On the hunt for a new home with a decent commute? Moving from London to Essex buys almost three times the living space for the same money, and it probably won’t take you much longer to get to the office…
Lead image: Oaklands Hamlet by Countryside New Homes in Chigwell
Despite London house prices falling over the last year, the capital remains the most expensive place in the UK to purchase a property, setting buyers back an average of £471,504 (April 2019 – UK Land Registry).
But homebuyers looking to spend this much on a new property could have almost three times more space on average for the same money if they shifted their attentions to Essex – the average price of a square foot in London is about £863, versus just £314 in Essex.
The most expensive location to buy in London – and the UK – is Kensington and Chelsea, where a budget of half a million pounds can just about stretch to a small one-bedroom apartment measuring around 26 m² (277 sq ft).
A new five bedroom home in Chigwell’s Oaklands Hamlet development, for example, is currently on the market for £739,995. For that, you can enjoy 147 m² (1,577 sq ft) of living space spread over two floors, including a garage.
While London’s outer zones used to offer up a bargain, it’s getting harder and harder to find value for money. On average, people moving out of south east London, for example, can expect to have over double the space when they move to areas like Runwell and Chelmsford in Essex.
For roughly the same price as a one-to-two bedroom flat in Bromley, for example, potential home buyers could purchase a three-bedroom house in Beaulieu, Chelmsford, for £479,995 and enjoy 120 m² (1,296 sq ft) of space.
Recent statistics from Rightmove have also revealed that rising rents are making the capital prohibitively expensive, with London families paying on average over £300 more a month than eight years ago. That means around a million private renters are now having to fork out £3,600 a year extra.
But all that extra money spent on property buys you convenience, right? Not necessarily. It takes approximately 30 minutes to travel from Chelmsford station to Liverpool Street station by train, which is around the same time it takes to travel from High Street Kensington to Liverpool Street by tube. So living in London doesn’t guarantee you a faster commute.
‘It takes approximately 30 minutes to travel from Chelmsford station to Liverpool Street station by train, which is around the same time it takes to travel from High Street Kensington to Liverpool Street by tube’
‘Given the significant extra value a property buyer can receive outside the capital, many are choosing to leave central London for a more relaxed life in Essex,’ says Chris Bladon, Managing Director for Countryside New Homes and Communities East, a property developer that specialises in building communities, not just houses.
‘Connections into London are improving constantly, giving people the opportunity to commute into work while also being able to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that the countryside can offer.’
buying a home: London VS Essex
The following tables show the significant financial gap between buying a property in London versus Essex:
|Central London Area||Cost per ft²||Type of property for £0.5m|
|Kensington & Chelsea||£1,807||Studio flat|
|Camden||£1,176||1 bed flat|
|Hammersmith & Fulham||£997||1-2 bed flat|
|Islington||£904||1-2 bed flat|
|Southwark||£816||1-2 bed flat|
|Bexley||£392||1-2 bed flat|
|Bromley||£471||1-2 bed flat|
|Hackney||£795||1-2 bed flat|
|Tower Hamlets||£794||1-2 bed flat|
|Lambeth||£787||1-2 bed flat|
|Lewisham||£585||2 bed flat|
|Wandsworth||£557||1-2 bed flat|
|Greenwich||£505||2 bed flat|
|Districts of Essex||Cost/ ft²||Type of property for £0.5m|
|Chelmsford||£344||3-4 bed house|
|Braintree||£268||3-4 bed house|
|Brentwood||£432||3-4 bed house|
|Harlow||£308||3-4 bed house|
|Epping Forest||£463||3-4 bed house|
|Basildon||£311||3-4 bed house|
|Castle Point||£291||3-4 bed house|
|Rochford||£307||3-4 bed house|
|Maldon||£271||3-4 bed house|
|Uttlesford||£328||3-4 bed house|
|Colchester||£255||3-4 bed house|
|Tendring||£206||3-4 bed house|
|Thurrock||£308||3-4 bed house|
|Southend-on-Sea||£304||3-4 bed house|
Source: Figures from ONS website
Methodology: The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics were taken in square metres and converted to square feet to compile the tables. A weighted average between the two tables was then taken to determine that, on average, buyers in Essex can get up to 2.7 times the space they can get in London.