Many of us have reevaluated where we want to live and in what type of property over the past year. Moving out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into the attractive, tranquil suburbs has become a popular option, particularly for families looking to address their work-life balance.
There is a world of choice within an hour or so of the capital, whether you are in search of a modern town with the potential for price growth, a countryside escape with plenty of hikes and stunning views, or a traditional market-town with good-value homes and well-rated schools. There’s something for everyone along the commuter belt, but which would suit your lifestyle best? We’ve rounded up our top choices of the best commuter towns near London to assist you with your home hunt. Or, if you are looking to sell your property located in one of these in-demand areas, be sure to work with an estate agent that will highlight the enviable transportation links.
What is the commuter belt?
A commuter belt is defined as the area surrounding a large city, where many people who work in the city tend to live. Often, this is due to more affordable housing options, more open green spaces and a slower-paced routine, particularly favoured by families.
There is no strictly defined border of London’s commuter belt, but it contains all urban areas within an approximate 40-mile radius of Charing Cross with some of the outermost towns including Ayslebury, Reading, Aldershot and Maidstone. In fact, many now consider there to be a second commuter belt stretching to a 55-mile radius from the capital. However, with so much choice it can be difficult to choose which of these towns would suit your daily lifestyle and often only the usual suspects appear when searching for the best commuter towns near London.
The towns located further afield from the capital’s centre are the obvious choice for people that want the best of both worlds: the job opportunities on offer in London and more affordable homes in a quiet, natural location, ideal for bringing up a family. The average price considerably drops the further you move from the capital, allowing you to focus on finding your dream home within your budget.
So, what are the best commuter towns near London?
As Surrey’s expert estate agents, we may be ever so slightly biased when it comes to choosing our favourite spots surrounding the capital! But for good reason, Surrey has options to suit a variety of home seekers from single social butterflies to young adults starting families and beyond. There are several high-standard universities dotted throughout the county, stunning areas of outstanding natural beauty to explore and hundreds of fantastic entertainment venues, restaurants and cultural spots.
With the quaint village of Shere being the most popular due to its appearance in several blockbuster movies, we’ve compiled our list of the best commuter towns near London considering not only transportation links but also schools, job market, safety, entertainment options and more for each area rather than popularity.
Guildford sits just over 25 miles away from the capital and is largely regarded as the county town. Its close proximity to London makes it the perfect balance between rural and city life for those that still crave the buzz of the capital, and therefore it is a popular choice for young professionals.
Whilst the vibrant shopping scene and nightlife suits these young adults, Guildford is also a popular choice for families due in part to the world-class educational establishments dotted throughout the area. And, the town centre also has purple flag status signifying there is a strong mix of activities to suit all resident. There’s always something to spike your interest along the cobbled high-street from the historic Guildford Castle, the famous Guildhall gold clock and hauntingly stunning Guildford Cathedral.
Annual rail fare: £3,936 per year
Time to London: 35 mins
One of the largest towns in the northwest of Surrey, Woking is under a 30-minute train ride to London. Again, its close proximity to the city and fantastic train lines make it a great alternative if you want the buzzy capital lifestyle but on a cheaper budget.
Woking’s town centre has a large range of independent boutiques, restaurants and bars to enjoy after a day in the office with lush greenery surrounding the town too should you wish to escape to the country on the weekends. With new developments beginning to dominate the skyline, thereby bringing Woking to the forefront of home seeker’s minds, it’s a great choice for those looking to settle in one of the best commuter towns near London.
Annual rail fare: £3,440 per year
Time to London: 30 minutes
Dorking is situated in the very heart of the Surrey Hills; as you stroll along the historic streets, you’ll catch glimpses of the rolling hills and lush woodlands. This area is less popular with commuters and therefore, there is a wonderful sense of community within the charming market town. Yet in just under an hour, you can be back in the hustle and bustle of the city.
This quaint village-like town is a wonderful playground for children, with the famous Box Hill ideal for adventure days out. It’s also a great option for cyclists, nature lovers and avid hikers as the stunning countryside will be right on your doorstep.
Annual rail fare: £2,888 per year
Time to London: 52 minutes
Located just 5 miles south of Guildford, the historic market town of Godalming is bustling with students and young professionals. It’s a great option for those with a limited budget as the town lies on the outskirts of the more popular county town centre, yet you can still be in the hustle and bustle of it all in a flash.
The town is surrounded by rich woodlands, which countryside lovers may prefer to the busier Guildford. There’s plenty to do and see in the surrounding area, from taking a walk through the tree-lined trails and a boat ride along the River Wey to browsing through the attractive town centre with its vibrant, independent shops and cafes.
Annual rail fare: £4,116 per year
Time to London: 55 minutes
Situated on the border of Hampshire and West Sussex, Haslemere is the most southerly town in Surrey; to reach the capital will take you just over an hour. Driving through the charming town, you’ll pass a stunning mixture of Georgian and Victorian houses, surrounded by trees. The town has easy access to most major airports and ferries, with reliable road links to the south coast and railway line from Waterloo to Portsmouth – an ideal choice for those wanting to be in reach of the seaside.
Locally, you’ll find excellent educational establishments – a large attraction for families looking to relocate or start a family. And, the area acts as a gateway to the South Down National Park in which families can spend carefree hours appreciating nature.
Annual rail fare: £4,472 per year
Time to London: 1 hour 2 minutes
The closest of our top picks, Surbiton is an affluent suburban neighbourhood of southwest London. The area is made only more desirable with its beautiful parks and the nearby Thames, and thereby attracts families looking for great schools and more space but still want a quick commute.
Just 11 miles from the city centre, Surbiton allows you to enjoy the daily busy buzz of the capital yet allows you to retreat to the leafy outskirts as night falls. Keen cyclists will definitely fall in love with Surbiton too, since the suburb has lots of cycleways enabling you to quickly reach the countryside.
Annual rail fare: £2,080 per year
Time to London: 18 minutes
#7 Thames Ditton
Nestled on the Thames between Kingston, Hampton Court and Esher, Thames Ditton, unlike many other outer London suburbs, has resisted over developments and retained its historic, semi-rural feel.
You’ll find a mix of centuries-old housing dotted alongside independent cafes and shops ideal for a relaxing day out on the High Street. And, the area has a wonderful community vibe, perfect for bringing up children in – it’s likely you’ll be on first-name terms with the baker in no time!
Annual rail fare: £2,064 per year
Time to London: 35 minutes
Finding your dream home in one of the best commuter towns near London, with Seymours
Moving to a property on the London commuter belt provides you with the best of both worlds: the city and rural experience. You’ll be able to quickly reach the capital for work and enjoy theatre performances and evenings out yet, you’ll then be able to retreat back to the slower-paced lifestyle on the leafy outskirts. Particularly for families, this relocation can be a fantastic opportunity, allowing you access to top education establishments and wide open, green spaces to reconnect with nature. But, with so many options on offer, it’s crucial you work with a knowledgeable estate agent that will be able to help you pinpoint the right location for your lifestyle.
Find your property partner for life with Seymours Estate Agents.
If you’re looking for free market advice or want to sell your home with an estate agency you can trust, get in touch with the team at Seymours using this contact form, or call us at one of our 19 dedicated branches here.