Just an hour from London there is some paradises to a weekend gateway or if you are available to travel every day to work. An hour from London ensures a real rest in the end of the day. A bigger/better paradise that you can buy by the same price that a flat in central London.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
St Albans has everything. A street market, good shopping, excellent period and new homes and high-achieving schools. There are also plenty of parks and quick getaways to the north and west by road or rail. There are only 65,000 residents, so it still feels community-minded and manageable. New-builds are scarce but try Taylor Wimpey’s Highfields houses, up to four bedrooms, from £710,000. Central London in 21 minutes.
This charming market town is 30 miles north-west of the capital at the foot of the Chilterns. The surrounding countryside is dotted with canals and reservoirs. There is a beautiful old windmill and a new five-property scheme from Kebbell Country Homes. A three-bed house costs £314,950. 42 minutes to London.
East Grinstead, West Sussex
London is just at 58 minutes. The town’s 25,000 inhabitants enjoy a pretty environment with a high street full of 14th-century facades. Ashdown Forest is nearby, too. Linden Homes’ Poets Place scheme has 14 homes, with two to four bedrooms, up to £599,995 in a cul-de-sac two miles from the mainline station.
This is classic commuter country with an Eighties centre and housing estates galore. It is just 30 miles from London and between the M3 and M4 for fast getaways to the South West. David Wilson Homes’ new executive home scheme is Fairways, where five-bed homes cost from £995,000, up to £1.1m for a house by a golf course. London in one hour 15 minutes.
The suburb of Upton, close to the M1 (London in 58 minutes), is being used as a test bed for more than 1,300 new-build sustainable homes. Many have unusual designs and are packed with energy-efficient features. A new David Wilson scheme, for example, has stacked designs and plenty of glass with open-plan interiors. Two bedrooms to four bedrooms, £257,995 to £699,995.
On the Hampshire borders, this bustling town has 38,000 residents, plenty of green space and is rich in Georgian architecture. New homes are on the outskirts and are large. The dramatic Whitebeams is 2.5 miles from Farnham station. The development has six bedrooms and is in 1.5 acres with tennis court and pool, £2.99m. London in 53 minutes.
There are only 9,000 locals, plenty of period properties and bags of community spirit. You may have missed the May Day Fayre, but you can move in time for October’s Apple Day or the next amdram play. Barratt Homes has 40 three and four-bedroom homes, of local style, in Saffron Gardens from £299,950 to £390,000.
The town is 40 miles from London (London in 56 minutes) and is classic commuter territory with many developments in surrounding villages such as Bocking. This pretty village has a local pub and 15th-century church. Barratt has a scheme of flats and houses, up to three bedrooms, from £139,995 to £289,995.
What’s not to like about Canterbury? London is only at 56 minutes. Tthe cathedral might be its best-known landmark, but the castle, narrow streets and the River Stour add to Canterbury’s tranquil feel. Berkeley’s Kingsbrook Park scheme has one to four-bedroom homes built in 11 acres of parkland with an attractive crescent. Prices range from £169,950 to £550,000.
The capital of Essex is thriving – over 100,000 people live here – and its centre was extensively redeveloped pre-recession. Yet there are plenty of old world villages on the outskirts. Clarion Gate is a new Crest Nicholson 153-home scheme ranging from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses built around a village green. It is less than two miles from the station, 40 minutes from London. House prices are £225,000 to £435,000.