The Rise and Rise of Commuting

The desire to swap the city for the countryside remains as strong as ever in spite of the economic downturn. Either we become tired of city life, our children reach school age or we decide we want to improve our quality of life. But the recession and the widening gap between prime and secondary markets, posh and less posh, has made a difference.

The central London market has continued to boom, fuelled by international buyers, and British homeowners have increasingly moved into what is now called “outer prime”, which means that areas like Wandsworth and Muswell Hill have also continued to boom. Buyers from these areas have then moved out beyond the M25, thus creating “wealth corridors“ along certain commuter lines and a new category of property which Savills calls “prime regional”.

At the same time people have decided not to push to the outer regions of the commuter belt but rather to stay with faster train journeys, choose vibrant market towns over village locations, and so save on petrol-guzzling school runs. “This has created divisions between inner commuter zones, outer commuter zones and the rest of the UK, creating an urban-rural price gap within the commuter zone” says a report from Savills research department.

Which areas have performed best and which have become the most desirable or “uber” towns? Places like Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, Sevenoaks in Kent, Alresford in Hampshire, Newbury in Berkshire, Saffron Walden in Essex and St Albans in Hertfordshire. The prediction is that, though there is likely to be a lull in house price rises during 2013, as the market picks up in 2014 these are the areas which will feel the flush of money moving in.

When you buy, you want to know how your house will fare in this real life game of Monopoly. Savills’ figures show that the inner commuter zone is likely to rise by 3.5% in 2014, and by 21% by the end of 2017. Meanwhile the outer commuter zone will rise by 3% in 2014 and by 19% by the end of 2017. Move away from the commuter map and price rises are predicted to be less than half that.

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The Commuter Guide website is based on the bestselling Telegraph Guide to Commuterland, by award-winning property journalist Caroline McGhie.

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