Good trains from Essex into Liverpool Street mean the county has five spots on the Country Life list of the best villages and towns close to London.

Earls Colne

Commute: Marks Tey (London Liverpool Street, 54 minutes). Drive to station: about 17 minutes. Frequency of trains: 4 per hour (peak). First train in: 4.49am; last train home: 12.18pm. Annual season ticket: £4,532. Annual car-park ticket: £1074.70.

The Country Life verdict: One of the largest villages in the Colne Valley, Earls Colne is a good option if you want to be on the Essex/Suffolk borders. ‘It’s an area that bankers and solicitors tend to head to if they’re based in the City,’ explains Jeremy Smallman of Jackson-Stops & Staff.

Best address: Colne Priory, a former Benedictine monastery, is very attractive.

Alternatives: Any of the Colne Valley villages.


Stock

Commute: Billericay (London Liverpool Street, 32 minutes). Drive to station: about 8 minutes. Frequency of trains: 7 per hour (peak). First train in: 4.28am; last train home: 12.50am. Annual season ticket £3,308. Annual car-park ticket: £1257.68

The Country Life verdict: This is serious stockbroker territory. It has a wealth of shops, including a wine shop, and an Italian restaurant. It looks idyllic, with narrow streets, but is very expensive.

Best address: The Old Rectory gets Mark Davies of Strutt & Parker in Chelmsford’s vote.

Alternatives: Fryerning, Margaretting


Terling

Church on the green Terling, Essex

Church on the green Terling, Essex

Commute: Hatfield Peverel (London Liverpool Street, 44 minutes). Drive to station: about 15 minutes. Frequency of trains: 3 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.04am; last train home: 12.18am. Annual season ticket £4,056. Annual car-park ticket: £1108.80.

Tip: Although the Hatfield Peverel service is a slower train than the one from Chelmsford, parking and finding a seat are easier.

The Country Life verdict: A seriously well-kept village, which benefits from being supported by Lord Rayleigh-there’s a shop and post office, cricket ground, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a busy village hall. ‘It’s gorgeous and seemingly lost in time. You half expect to spot a bobby on a bicycle,’ says Jeremy Smallman of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Chelmsford.

Best address: In an ideal world, Terling Place, Lord Rayleigh’s seat.

Alternatives: Hatfield Peverel (avoid the bit of the village that’s dissected by the A12) or Wickham Bishops. For a market town, try Maldon.


Great Waltham

Commute: Chelmsford (London Liverpool Street, 35 minutes). Drive to station: about 12 minutes. Frequency of trains: 10 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.11am; last train home: 12.46am. Annual season ticket: £3,764. Annual car-park ticket: £1269.50.

The Country Life verdict: Easy access to City and Stansted airports. There are a couple of pubs and a shop-Walthumbury Stores (and post office) – which sells local produce. The village hall also has a lively timetable of activities.

Best address: Grade I-listed Langleys is ‘an early-18th-century, red-brick monster of a house’, according to Jeremy Smallman of Jackson Stops & Staff.

Alternatives: Little Waltham, Felsted.

best places to live for commuters essex

Signs by the side of the road outside The Beehive Public House, Great Waltham, Essex.


Saffron Walden

Commute: Audley End (London Liverpool Street, 51 minutes). Drive to station: about 9 minutes. Frequency of trains: 12 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.03am; last train home: 11.28pm. Annual season ticket: £4,300. Annual car-park ticket: £1275.80.

The Country Life verdict: A handsome market town with lots of specialist shops and medieval streets.

Best address Jane Mynott of Bidwells names the Elmdon Bury estate.

Alternative Finchingfield.


Clavering

Commute: Audley End (London Liverpool Street, 51 minutes). Drive to station: about 7 minutes. Frequency of trains: 12 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.03am; last train home: 11.28pm. Annual season ticket: £4,300. Annual car-park ticket: £1275.80.

The Country Life verdict: A well-located village (it’s a short hop to Bishop Stortford and Saffron Walden for more activity) that has a lively community, including the cricket club, which plays on the picture-postcard green fronting a pavilion that boasts seating from Lord’s cricket ground.

Best address: ‘The Old Vicarage,’ says Paddy Pritchard-Gordon of Knight Frank.

Alternatives: Wicken Bonhunt, Arkesden Debden and Widdington.

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