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These are London’s cheapest commuter towns now rail fares have increased

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Chatham in Kent is among the cheapest locations within an hour. (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

With rail fares going up by 4.9% this month, long gone are the days of cheap train tickets.

In the four years since the pandemic, London has seen a mass exodus of people moving further out and choosing to commute into the city, a move which has been mostly spearheaded by hybrid workers.

But those who left the capital may have got the short end of the stick, with the cost of commuting to the capital becoming more and more expensive.

Recently, it was revealed that rent in Luton, which has previously been named as one of the cheapest London commuter towns, has risen by more than 30% in the last three years. 

Now, with rail fares increasing, it seems that moving to a commuter town has diminishing returns.

This is particularly true for people who don’t want to commute too far: a new report by Savills found that homeowners commuting from Oxshott in Surrey (around 20 minutes away from London) spend an average of £7,865 per month on train and mortgage costs combined.

Considering the average rent in London is just over £2,000, that feels like a big stretch. 

With rail fares up, new season ticket prices need to be accounted for when choosing where to live (Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Frances McDonald, director of research at Savills said: ‘Commuting and all of its associated costs and logistics are once again at the forefront of buyers’ minds.

‘Total monthly spend on mortgage repayments and season ticket costs decreases with longer journey times from the capital. This means more expensive season tickets are offset by the lower house prices available in locations further from London, even once 2024 rail price increases are taken into account.’

The most expensive London commuter towns

The Savills report, which looked at the cost of the average mortgage repayments and season tickets for every town within a two-hour commute from London, categorised each town by its distance from London.

Oxshott in Surrey was the most expensive out of the closest towns. 

Brockenhurst, New Forest costs more than £5,000 a month despite being two hours away by train. (Picture: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

For those looking to travel under an hour, Virginia Waters in Surrey was the most expensive (£5,500 per month).

A little further afield – under 1.5 hours from London – Micheldever in Hampshire was the most expensive at £3,535 per month.

Meanwhile, Brockenhurst in the New Forest costs commuters an average of £5,072, despite being almost two hours away. 

The cheapest London commuter towns

Thankfully, Savills also analysed the towns with the best value for money, depending on how far you want to commute. 

These were Chatham, Northampton, Dover and Sheerness.

Chatham in Kent is the cheapest commuter town within an hour of London (Picture: Getty Images)

In Chatham, which is the cheapest place to live for commutes under an hour, the average monthly mortgage repayment for a 25% deposit was £1,223 and season tickets cost £504, totalling £1,727 — a far cry from Oxshott’s seven grand. Commuting takes about 40 minutes in total. 

In Northampton, monthly costs total around £1,572 and the journey takes 46 minutes.

Dover commuters are paying about £1,455 with a 66-minute commute, but there’s only one fast train an hour. 

Finally, the commuters living in Isle of Sheppey in Sheerness, which is about 1.5 hours away from London, will pay an average of £1,434 a month, and lead a lovely rural life while they’re at it.



Three ways to save money on train tickets

Book in advance

While booking advance tickets does mean you have to travel at a specific time This Is Money found that booking up to 12 weeks in advance can be 10 times less than booking on the day.

Travel off-peak

A study by Which? revealed that an anytime ticket from London to Swansea is £77.80 more expensive at peak times – and in some cases, you can save over £100 by waiting a mere hour.

Try split ticketing

Split ticketing refers to buying separate tickets for different legs of a single journey, and it’s an easy way to save cash.

You don’t need to swap trains or even seats, but the only rule is that your carriage must stop at the station from which separate tickets have been bought.

An example given by Which? looked at a return from Manchester to London, which cost £375.50 normally or £87.88 for a split ticket if the train stops at Crewe.

Source: Metro.co.uk

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