The rush to leave London has been a staple of property columns over the last twelve months. Built up, densely-populated urban areas were portrayed negatively in favour of remote locations, but as normal life begins to resume does that characterisation still hold?
London is already back on the agenda for many professionals and will remain central to culture, creativity and commerce, especially when restaurants, bars, theatres, museums, music venues and galleries re-open. And yet the urge for green space is not going to disappear overnight. The pandemic may well have changed our relationship with the city permanently. The solution for many buyers seems to be locations that are far enough out to offer green space and a garden whilst remaining close enough to enable a quick city fix once London bounces back.
Thankfully there are a number of Home County villages for those torn between city living and rural outreaches – settings where mainline train stations are juxtapositioned with farmlands and fields. Here are some villages where you can live the countryside life and still easily commute to London.
This Kentish location features all the key ingredients of village life, including a primary school, village hall, annual fête, three churches and a pub, with the addition of a mainline station. A bonus is Staplehurst’s properties falling within the coveted Cranbrook Grammar catchment. London Bridge is less than an hour’s commute from the village train station. The average asking price for a property here is c. £432k
This village includes the hamlets of Southington, Northington, Ashe, Polhampton, and Quidhampton. Overton is home to two resident peacocks and enjoys the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery on its parish border. From Overton train station you’re in London Waterloo in less than an hour – around 58 minutes platform to platform. Average asking price: £417k
If the only way is Essex but you prefer your location more bucolic than bling, the village of Ingatestone might hit the spot. The tone is set by Ingatestone Hall - one of the finest Tudor mansions in the UK – while the High Street has bags of quaint character. Ingatestone station to Liverpool Street is a mere 31 minute journey. Average asking price: £617k.
Robertsbridge, East Sussex
This Medieval village is close to Bodiam Castle, the River Rother and the South coast, providing real solace from city living. Those needing London can be in the capital in just over an hour, with stops at London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross. Average asking price: £385k.
Picture postcard perfect, Gomshall’s charms belie its commuter connections. With the River Tillingbourne running through the village and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status, it’s hard to believe trains pull in to London Waterloo in as little as 57 minutes. Average asking price: £629k.
Set in the Broxbourne Woods, Bayford is probably as rural as you can get without feeling cut off. Expect to find a primary school, village pond, pub, cricket green and Georgian properties – all cheek-by-jowl with the train station. Hop on board and both Moorgate and London King’s Cross are less than 48 minutes away. As one of Hertford's most expensive villages, the average property price is an eye-watering £958,111k. Surrounding villages such as Little Berkhamsted, Essendon and Wormley West End come with a marginally lower price tag.
Located on the east bank of the River Thames and close to Royal Windsor, Wraysbury is the perfect antidote to urban life. The village is dotted with Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the annual fete on the cricket green brings the community together. London Waterloo is the final destination from Wraysbury station, with a journey time of 47 minutes. Average asking price: £621k.
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
This affluent village sits in the Misbourne Valley – part of the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Georgian properties and half-timbered buildings give the High Street a heritage feel, while the Roald Dahl museum celebrates the village’s most famous past resident. Trains from Great Missenden station arrive in Marylebone in as little as 46 minutes. Average asking price: £673k