LEIGH-ON-SEA blends a certain eccentricity (of the take-the-tricycle-rather-than-the bus kind) with airs and graces, and is more sought after than its neighbours. The old town in particular is worth going to see, since it retains its historical integrity as a working fishing village. You can watch the boats landing their catches, and the cockle sheds are well stocked. The two- or three-bedroom terraced cottages rarely come on the market and are quickly snapped up when they do, for £230,000 or more.

Birdwatchers are treated to endless sightings of migratory birds that stop off at Two Tree Island, a stretch of saltmarsh that was once a refuse dump. Many of the larger houses have been filleted into flats. Something with one bedroom might sell at £110,000, two bedrooms at £120,000. Unconverted Twenties’ and Thirties’ houses up on the cliffs go for over £250,000 to £400,000. There is pressure on properties within a walk of The Broadway and the station because car parking is impossible.

Good for: charm, bird watching, commutability, good schools at Westcliff and Southend.
Local knowledge: Hadleigh Country Park offers 387 acres of marsh, sea wall and grassland, loved by visiting geese, and woodpeckers and dragonflies in summer.

other stations nearby...

London terminal: Fenchurch St
Journey time: 47 mins
Season ticket: £2608
Peak trains: 8 per hour
Off-peak trains: 4 per hour