Comment: St Albans Vs Waltham Cross - which would you choose?

Romeland Hill, St Albans: Can Waltham Cross compete?

Romeland Hill, St Albans: Can Waltham Cross compete? - Credit: Archant

With its fine schools, fabulous countryside and fast rail links into London, Hertfordshire has a long-held rep as a suburban idyll.

But could it be that Herts is losing its touch as a commuter hotspot? TotallyMoney think so, labelling Purfleet in Essex of all places as London’s best commuter town.

Herts put up a strong fight, with six towns featuring in the top 25 – more than any other county – but the top spot remained out of reach.

We’re used to the likes of St Albans and Harpenden regularly topping these sorts of polls – last year Harpenden was named as Jones Lang LaSalle’s best commuter area not served by the Southern rail network, while St Albans came fifth. This time they languished in 87th and 81st place, well below the more low-key likes of Hatfield (17) and Stevenage (56).

This particular list has been compiled using criteria of journey time, season ticket cost, life satisfaction and house prices. And there’s the rub.

Average house prices in Purfleet are £210,820, while in Waltham Cross and Cheshunt - the Herts towns in second and third place – they’re between £370,000 and £375,000, way cheaper than St Albans or Harpenden (£554,774 and £768,214).

Some would argue that there’s a good reason for this – in a recent Guardian article, a local said “The only good thing about Waltham Cross is Fishpools furniture shop: a rose among thorns in a centre full of cheap and tacky clothes and charity shops.”

Natives of St Albans and Harpenden may complain about the excessive amount of coffee shops and estate agencies, but neither place could be described as cheap or tacky – God forbid!

And if budget allows, Londoners seeking marginally more space and first class schools are unlikely to stop following the crowds fleeing West Hampstead and Islington for a new life in these parts of Herts, even if TotallyMoney thinks Purfleet is right up their street.