Those making the move out of London to the countryside often need to consider the commute from their chosen locale. Read our guide to some of the best stations on each mainline into London.

The ideal location for a London commuter is one with an efficient train service which is far enough out of town to get a seat, but near enough to get back home for evening drinks in some ‘proper’ countryside. Below we’ve asked the experts for their recommendations on the best stations and nearby villages for London commuters.

The best stations for commuters on the West Coast Mainline

Rugby is only 50 minutes from Euston [07.08],’ points out James Way of Knight Frank, who recommends the Warwickshire village of Dunchurch, which boasts the Dun Cow, a former coaching inn, and a fine parish church.

The commute from Northampton on the same line is also less than an hour; villages to the north of the city are well regarded, such as Great and Little Brington and Church and Chapel Brampton.

The commute from Northampton: vital statisics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 46
Fastest train time to London: 57 minutes (07.14)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £492.70

The best stations for commuters on HS1
When the fast service from Canterbury West station opened in December 2009, it reduced the journey time to St Pancras to less than an hour, making this patch of Kent a real alternative to Surrey and Hampshire.

Prime villages include Bridge, Bishopsbourne, Barham, Elham and, on the other side of Canterbury, Wingham, Littlebourne and Wickhambreaux. Aldington is within a relatively easy drive of Ashford (and the Eurostar), with the fastest trains taking 37 minutes to St Pancras.

The commuter from Canterbury: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 44
Fastest train time to London: 55 minutes (07.18)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £476.20

The best stations for commuters on the East Coast Mainline
There are charming villages to the west of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire (51 minutes to King’s Cross (07.21)), says Jonathan Harington of Haringtons. ‘A bit further south on the same line, but served by a different train company, is Huntingdon (49 minutes (07.40)), which is surrounded by good unspoilt villages such as Brampton.’

The Huntingdon commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 39
Fastest train time to London: 49 minutes
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £465.10

Country Life

Flint Cottage (£2.45 million) is in the pretty Chilterns AONB village of Russells Water. It has five bedrooms, a one-bedroom annexe, an artist’s studio and 21⁄2 acres. Henley is six miles away. Knight Frank (01491 844900)

 

The best stations for commuters to live on Crossrail: West of London
Henley-on-Thames has always been a charming place to live, but it hasn’t been the best commute. Two years ago, the former 7.44am to Paddington was named and shamed as the country’s most crowded commuter train, although things were greatly improved by a subsequent increase in capacity of 50%. ‘And the trains before 7am involve a change, which could suck the life out of you by the time you reach Paddington,’ adds Mark Parkinson of Middleton Advisers.

However, the advent of Crossrail in 2018 could change lives in the Thames Valley. Henley commuters will have the choice of a 10-minute train from the town centre or a 10-minute drive to Twyford station, where they can hop onto Crossrail, arriving in the City in 55 minutes or Canary Wharf in 62. ‘This will transform Henley,’ predicts Mr Parkinson.

‘I live there and what I value most is the community feel, yet you can be in London in just over an hour. Our children benefit immensely—all the cultural and educational facilities that one of the world’s great cities has to offer plus the benefits of country life.’

The Henley commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 36
Fastest train time to London: 45 minutes (07.42)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £335.30

The best stations for commuters to live on Crossrail: East of London

Shenfield in Essex will be the easternmost outpost of Crossrail’s north-eastern branch and, according to Jeremy Smallwood of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Chelmsford, it’s making people rethink the big move. ‘We’ve always been considered the poor relation next to the South and West—except for City-based commuters,’ he says. ‘Many people will change trains at Shenfield when it starts whisking people into Liverpool Street in 40 minutes.’

Mr Smallwood says the prettiest village for Shenfield is Fryerning. Further up the line, he recommends using Witham station (avoiding the village itself) for Chelmsford villages such as Great and Little Waltham and Pleshey and Colchester station, both of which offer fast services to Shenfield.

The Chelmsford commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 35
Fastest train time to London: 44 minute (07.06 Witham to Liverpool St)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £485.80

Country Life

Woolwards (£1.65 million) is on the edge of Mountnessing, three miles from Shenfield. It stands in six acres and has five bedrooms, a cottage studio fitted with kitchen and bathroom, a tennis court and a stable yard. Jackson-Stops & Staff (01245 467468

The best stations for commuters on the Brighton Mainline
Haywards Heath—handy for Gatwick—is a major commuter destination on these lines (which come into Victoria and London Bridge— it’s also on the Thameslink route (55mins)), but it’s also one of the hardest places to find a family home in, partly because people stay due to the great sense of community, says Philip Harvey of Property Vision. Lindfield, Ardingly, West Hoathly and Horsted Keynes top his list of villages to consider.

The Haywards Heath commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 36
Fastest train time to London: 45 minutes to London Bridge (07.00); 47 minutes to Victoria (07.03)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £336.40

The best stations for commuters on the Portsmouth Line
Guildford
(37 minutes to Waterloo (07.17)) and Godalming (46 (07.25)) in Surrey both offer exceptionally good access into London, believes Mark Crampton of Middleton Advisors. ‘The country-house market here is very well established, so it’s a known quantity rather than up and coming.’ Sought-after villages include Wonersh, Bramley, Shamley Green, Munstead, Dunsfold and Chiddingfold.

Further south, Haslemere is ‘perennially popular for its well-proportioned family homes, many of which are Edwardian’, comments Mr Harvey. It’s surrounded by glorious wooded countryside, has easy access to the coast and airports and, he says, a number of independent retailers giving it an individual feel.

However, the waiting list for a parking space at the station is notoriously long, so Katherine Watters of The Buying Solution recommends looking at Liphook.

The Haslemere commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 42
Fastest train time to London: 52 minutes (07.02)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £362.20

The best stations for commuters on the South-West Main Line
Basingstoke
, with its huge choice of Waterloo trains (a far better service than that from Newbury to Paddington on First Great Western, which often involves changing at Reading), is a surprisingly sociable place for commuters living in the pretty west Berkshire/north Hampshire villages such as Kingsclere, Ecchinswell and Hannington.

The fastest trains take about 45 minutes, but just moments down the line are the attractive propositions of Overton (fewer trains but free parking) and Whitchurch stations, which serve the Test valley. This is also prime prep school country for Cheam, Elstree and Horris Hill.

However, Bobby Hall of The Buying Solution favours the Candover Valley, a little rural world of its own, comprising five villages (including Preston Candover, Axford and Nutley) and four hamlets between Basingstoke and Winchester.

The Basingstoke commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 35
Fastest train time to London: 44 minutes (07.17)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £391.30

Country Life

Manor Farm (£3.995 million), in Brown Candover, Hampshire, stands in 30 acres. It has 10 bedrooms, a nanny flat, a four-bedroom cottage and a smart swimming-pool complex complete with a treatment area. Basingstoke is 11 miles away. Savills (01962 841842)

The best stations for commuters on The Great Western Line
Kemble
, midway between Cirencester and Tetbury in Gloucestershire, is set to become seriously desirable commuter country when First Great Western upgrades its line. Due to be completed in 2017, the electrification of the track will speed up the services to Paddington (currently about 80 minutes) and passengers heading to the City will then benefit from the interchange with Crossrail. ‘It’s certainly being talked about a lot on my patch and it opens up villages such as Cherington, Minchinhampton and Ewen,’ comments Mr Bramwell.

The Kemble commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 65
Fastest train time to London: 81 minutes (07.19)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £815.70

The best stations for commuters on the Midland mainline
Harpenden
in Hertfordshire is one of the few villages to boast a really good timetable, with 11 trains between 7am and 8am to St Pancras. Mr Harington also recommends villages to the north- west of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire (51 minutes to St Pancras (07.32)), but suggests that access to ‘good country’ is better near Kettering (57 minutes (07.59)) or Market Harborough, Leicestershire (69 minutes (07.33)), ‘where all the villages to the north-east and west are lovely’.

The Harpenden commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 19
Fastest train time to London: 23 minutes (07.31)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £336.40

The best stations for commuters on the Chilterns Line
Uncertainty about HS2 means buyers are avoiding villages east of the M40, but the recent upgrade of the Chiltern Line means the commute into Marylebone has become more civilised. It’s not such a bunfight for a seat and the trains have WiFi, says Mr Bramwell. ‘This has opened up the countryside south and west of Banbury to commuters. North Oxfordshire villages such as Hook Norton, Wigginton, Swerford, Sibford Ferris and the Tews are now on their map.’

In Buckinghamshire, Princes Risborough to Marylebone is 41 minutes (07.44) and there’s a friendly coffee shop on the platform. Closer to town, Amersham has four trains an hour at peak times and pretty countryside around Chalfont St Giles, Latimer and Chenies.

Amersham ticks the boxes, with two highly regarded grammar schools, a range of independent schools, a bustling high street with the prerequisite Waitrose and super pubs and restaurants,’ explains Nick Mead of The Buying Solution.

The brand-new Oxford Parkway station, which is being built near Kidlington (just off the M40 and A44), is due to open next summer, with services direct to Marylebone in just under an hour; this will benefit villages around the River Glyme, such as Woodstock and Charlbury.

Thame, near the M40 in Oxfordshire, which has an attractive market square and a Waitrose, is another honeypot; the fastest train into Marylebone from Haddenham & Thame Parkway takes 39 minutes (07.49), so villages such as Long Crendon, Great and Little Milton are worth a look.

The Banbury commute: vital statistics
Number of novels you can read in a year: 48
Fastest train time to London: 60 minutes (08.03)
Monthly cost of commute (excluding car parking): £507.30

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* This article first appeared in Country Life on September 24 2014