Britain’s top 10 performing commuter hotspots

Britain’s top 10 performing commuter hotspots

By Debbie White

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Which towns have seen house prices rise so fast, the rate of growth helps offset commuters’ annual rail fare in about a month? Zoopla explains.

Swanley, near iconic motor racing circuit Brands Hatch, has been identified as Britain’s number one commuter hotspot in terms of house price growth, according to Zoopla. 

The rural town, in Kent, has seen prices increase by £36,484 (nearly 11%) over the past year. And – based on this growth rate – commuters who own a home in Swanley could expect to effectively offset their £2,500 annual London rail fare in 25 days.

Dursley, in the Cotswolds, ranked second, having seen a £26,339 (9.71%) jump in property prices in the last year. This means that homeowners in the market town could pay off their annual commuting costs to nearby Bristol within 32 days.

In third place was another market town, Bromsgrove, just a half-hour train ride from Birmingham. Its 9.61% growth rate year-on-year offsets commuters’ annual rail fare within just 16 days.

Lawrence Hall, Zoopla spokesperson, said: “An easy commute into the office is often very near the top of the property wishlist for those looking to move home, and these figures show just how valuable it can be to live within easy reach of a city centre.”

Towns with good transport links into Birmingham performed particularly well in 2017 due to continued demand in the region, which now offers better value compared to the south of the country, he added.

Above: In Dursley, this four-bedroom detached home is for sale for £385,000

Why is this happening?

Zoopla analysed annual property value growth data (see tables below) in towns within an hour’s commute to Britain’s 10 largest city centres, from 18 December 2016.

It then compared the growth to annual rail card prices, to determine how many days it takes travellers to effectively 'cover the cost' of their commute.

National Rail figures show that train passenger numbers have more than doubled in the last 20 years, to 4.7m journeys a day on average.

On January 2 this year, rail fares rose by an average 3.4%.

Above: On the market for £210,000 is this two-bedroom semi-detached home in Warwick

Who does it affect?

Just two commuter towns close to London featured in Zoopla’s top 10 list – Swanley and Berkhamsted.

The latter had an average property price of £724,194 – after 9.18% growth – as of December last year, which resulted in commuters offsetting their rail fare to the capital in 23 days.

But the Midlands dominated the rankings, with three commuter towns close to Birmingham in the top 10.

Aside from Bromsgrove, Atherstone, a market town in north Warwickshire, experienced price growth of £18,059 (8.26%), resulting in a 40-day commuter payoff, and Warwick saw prices boosted by £28,996 (18.18%), which could cover the cost of train travel in just 19 days.

Zoopla said that commuter towns in West Yorkshire, within easy reach of Leeds, also fared well, after the price growth of homes in picturesque Ilkley rose by 8.52% over the past year (14-day rail fare pay-off).

Homeowners in the old market town of Bingley, where the Five-Rise Lock staircase (below) straddles the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, have seen values spike by 7.91%, providing a 23-day payoff for rail fares.

Bingley's famous Five-Rise Lock, photo courtesy of Shutterstock

RankCommuter townClosest major cityAverage Property Price December 2017 (£)Growth rate year-on-year (%)Time it could take to offset annual travel fare (days)

RankCityBest performing commuter townAverage Property Price December 2017 (£)Growth rate year-on-year (%)Time it could take to offset annual travel fare (days)

Source: Zoopla December 2017

Top 3 takeaways

  • Kent’s Swanley is the best performing commuter town with 10.78% price growth year-on-year
  • Just two of London’s commuter towns feature in Zoopla’s list of top 10 performing hotspots, Swanley and Berkhamsted
  • Birmingham’s commuter belt dominates the rankings, with Bromsgrove, Atherstone and Warwick in the top 10

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Given recent rail fare rises, is it more affordable to commute from a town or live closer to work in a big city? Tell us by posting a comment below...