Finding London's Most Affordable Commuter Towns

Do you need to live near to London but are put off by high property prices?

As a software developer I find that all the best jobs are in and around London. But it's not easy to find somewhere that's close to London AND offers affordable property!

So I looked around for a website that would tell me which areas offered the greatest value in the South East.

Oddly, I couldn't find such a site, so I decided to build it myself. The result is BTLFinder.com.

Finding Undervalued Areas

How do we find undervalued areas?

What I have done on BTLFinder is to create a ValuMiner tool, which finds those areas for us.

Very simply, the ValuMiner takes all the postcode districts in a given radius of Central London, and plots distance from London against average property prices in that district.

The results are quite interesting. The chart below shows the average price of 1 bedroom properties within a 25 mile radius of Central London. In other words, all the postcode districts that are roughly bounded by the M25:

Average prices for 1 bedroom properties in postcode districts, plotted against distance from Central London
Average prices for 1 bedroom properties in postcode districts, plotted against distance from Central London

Prices are plotted along the vertical (Y) axis. They get exponentially higher the closer you get to Central London. So close to the centre you get places such as Earl's Court (SW5) and Hyde Park (W2), where (at the time of writing) prices start at around £500,000 just for a 1 bedroom flat!

Prices do drop quite steeply once you get further out though. 1 bedroom properties in Holloway (N7) are priced at around half those in Earl's Court, yet both places are approximately the same distance from Central London.

Location is everything with property. Barnes (SW13) is a third more expensive than Streatham Hill (SW2), even though the latter is geographically closer to Central London.

So Streatham Hill is more affordable than Barnes. What other areas have a good affordability index?

The BTLFinder ValuMiner picks out these areas as being some of the lowest priced in the London area when it comes to 1 bedroom properties:

  • Oval (SE11)
  • Peckham and Nunhead (SE15)
  • Crystal Palace (SE26)
  • Sudbury (HA0)
  • Colindale (NW9)
  • Harrow (HA2)
  • Sanderstead (CR2)

These areas could be good bets for The Next Big Thing. To look for signs of gentrification, visit an area you're interested in and look for new bars and coffee shops opening. New transportation links are also a good thing, as is urban regeneration (of the kind that's currently going on down in Elephant & Castle).

The Most Affordable Commuter Towns

Want to start a family but don't want to stay in that tiny 1 bedroom shoebox sized apartment?

Further out of London there are plenty of opportunities in the surrounding towns.

There is a huge range in prices, as this chart of average 3 bedroom property prices shows:

Average prices of 3 bedroom properties plotted against distance from Central London
Average prices of 3 bedroom properties plotted against distance from Central London

Bentley (GU10) is 70% more expensive than Shoeburyness (SS3), yet both are around 40 miles from Central London.

More lower cost areas include:

  • Much of Medway on the North Kent coast
  • Colchester and Clacton in North Essex
  • Milton Keynes and surrounding areas
  • Hilsea in Hampshire (PO3)
  • The NN7 postcode district of Northamptonshire
  • The PE7 postcode district of Cambridgeshire

West Sussex and Surrey may be hideously expensive these days, but there are still pockets of value in Kent and Essex. I did my degree in Kent, and I own a property in Essex. Both counties have an abundance of attractive countryside, while being on London's doorstep.

Interested in finding more affordable places to live in and around London? Take a look at the ValuMiner to find the best value places in SE England. And if you've got any opinions about the areas mentioned in this article, then post your thoughts below!

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