The home counties find themselves with the highest rents and property prices outside of London, due to be being situated on the commuter belt, meaning they are in easy commutable distance of London and the higher paid jobs.
Those who live in the Home Counties and are not commuters find their cost of buying, renting and general living pushed up due to their proximity to London. So why are the home counties so popular for commuters and why are Londoners choosing the green countryside of Hertfordshire, Essex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent rather than closer proximity to their jobs in the city?
The long and short answer is generally the cost of living. While the rising prices of the Home Counties seem excessive for those who live and work there, especially compared with the rest of the country, the cost is drastically reduced than it would be if choosing to live in the capital city. The short commute into London pays much higher wages, even when you factor in the time and cost of the commute. The commuter belt provides commuters with the opportunity to work in the city and benefit from the higher wages live out in the ‘countryside’, in small towns and village’s just moments away from lush countryside. It is, effectively, the best of both worlds.
So what does this mean for those who choose to not work in London? The commuter belt statistically comes with a higher cost of living and in this area rents are high and gaining pace rapidly, with the average cost of a small two bedroom flat in east Hertfordshire costing around £900 per month. Property prices are not much better with many feeling they are being priced out of the market, you can see why the Home Counties are so attractive to commuters. They can essentially live in beautiful areas, in either a town or rural setting. They can spend their weekends away from the hustle and bustle, noisiness and pollution of the capital city and raise their families in an idyllic location. Their money buys them a lot more in the Home Counties than it would in London, and instead of a small 1-2 bedroom flat they are able to buy 2-3 bedroom houses. To a commuter it’s a no-brainer as to where they are better off.
London is a wonderful city, and living close by means you can appreciate all the great things about it. The wonderful architecture, the beautiful river Thames, the museums, art galleries, perfect scenery and a wonderfully rich history. You can never be bored in London. You can appreciate everything London has to offer and then at the end of the day you can be home within 40 minutes to your beautiful countryside setting. While you can say it would be irresponsible for people to move to such an area when the cost of living is so high if they are not supported by the higher wages of London, many people done so their entire lives and are being slowly priced out. Wages are statistically lower since the last recession and have not really increased enough to their pre-recession rate. Many have jobs, although often not as well paid as they would be in the city, families, homes and a life in the Home Counties, but are gradually being pushed out and priced out, to make way for the commuters.