town for its vibrant, multicultural, and family-friendly community. With the average house price at only £371,580, now is the best time to invest in property here as these developments are sure to see a rise in value.
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
Situated in the picturesque valley of the River Wye, surrounded by the sprawling countryside of the Chiltern Hills, High Wycombe is a gorgeous town. There is a certain prestige that comes with living in High Wycombe, leading to an increase in house prices of 8% in the last twelve months (bringing the average to £381,015) which will attract any investor’s eyes. This is not simply due to the natural beauty that surrounds this market town but also its breadths of connections. With direct lines to both London and Birmingham that can take you either way in under half an hour as well as direct access to the motorway network, High Wycombe is an excellent transport hub that will attract many people to move there. After successfully securing £11.7 million Government’s Future High Streets Fund, there’s a lot of exciting developments and regeneration projects coming to the town which will see house prices only rise!
Only a 22 minute train ride away from the St Pancras, this town has huge potential for great capital growth in the future. With its excellent rail connections and the London Luton Airport, this town is one of only 24 Enterprise Zones in the UK. House prices at the moment are very cheap, at only £292,600 this is a great place for thos looking to invest in property with a lower entry-level option. Get in soon though, with recent announcements showing huge expansions for the London Luton Airport, this town is bound to see huge increases in scope for property development to keep up with a predicted rise in demand.
With the average house price of £212,887, Peterborough has the cheapest properties available on this list. This town has become a hotspot for tech workers wanting to live less than an hour’s commute away from London while benefiting from cheaper property prices. While it is a bit farther away than some of the other towns on this list, with a train time of 53 minutes, it’s still a viable option for those looking to commute, especially for the affordability it provides. According to CBRE, who looked at data from over 150 commuter towns to help figure out the best deals, for every ten minutes you add to your commute to London, property prices become £21,762 cheaper. This is not an amount to be scoffed at, evidenced by how many people are willing to take those extra ten minutes, so the property here is definitely something to consider investing.
It’s important that when you’re investing in property, that you take into consideration the location, not only in terms of its local area but also in its wider connection to the rest of the country. By investing in commuter towns, where people will always be want to have access to London job sectors, you can secure a secure passive income and steady profit growth. In our next article we’ll go through the counties of Surrey, Essex, West Sussex, Oxfordshire, and Chiltern Hills to see which towns hold the best potential for capital growth.