Where to buy a home in 2022: top commuter towns from Hampshire and Surrey to Kent and Essex

Once upon a time, Londoners would travel to Southend or Brighton because they were lured by the sea. There was a time when Londoners would travel to Southend or Brighton to escape the city’s lure. The average property price in Hampshire is?585,000 But be prepared for top prices.PetersfieldAverage property price: ?585,000Just on the fringes of the South Downs, you won’t go short of open country in this historic Hampshire town, which is great for walkers, runners and cyclists.In the town centre, the physic garden — a 17th-century herb garden — is a lovely little oasis.READ MORE
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Petersfield is a busy local centre with lots of annual fairs and festivals, it has a resident-run community garden and Petersfield Festival Hall hosts plays and concerts year round.WinchesterAverage property price: ?596,000Set on the river Itchen and beside the South Downs, Winchester has a charming old city centre but it is vibrant and quirky enough to keep Londoners happy.There are lots of hipster-friendly little cafes, traditional pubs and cocktail and wine bars, so you won’t miss your cafe culture too much. There are many great independent boutiques within walking distance. The train ride to Waterloo takes just over an hour. There are many moorings along the River Lymington in Lymington, Hampshire
/ Alamy Stock PhotosThe New ForestAverage property prices:?475,000. This 285-square-mile ancient forest is right on the coast and is paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s perfect for running, walking or letting horses do the heavy lifting. The New Forest has a lot of country pubs. And things get livelier on the coast, particularly around the yachting town of Lymington.Traditionally the forest has been seen as too far away for London commuters but the pandemic has changed that.The forest’s big catch, however, is its prices. Lymington and Brockenhurst offer train services to London (about a 90-minute drive from Waterloo). Both towns have excellent schools, but they are often crowded with tourists in summer. A four-bedroom house in one of these areas would cost about ?1 million.For more bang for your buck you could go for New Milton, which also has a station but is more built up and less quaint than Brockenhurst.Alternatively try Sway, a sleepy village light on amenity but heavy on charm. Here a similar house would cost about ?800,000.Or you could look at the market town of Ringwood, where a four-bedroom house is likely to cost from about ?750,000.Where to buy a home in KentBroadstairsAverage property price: ?360,000A picture postcard sort of town, all beach huts and fisherman’s cottages, and with some particularly good ice cream parlours. A view of Viking Bay in Broadstairs
/ Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures LtdRamsgateAverage home price:?222,000 Trains from either Broadstairs or Ramsgate to St Pancras International take just under an hour and a quarter.SandwichAverage property price: ?359,000If you don’t mind a slightly longer journey, then pretty Sandwich, set on the River Stour, is a definite contender. It was one Kent’s original Cinque Ports, and the walled town center still retains a lot of medieval charm. There are two excellent golf courses nearby, as well as many bars and bistros. Sandwich Bay is a narrow, gravelly beach. Pegwell Bay is four miles away and is beautiful. The commute to St Pancras International takes an hour and three-quarters.Dungeness and LyddAverage property price: ?253,000Kent’s coast is not all fish and chips on the sea wall and bucket and spade fun, though. Near the Sussex border, you’ll find Britain’s most remarkable beach, Dungeness. This small group of houses is known as “the village”. These homes are often purchased by holiday homeowners who have replaced the ramshackle bungalows and cabins with modern, landmark houses. The village’s unique charm is due to its mix of modern and old. One graphic designer transformed a ramshackle Victorian rail car into a perfect seaside escape. However, after moving from London to Cumbria, travel times proved too difficult and Lydd is now up for sale. Lydd is located on the edge of Romney Marsh, just four miles from Dungeness. It takes 17 miles to drive to Ashford. You can reach St Pancras in just 38 minutes from Ashford. It is also a short drive to central London. There are many great restaurants and cafes in the town, including Sorrel. Just outside the town are the stunning views from Box Hill, which Jane Austen immortalized in her novel Emma. There are plenty of things to do on wet days, including a leisure centre, pool, theatre, and annual music and arts festivals. Denbies Wine Estate is a beautiful spot for a weekend stroll.
/ Alamy Stock PhotoGodalmingAverage property price: ?491,000A terrace costs about ?396,000, and a detached house ?761,000.Commuting: From 46 minutes to Waterloo.This country town passes the kerb-appeal test with flying colours: it is set beside the River Wey, with narrow windy little town-centre streets, pretty, traditional shops and just-so hanging baskets.In the town you will find plenty of good gastropubs and being in the Surrey Hills means access to lovely walking and cycling country.HaslemereAverage property price: ?650,000A typical terrace sells at ?383,000 and a detached house for just over ?1 million.The commute: Around an hour to Waterloo.This friendly little market town is right on the border of the Surrey Hills and the South Downs, so you get access to two areas of outstanding natural beauty for the price of one.One major hassle to flag up about life in Haslemere is parking at the station for those who anticipate a return to the office post-pandemic. There is currently a three-year waiting period for a permit. Where to buy a home or apartment in EssexSaffron WaldenAverage price:?421,000 You can make friends at the tennis clubs, go to half a dozen gyms, and take long country walks through the beautiful villages of Saffron Walden’s countryside. The journey to London (from Audley End Station), takes less than an hour. Stansted Airport is only 13 miles away. Timber-framed cottages with two- to three-bedrooms are available in the town center for around?350,000 -?500,000. A four- to five-bedroom house built after World War II might be available for?500,000 to?700,000. There is a slight shortage of larger period homes, so prices can be as high as?800,000.
/ Alamy Stock PhotosDedham ValeThe average property price is?508,000. If you are looking for a charming English village, then this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty north of Colchester might be the right place. Dedham also has an Ofsted “outstanding” primary school, as does the village of Lawford.Expect to pay ?800,000 for a chocolate-box, four-bedroom detached cottage in one of these villages.Another popular option for those not quite ready to dive into village life is the petite town of Manningtree, which is set on the estuary of the River Stour and is handy for the Suffolk coast.Leigh-on-SeaAverage price: ?431,000Just inland from the sandy beaches of Southend, arty Leigh-on-Sea has become hugely popular with families keen to leave London for the seaside but who don’t want to compromise on local amenities.Word of mouth seems to have been behind Leigh’s resurgence and most who move down seem to have a ready-made support network.Beyond the beach, Leigh has good transport links. Fenchurch Street is only 48 minutes away. Old Leigh is a charming enclave with weatherboarded cottages and cobbled streets, bars, and restaurants. There is a vibrant arts scene in the town, as well as an art trail and folk festival. Hayling Island in Hampshire is approximately four miles from coast-to-coast. Its beach is a mixture of sand shingle
/ Alamy Stock PhotosThe island townsMersea Island and EssexProperty prices. The average home on the island would be?383,000. It is approximately 10 miles from Colchester to Mersea Island. Although regular bus services are available, they take approximately an hour. If you choose to bus it or drive it, you need to be aware of the tides as the Roman causeway that divides Mersea and the mainland floods at high water. You can reach Liverpool Street from Colchester in under an hour. The island floods at high tide so residents must work around it. Mersea Island has eight miles of coastline and is home to beautiful beaches, great sailing, and some fantastic seafood restaurants. East Mersea is quiet and residential and has some of the most expensive and large houses on the island. West Mersea is four miles away and is more touristy. It is home to a Victorian terrace, a timber-framed cottage and a bland estate house. A three-bedroom semi with three bedrooms is available for a budget of?300,000. It takes just under two hours to get from Queenborough Station to Blackfriars by train. The east side of the island has a different story. It is home to beautiful seaside towns like Leysdown-On-Sea, Minster on Sea and Minster on Sea. There are also many nature reserves and beaches. Schools are a red flag. There are a variety of primary schools in Sheppey, with the majority being rated “good” or “excellent” by Ofsted. There are a variety of primary schools in Sheppey, with most of them being rated “good” by Ofsted. You can reach Waterloo from there in about an hour and a quarter. Its beach is a mixture of sand, shingle. They have a number of useful shops and pubs right on their doorstep. There are also three primary schools in Hayling with “good” Ofsted ratings, as well as a senior school.