The other day I was shopping in Bristol. My legs were aching and I had reached the stage where my brain was saying shop, shop, but my body was saying coffee, coffee. Time for a flat white in my favourite city centre cafe, such a relief to sit down and get that little coffee buzz. It was busy, so I was relieved when a young mother caught my eye and asked if I wanted to sit at her table. A nice gesture that you don’t see that often these days.
Anyway long story short we got chatting and passed a very pleasant 20 minutes sipping our coffee. It turns out she was new to the area, and I was amazed to find out that her husband worked in London and travelled there and back most days. Until then, I had never thought of Bristol as a commuter city, but it turns out that a lot of people are doing it these days.
Low property prices, relatively easy access to good schools and a slower pace of life are all enticing young families away from the south into other parts of the UK. It turns out that thousands of people are waking up to the fact that many UK towns are only a couple of hours away from London by train. A fact that is prompting more people to up sticks and move beyond the suburbs.
As an example, the journey from Bristol Temple Meads to London takes just 2 hours and you are pretty much guaranteed a seat. Much more civilised than getting on a crowded and slow commuter train in the suburbs after a 15-minute walk or half hour crawl through traffic to the station. For many people, overall, the journey all the way from Bristol takes less time than travelling in from the suburbs. It is a bit more expensive, but lower house prices and rates more than cover the difference.
Here are two more unusual London commuter towns and cities that I have uncovered:
Now this one was a big surprise. It turns out that the historic town of Harrogate is one of the latest towns to become popular with London commuters. By road, Harrogate is easily a 4-hour journey, but by train, it is less than 3 hours.
That is still a long commute, but not if you only do it twice a week. Many Harrogate commuters are staying in London for two or three nights using flexi-time and home working to allow them to spend the rest of the week in Harrogate with their family.
An unusual arrangement, but one that works. As a result, estate agents in Harrogate have seen demand from London workers soar in the past few years.
St Albans in Hertfordshire
Now this is less unusual because the town is only 22 miles outside of London, but it caught my eye because nearly 20% of the population work in London. With figures like that, St Albans has to win the most popular London commuter city/town award. This is despite the fact that it is one of the most expensive commuter cities in the whole of the UK. It does not surprise me that high property prices in St Albans are leading to other Hertfordshire towns like Bishops Stortford also developing into London dormitory towns.
Would you commute long distance to work? Do you live in London and think about leaving?
This is a collaborative post.