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On the move

On the move: top commuter towns and villages for home buyers to have on their radar this year

For buyers whose 2019 New Year resolutions include moving out of the capital, the sheer number of options within an hour of central London can be dizzying.

Whether you dream of living beside the sea, want better schools, or value picture book looks, this is where you should start your property hunt:

Southend-on-Sea, Essex

1.Best for: budget buys beside the sea – Southend-on-Sea, Essex

This cathedral city has long been a commuter superstar, with services to London taking around 20 minutes.

Add to that brilliant schools, a beautiful and historic city centre with loads of nice pubs, bars and restaurants to explore, as well as a good mix of high-end chains and independent stores and a good market, and St Albans ticks all the boxes for commuters.

2.Best for: super-fast commuting – St Albans, Hertfordshire

This cathedral city has long been a commuter superstar, with services to London taking around 20 minutes.

Add to that brilliant schools, a beautiful and historic city centre with loads of nice pubs, bars and restaurants to explore, as well as a good mix of high-end chains and independent stores and a good market, and St Albans ticks all the boxes for commuters.

Property here isn’t cheap, but in this case you get what you pay for.

3.Best for: family life – Winchester, Hampshire

This is another lovely, historic cathedral city, but its location on the western fringe of the South Downs makes it a more affordable option than St Albans. However, you will spend just over an hour on the train every morning.

Winchester looks gorgeous, its crime rate is low, schools are great and there is plenty of open space – the water meadows are particularly delightful.

4.Best for: brilliant schools – Canterbury, Kent

The grammar schools of Kent have drawn generations of ambitious parents out of London, and Canterbury has a great selection led by Barton Court Grammar School and Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys. Crucially Canterbury’s non-selective secondary schools are also good.

Canterbury has a strong local arts scene, too, with the Marlowe Theatre and the Gulbenkian arts centre, while the Kent Downs are just to the south for country walks.

5.Best for: affordable Surrey – Addlestone

Addlestone is not as chichi as the county’s better-known options but its schools are good, it has plenty of green space in the form of the very pretty Chertsey Meads, while trains to Waterloo take around 50 minutes.

The high street is well-equipped with local shops and chain restaurants. Better yet, Waitrose recently arrived in Addlestone – a sure sign of a town on the up – and there’s a new cinema.

Housing ranges from Victorian to new build, and you could pick up a four-bedroom house for about £550,000. In nearby Weybridge you’d pay £800,000 to £900,000 for a similar property.

6.Best for: vibrant village life​​ – Charing, Kent
If you hanker after a photogenic village, Charing is big enough that you won’t feel too far out in the sticks, but small enough to feel like “proper” country.

Right on the lip of the Kent Downs, the centre of Charing is extremely pretty, with a high street full of timbered and weatherboarded buildings, plus a parade of useful shops. On the outskirts are two country pubs, The Bowl Inn and The Wagon & Horses. Charing Church of England Primary School has a “good” Ofsted report.

On the move
30.04.2019

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