Big Data

Commuting to London: Using Data to Work Out Where’s Best.

Everyone knows that commuting can be a bit of a pain, but with current prices in London averaging around £480,000, it’s a necessity for many. Over the past year around 93,300 people have fled the capital, heading towards the towns and villages surrounding it, but if you’re thinking of joining them, what areas should you be considering? Many “best of” lists highlight one particular area, but obviously not everyone can move there, and it’s certainly not suitable for everyone.

With that in mind, Yopa, the fixed-fee estate agent, has created a commuters’ guide for London. In it, you’ll find an interactive tool that lets you choose your requirements, budget and maximum season ticket cost, and you can find out which town suits you best.

Naturally, we gave it a try.

The first thing we noticed is that Leagrave in Bedfordshire automatically comes out tops, thanks to a shortish commute, plenty of pubs and a low average house price. Reading is next, followed by Luton. Yopa organises these according to its commuter town score, which is presumably based on the various factors that it lists in front of you.

You can quickly see 10 options in a single glance, and each one gives you the commute time, the average house price, how many trains per day there are, crime levels, pubs per capita and the approximate population. It also tells you which station the trains arrive at on the fastest route.

All this information seemed a little overwhelming at first, so we restricted it down. We decided to look for trains heading to London Marylebone only to see where that left us.

Because we had left the time slider on 130 minutes, we got destinations as far away as Solihull. It helpfully informs us that this is 97 minutes away, which is a little far for a reasonable commute. Yopa notes that not every destination is included.

Budget is everything when buying a house, so we looked at average house prices under £350,000. This left us with three options: Solihull, Banbury and Leamington Spa. For some reason, Solihull was considered more desirable than Banbury, even though the average house price was more expensive by nearly £4,000 than Banbury, and the commute time was 37 minutes slower. This might be due to crime levels, or it could be due to the population.

Raising the property budget by £50,000 to £400,000 let us include Aylesbury, Bicester and Kings Sutton. At £396,525, the average house price in Aylesbury might be substantially more, but it had the lowest crime levels and 72 trains per day, which is helpful when you are commuting to the capital.

Maxing out the property budget suddenly brought Amersham into the mix, although if you are spending nearly £730,000, you could argue that you’d be better off in a nice area in London. At 39 minutes, it was a good commute, although Chorleywood is a little closer at 32 minutes. Average house prices in Chorleywood, however, run to £909,472, which is presumably why the tool didn’t rate it higher than Amersham.

Helpfully, if you click on the dots, you can see a range of nearby attractions for each commuting hotspot, and it also gives you the nearest airport. This can be helpful for those who regularly need to travel abroad.

Overall, Yopa’s London commuters’ guide could be very useful for those who need a little help when choosing a property, and it certainly contains plenty of useful information. There is a limitation in that it doesn’t include anywhere within the M25, but hopefully this will be added in the future.

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