Is it too expensive to commute?

4 October 2011

traintrackPublic transport is rubbish. The only thing standing against the requirements to wait around in the wind/cold/wet and then sit snuggled up with sweaty/smelly/bulbous strangers is the fact that is saves you money. Except it doesn’t even do that anymore.

Everyone knows that the absolutely most expensive place to live is in London, which is why everywhere with an hour’s train journey of the capital is full of commuters looking to save a bob or two. However, with the planned 8 per cent increase in train fares in 2012, new figures from estate agents County Homesearch, suggest the cheaper option actually isn’t cheaper anymore.

Despite  higher house prices in London, the agency has calculated that the combined cost of rail season tickets and mortgage repayments in commuter towns will next year be on a par with that in some areas of London.

Take the popular commuter town of Swindon, where the combined monthly cost of mortgage repayments on a semi-detached house and rail tickets for two people will be £2,370 in 2012,  compared with £2,400 for a couple living in the west London district of Hounslow and £2,432 for a couple living in Ealing.

Similarly, the combined cost of monthly mortgage repayments and rail tickets for two people living in Brighton in 2012 will be £2,281. This compares with £2,098 for a couple living in Elephant & Castle in south London.

But even if you go as cheap as David Dickinson and move to Peterborough, which has some of the cheapest house prices within an hour of London, two people who work in London but live in Peterborough will spend an average of 40 per cent of their income before tax on their commute and mortgage repayments, the estate agency said.

Jonathan Haward, a director at County Homesearch, said: “Our findings threaten to deny towns and villages in counties surrounding London the regular influx of new young professionals needed to maintain local services.”

He went on to say that people on high salaries are unlikely to be dissuaded from the benefits of moving to a large house in the country. However, for many people, a spacious living environment is an “increasingly unattainable luxury”.

Perhaps County Homesearch have a lot of smaller properties to sell in Ealing, Hounslow and Elephant and Castle. Perhaps train fares really are taking the Michael. It’s probably both.

TOPICS:   Travel


  • PokeHerPete
    Sam, did you just copy this from the Metro you read the other day?
  • Matt
    If you're sick of the cost of living down south there is a solution... move North!! Places like Manchester and Liverpool have stacks of jobs about and you can live a walk from work, sleep in and house prices are cheap as chips so much so I'm going to be buying my 2nd house soon. Who needs London!!
  • The B.
    Eh? Comparing Elephant to Brighton? Okay Swindon to Hounslow isn't too far fetched as they're both dumps, but Brighton to Elephant? Really?
  • TimB
    What Matt Said. I drag my arse out of my pit 45 minutes before work, shower, dress, and walk/cycle to work with enough time to get a brew on before I sit at my desk. My combined monthly mortgage/transport costs? £390. Yes, I could earn double if I moved Dahn Saaarrf, but I'd almost certainly still be worse off.
  • RTB
    "the regular influx of new young professionals needed to maintain local services.” We all know that the two parts of this sentence don't hang together. Wealthy young couple move to small village. Wealthy young couple don't use village shop. Wealthy young couple drive for half an hour to nearest supermarket once a week or load up at Tesco Metro on their way home from work. Wealthy young couple don't use village post office. Wealthy young couple use large post office near work in their lunch break. Wealthy young couple don't send their kids to state-funded village school. Wealthy young couple send their kids to boarding school or private school miles away. Wealthy young couple don't attend village church. Wealthy young couple are too busy sleeping on Sunday mornings to get involved in community life. Wealthy young couple merely live in village and push up house prices. Leading to death of village.
  • Steve
    Not an issue here in the Midlands as our local county council has canceled half the buses so you can't commute by public transport even if you'd like to (not sure on the use of like and public transport in the same sentance.)
  • Brad
    Months ago even with the cost of petrol, its cheaper to drive into London for me then get a train in, admittedly I haven't factored insurance/MOT etc into it but the other side is if I want to go out at 3 in the morning at a weekend I can and not have to run the risk of nutters or kids playing shit 'grime' music on their phone sitting next to me.
  • Dick
    What about houses in Basildon, next to Dale Farm. I reckon you could get some cheap houses near there.
  • Ian
    I just want to be allowed to claim back tax on train fare like self employed scum do.
  • Martin
    Try getting a job closer to where you live. Noone is making you commute, you made that choice.
  • TimB
    @Ian - you realise train fares are zero rated for VAT, right? Therefore, no one can claim back tax on them, because it isn't paid in the first place.
  • Gav
    Self employed scum? You mean the people who have the balls & IQ to set up their own business instead of being a brain dead underachieving salary rat like you?
  • andy y.
    love is in the air.....

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