This article is based on 2015 prices. See a version of this article updated for 2016 here.
London's spiralling property prices are so much a part of the capital's daily news that it's a rare day when we don't see an article about how much it costs to live here. As if by some self-fulfilling prophecy, the latest figures from the Land Registry put London house prices at an average of £500,000.
So after our article last week, where we looked at how much it can cost to rent outside London, we're going to find out how much it costs to buy property in the same areas.
Again, we've applied some criteria for ease of comparison, so our search was for the cheapest two-bedroom flat within a mile of the nearest station, exclusive of utility bills or council tax. The monthly cost is a standard repayment mortgage assuming a 10% deposit and interest rate of 4.15% (based on the top UK lenders). We also worked out the average price of the same type of flat for the county based on our cheapest property and the most expensive we could find on Rightmove.
If you want a really cheap mobile home, Essex is the place to go — there are literally dozens of them. For the sake of comparison though, we went for bricks and mortar and found this place in Clacton-on-Sea for £60,000, or £290 per month. It's on the Abellio Greater Anglia line into Liverpool Street and the season ticket is £600 per month. Arguably, you could buy somewhere a lot closer — this place in Grays is £89,950 and would cost £435 per month plus £322 for a season ticket on the c2c line into Fenchurch Street. But that assumes you have the £9,000 deposit and an income to match the increased asking price.
Cost to buy and travel (monthly): £890
Average house price: £705,000
In Kent you can get this two-bed in Margate for £64,950, or £314 per month, which is just under a mile to the station. Southeastern will bring you into Victoria for £556 per month. Looking a bit closer in at Strood, a two-bed will set you back £115,000 (£555 per month and £414 season ticket).
Cost to buy and travel (monthly): £870
Average house price: £532,500
While this flat in Redhill wasn't the cheapest in Surrey, it was preceded in the listings by a number of properties which were either being sold at auction, or stipulated cash buyers only. At £180,000 (£869 per month), it's more than double our cheapy Essex flat and you'd need to stump up £18,000 for the deposit. On the plus side, a season ticket with Southern into Victoria is a snip at £329.
Cost to buy and travel (monthly): £1,198
Average house price: £890,000
To get the cheapest place in Berkshire, we had to head all the way out to Newbury, where we found a two-bed for £134,950 (£652 per month). The only payoff we could find is that trains into Paddington are with First Great Western and can take as little as 40 minutes, though that still costs £509 per month. If you want to live a bit closer and can face Slough, this flat is half a mile from the station and costs £165,000 (£797 per month). It's the last stop before Paddington so it's just £312 per month to travel.
Cost to buy and travel (monthly): £1,161
Average house price: £742,500
There's no enigma about the cheapest place in Bucks — it's this pad in Bletchley at £109,995 (£531 per month). Surprisingly, it's also pretty quick into Euston at 48 minutes, with a monthly season ticket costing £495 on London Midland. Of course, if Bucks is the place you want to be, you could hop on the Metropolitan line at Amersham — as long as you don't mind paying £200,000 (£966 per month) and a peak single fare of £6.90. We think that's cheating though, so here's a place in High Wycombe for £185,000 (£893).
Cost to buy and travel (monthly): £1,026
Average house price: £755,000
The county's cheapest two-bed is this ground floor flat in Royston for £130,000 (£628 per month). It's on the First Capital Connect route into King's Cross, so the season ticket will set you back £553 per month. Royston is just a few stops from Cambridge, so can we get any closer? You could join Londonist's Matt Brown in the future London Borough of Borehamwood and Elstree, where a two bed will cost £290,000 (£1,400 per month). The train is only £225 for a monthly season ticket though.
Cost to buy and travel (monthly): £1,181
Average house price: £690,000
Now you want to know how this compares to renting, right? Our renting figures from the previous article were for a one bed property, so just to keep things consistent, we've searched for two bed rental properties for the comparison.
|Cost to buy and travel||Cost to rent and travel|
Our most expensive county to buy a two-bed flat and commute into London is Surrey, while the most expensive to rent is Essex.
Even allowing for an inner London average salary of £29,970 (£1,955 per month net), paying out more than £1,200 just in mortgage and travel still leaves you with about £750 for all your bills, food and fun. It's marginally better than renting, and at least you can paint the walls a colour other than magnolia, but it's still a high price to pay for working in the capital.