A notch in the commuter belt

The commuter belt

The commuter belt - Credit: Archant

So, apparently, London is the centre of the financial universe. This isn’t news I suppose – everyone knows that unless you live in London you’re considered by some to be a sort of sub-set outsider. Similarly, everyone also knows that owning property in London is pretty much impossible unless you’re Sir David Attenborough, and even he lives in Richmond.

The race is on: the quicker you can get into St Pancras International the better!

The race is on: the quicker you can get into St Pancras International the better! - Credit: Archant

Exciting (!) new research has unearthed that for every 60 seconds further away from the Capital you live by train, your house price decreases by £3,048. So, given that St Albans City station is just a 20 minute journey to St Pancras International, the residents of our city aren’t faring too badly, according to these calculations.

Savills estate agents looked at property prices around 314 stations on the outskirts of London, considered to be in the commuter belt. While the average house price in inner London is £606,000, commuter locations within half an hour’s train ride from the Capital have an average property price of £458,000. Further out the average price is just £337,000 for those with a journey time between 60 and 69 minutes.

As always, news such as this depends on who you are, what your bank balance is like, whether you are buying or selling, and whether or not you actually care. But due to a decline in home values that are that little bit further away from London, buyers relocating from London to the commuter belt represent 30 per cent of Savills’ sales over the first quarter of 2016 compared to just 23 per cent during the same period in 2015.

Of course this is all very well, but it’s important to factor in to the equation how much money you will need to spend on the commute to a daily job in the city, should you want to actually use the commuter belt.

How long does YOUR train ride take from door to door?

How long does YOUR train ride take from door to door? - Credit: Archant

I’ve done some maths - which is very unlike me...

As a St Albans commuter, travelling every day during peak hours to St Pancras station, you’ll be forking out £4,531 for train travel across one year. This is based on working five days a week for 46 weeks of the year, and doesn’t take into account any discounts or season ticket prices.

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It’s probably unlikely that everyone commuting from St Albans to St Pancras will work in or around the train station. Presuming therefore that you’d need a travelcard for this journey, it will actually set you back £6,141.

Meanwhile, living 20 minutes out of London will cost you £60,960 in your home’s total price.

Should you live in Harpenden however, you are at more of a disadvantage. Travelling into the same Capital train station adds around five extra minutes onto this journey. Depending on the time you leave, it can add up to twenty minutes to it. On average then, you’re looking at a dent of £85,344 in your home’s price. The train journey will then cost you £5,451 or £6,831 without or with a travelcard, respectively.

So, if you choose to live in St Albans and work in London, you’ll spend the amount of money you’ve lost on your home over a twelve year period, in travel costs. In Harpenden, you’ll spend the equivalent amount in about fourteen years.

The alternative would be to move closer to London, meaning you will be paying more on a house sale. As an approximate figure, based on Savills research, you’re looking at an extra £100,000 for buying a home fifteen minutes closer to the city.

So from these calculations, what do I surmise?

It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. It’s swings and roundabouts. It’s much of a muchness. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (that last one doesn’t fit here, I know).

Basically - live where you like. But St Albans and Harpenden are prettier.