Where city families are buying now

People are moving out of London for space and lifestyle – not only for lower house prices. The city, as it keeps expanding, is becoming a less desirable place for many families to make a settled home in. Plus, with real estate prices rising, longer commutes, increasing pollution, and the inflating cost of living, families would rather get a home out in the country.

A detached family home with a garden and a custom-made summerhouse (click now to learn more about them), close to a good school, and with an easy commute for parents is the utopia for homebuyers, and many are prepared to pay a premium for the luxury. It is believed that moving out of the city makes this dream all the more affordable, although recent research suggests this might not be true.

Fionnuala Earley, the residential research director at Hamptons International, says: “After rapid house price growth in London, we have become used to assuming that those leaving the capital for a country lifestyle are doing it because they can get more for their money. While that is often true, it’s not always the case. There are lots of places where the average house price is similar to or higher than London. The choice to move then is for the quality of life and amenities, rather than value for money. The choice to move then is for the quality of life and amenities, rather than value for money. A lot of people working remotely prefer to stay back due to the quality of the life in the city. They may set up their home office by purchasing office furniture online or locally. Once the office work is sorted, there might not be any requirements for which the family may need to move out of the city. In fact, they might get more facilities such as quality education for kids, better healthcare options, etc. That said, about 20 percent of those leaving London move to a more expensive area, and that increases to more than 50 per cent in areas such as Walton-on-Thames [in Surrey].

“The average price of a detached house in London is just over 1 million, but a detached property in Oxford costs about 1.4 million, and about one fifth of moves to Oxford are from London,” she says. “Similarly, if searching for more rural living, the average detached home in Poynings on the South Downs fetches 2.6 million. And for those looking for a smaller property there are many places as or more expensive. The average cost of a semi-detached house in London is about 630,000, but in Clifton, Bristol, it’s 865,000, and 15 per cent of moves there are from London.”

We profile the places where it costs more for a detached family home than the London average of 1.027 million.

1 Poynings and Pyecombe
West and East Sussex

Poynings is a hamlet at the foot of the South Downs with a “backdrop of stunning scenery”, according to James Machell, the head of Knight Frank’s office in nearby Horsham. “There are charming chocolate-box cottages, you are walking distance from a village pub and there is a primary school – and you are a ten-minute drive from Brighton. It’s the scenery that does it for people – it is popular with weekenders who love it so much they move down full time.” However, demand far outweighs supply in the hamlet and the neighbouring village of Pyecombe.
Average detached house price 2.644 million
Buyers from London 8 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 21 per cent

This five-bedroom house in Poole, Dorset, is on sale for 1.595 million with Hamptons

2 Canford Cliffs and Sandbanks
near Poole, Dorset

The peninsula of Sandbanks and neighbouring Canford Cliffs, between Poole and Bournemouth, are a draw for downsizers looking for a coastal home that is closer to London than Devon or Cornwall. “We have a number of buyers from the home counties and London whose children have left home and they want to move from a five to six-bedroom house to a three to four-bedroom home here and enjoy the lifestyle,” says Andrew Grice, the manager of Hamptons International in Canford Cliffs. “They are attracted by the good beaches and holiday vibe, but with proximity to Bournemouth where there is an airport and train links to London.”
Average detached house price 1.739 million
Buyers from London 8 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 9 per cent

3 North and west Cambridge
Cambridge’s technology industry and its world-renowned university attract many of those moving to the city. When this is coupled with good schools and easy access to London – with a second train station opening in the spring – it is easy to see why families flock here. However, despite the vast amounts of housebuilding, particularly in the north and northwest of the city, Gavin Human, the director of Fine & Country’s Cambridge office, says there are never enough homes to meet demand.
Average detached house price 1.624 million
Buyers from London 21 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 9 per cent

4 Chigwell

“The main reason people move here is that you get more space for your money than in central London and it is a quick drive, early in the morning, to Canary Wharf. It is also handy for Stansted and City airports, the M11 and M25. You feel as if you are getting out of town, with nice countryside near by,” says Paddy Pritchard-Gordon, the head of Knight Frank’s office in Bishop’s Stortford.

James Lamb, the head of residential for Savills in Loughton, says: “The appeal of Chigwell is the private school and the Tube link to the City, combined with the size of the property, which looks like good value for money.”
Average detached house price 1.581 million
Buyers from London 61 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 8 per cent

5 Chalfont St Giles

The village of Chalfont St Giles is “quintessentially English” with its pretty village green and a duck pond surrounded by period cottages. It is this that appeals to those moving from London and elsewhere, according to Simon Colman, the head of Strutt & Parker’s Chalfont St Giles office. Here, and in the nearby villages of Little Chalfont and Chalfont St Peter, you can live in the country while being only 20 to 30 minutes from the centre of London. “One of the main attractions, other than quality of life, is the standard of schools – we have a grammar school system – plus you get more for your money than you do in London. The houses are generally bigger and have more land.”
Average detached house price 1.399 million
Buyers from London 35 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 4 per cent

This seven-bedroom, six-reception room house in central north Oxford is on the market for 5.9 million through Knight Frank

6 North and west Oxford
“Oxford’s prime area is just north of the city centre, because of access to the Oxford colleges and also to the popular central and north Oxford schools. Families look for good-sized homes with a large garden. Here, the market is most active between 800,000 and 1.85 million,” says Ronnie van der Ploeg, the head of residential sales at Savills’s Oxford Summertown office.

Although Ginny Gilmore, a buying agent for Prime Purchase, adds: “The north Oxford market is going through a paralysis at the moment, especially at the top end. This is predominantly due to stamp duty although everyone is blaming Brexit. The villages with good Oxford/train access continue to carry premiums.”
Average detached house price 1.378 million
Buyers from London 19 per cent
Movement from London over three years Down 5 per cent

7 Virginia Water

If someone stipulates “Virginia Water” when employing a buying agent “they tend to mean the Wentworth Estate and probably the main island on the estate. They want to be able to get into a golf buggy and drive to the [golf] club without crossing a public road,” says Paul Frost, a buying agent with Prime Purchase. “It’s not just about golf, there is a real family feel with the tennis club and gym.” The majority of houses on the estate are modern mansions. Supply isn’t an issue; developers are keen to build luxury properties for international buyers.
Average detached house price 1.372 million
Buyers from London 25 per cent
Movement from London over three years Down 4 per cent

This six-bedroom house in Acot, Berkshire, is on sale for 7.5 million through Strutt & Parker

8 Ascot

“There is a gravitational pull towards money in the Ascot, Virginia Water, Sunningdale area. There are lots of large, nice houses, good transport links and a handful of well-thought-of schools,” says Frost. “Ascot is popular with people who like horses: there is the racecourse and then edge northwest [towards Windsor] and you are in polo country.” In Ascot there are lots of new-builds, although to the north you are more likely to be looking at farms and country homes.
Average detached house price 1.360 million
Buyers from London 24 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 8 per cent

9 Shenley and Radlett

“There are small pockets near Shenley and Radlett that can feel relatively rural although you are close to London. There are nice Georgian family homes, with access to good schools, close to green space,” says Mark Parkinson, a buying agent with Middleton Advisors. While you might not get a lot more square feet for your money, you are likely to get more outside space than in nearby north London. Radlett is on the Thameslink train line into the City (30 minutes).
Average detached house price 1.298 million
Buyers from London 57 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 5 per cent

10 Esher, Cobham, Weybridge, Thames Ditton and
Walton-on Thames


“It is quality of life, schools and value for money,” says Mark Crampton, a buying agent for Middleton Advisors, explaining why people move to the Surrey commuter belt. While the average price for a detached home might be higher than the London average, you get more for your money. A house in Fulham might cost 2,000 a sq ft while one in Cobham might be nearer to 1,000 a sq ft. “It tends to be families and they are looking for places with a community, good schools and decent housing stock.”
Average detached house price 1.298 million
Buyers from London 55 per cent
Movement from London over three years Down 6 per cent

11 Tadworth and Burgh Heath

Tadworth and neighbouring Burgh Heath, to the east of Cobham, between Epsom Downs race course and the Surrey Hills, attract a similar cohort to those who head to Esher and Walton-on-Thames, according to Crampton. They are attracted by easy access to transport links such as the M25, and trains into London with good schools and an area of outstanding natural beauty within easy reach.
Average detached house price 1.130 million
Buyers from London 44 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 6 per cent

12 Guildford

There is a steady stream of people who move from southwest London to Guildford, which has a direct trainline into London Waterloo and good road connections via the A3. “It is the first of the big towns beyond the M25, as you come out of southwest London. It is surrounded by green-belt countryside, has a pretty cobbled high street and all the shops you might want. Plus it has cracking schools. Many of our buyers are in their mid-30s and are either planning to have children or have young children,” says Simon Jordan, the area sales director at Hamptons International in Guildford. A key issue, though, is once they have settled in the perfect family home few want to move, with about half of Jordan’s sellers having stayed put for 20 or more years.
Average detached house price 1.083 million
Buyers from London 20 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 7 per cent

13 Batchworth Heath near Rickmansworth

Southeast of Rickmansworth, Batchworth Heath is close to several golf courses, including Moor Park. The main attraction, according to Parkinson, is the private estates with large Edwardian family homes, many of which are “refurbished and well kept”. The area is convenient for commuting (less than half an hour to London Marylebone station via the Chiltern Line or on the Underground Metropolitan Line), while also being close to the Chiltern countryside and Colne Valley Regional Park.
Average detached house price 1.061 million
Buyers from London 46 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 17 per cent

14 Beaconsfield and Forty Green

“People are drawn by the schooling. Many of our buyers are young families moving from London, and they want access to the grammar school system, although we have highly rated state and private schools. The school is the initial driver, but then it’s not a hard sell when they see how easy the commute is – a 25-minute train journey to Marylebone,” says Ian Allen, the associate director at Hamptons International in Beaconsfield. Perhaps not surprisingly, though, families tend to stay for 10-15 years which means demand outweighs the supply of property on the market. “People tend to extend, improve and stay put,” Allen explains.
Average detached house price 1.039 million
Buyers from London 36 per cent
Movement from London over three years Up 10 per cent