Where are the best villages, towns and small cities which are a pleasure to live in, but still offer a decent commute to the capital?
For those who don’t want to live in London, commuting is a necessary evil. Dinner parties in town are set alight on the topic, for which the shorthand is ‘doing the BM’ (the Big Move). ‘These days, when both parents often work, the move to the country is more complicated,’ explains Belinda Aspinall, who set up the website lifeafterlondon.com, on which people can share advice and tips on where and when to move. ‘It’s not easy to juggle school runs with both parents doing long commutes.’
The good news is that it’s perfectly possible to find rural (and cultural) idylls within an hour’s radius of a London terminus. For the purpose of this exercise, we’ve picked out the most attractive and convivial villages, towns and small cities that boast a fast and regular train service to the capital – that is, a choice of more than two trains taking less than an hour between 7am and 8am on weekdays – or amenities that simply can’t be beaten.
We’ve taken on board an assumption that no one wants to drive for much more than 15 minutes from home to the station and have only included places that aren’t just commuter dormitories, but which boast enough of a community spirit to support a village shop. Season-ticket prices are for the journey to the London terminus only and are for standard travel (some routes have high-speed services that attract a higher rate).
The best places to live near London: Surrey
Discover the charm of Haslemere, Farnham, Chobham, Dunsfold, Windlesham, Frensham and Shamley Green.
The best places to live near London: West Sussex
Lindfield and Lurgashall offer a commuter idyll.
The best places to live near London: Kent
We delight in Langton Green, Cranbrook, Aldington, Penshurst, Westerham and Otford.
The best places to live near London: Essex
There is much to enjoy in Great Waltham, Stock, Terling, Earls Colne, Saffron Walden and Clavering.
The best places to live near London: Suffolk
East Bergholt and Nayland boast the best amenities here.
The best places to live near London: Cambridgeshire
Discover the charm of Grantchester, Cambridge and Brampton.
The best places to live near London: Hertfordshire
Much Hadham, Barley, Ashwell, Harpenden and Aldbury offer a commuter idyll.
The best places to live near London: Warwickshire
We adore Dunchurch.
The best places to live in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire
We delight in Amersham, Long Crendon and Haddenham.
The best places to live near London: Oxfordshire
Sutton Courtney, Dorchester-on-Thames, Henley-on-Thames, Sonning, Stratton Audley, Great Milton, Hethe and Blewbury are the dream locations in this county.
The best places to live near London: Berkshire
There is much to enjoy in Bucklebury, Bray, and Yattendon.
The best places to live near London: Hampshire
Overton, Winchester and Kingsclere offer a commutable country lifestyle.