Commuter Towns Near London
The UK capital of London has long been one of the world’s most booming metropolitan cities. A global financial hub and home to nearly nine million people, it is no surprise that London has become a hive for professionals.
This growth in population and popularity has brought about stiff competition for housing and employment. In addition. London neighborhoods tend to be expensive and you’d often have to settle for small apartments that don’t meet your requirements. To balance this out, commuter towns near London have been popping up around the UK, allowing people to live close to the capital while still maintaining an affordable life.
So, what are the best commuter towns near London, and what do they all have to offer? We’ve siphoned out some of the most sought-after commuter towns out there, shining a light on their best qualities, from their proximity to London and cost of living to their unique characteristics and local attractions.
Read on to find out what the ten best commuter towns near London have to offer and find your new home away from the hustle and bustle of the modern capital.
Located around forty miles directly west of London, the town of Reading has been a popular commuter town for decades. Its proximity means that you are able to take the train into the capital within 25 minutes or within an hour and a half drive. Trains currently arrive from Reading to London’s Paddington Station. However, the opening of the Elizabeth line in 2023 will make the journey far more streamlined, connecting you directly to Bond Street, Canary Wharf, and Stratford – perfect for those who are working within the heart of the city.
The balance of small-town feel and energy makes Reading a great place to live while still being close to the UK capital. Famed for its annual music festival and bustling town center, Reading retains its own identity and reputation for leisure and nightlife. The town of Reading is well known for its textured history and being one of Berkshire’s largest towns. Although it’s ideally placed for commuting into London, there is a large infrastructure here that means you are not forced to travel outside of the town during your days off, creating a great balance between work and home life.
This infrastructure is bolstered by Reading’s huge commercial center, especially for information technology and insurance. The famous shopping center, The Oracle, serves as one of the most popular shopping districts in the entire Thames Valley area and can provide you with everything you need while living in the town. One of the only noted downsides to choosing Reading as your commuter town is the high price of rail season tickets. The combination of long-standing ties to London, especially in its commuter routes, the town’s strong infrastructure, and resources all make Reading one of the best commuter towns near London.
2- St Albans
Lying directly north of the capital, out of the hustle and bustle of Greater London, is the small city of St Albans. St Albans tops many people’s lists when it comes to the best commuter towns near London, and it is easy to see why.
St Albans is a twenty-minute train journey from London’s St Pancras Station and is perfectly placed to commute to the city center on a daily basis. It is not only the fantastic transport links to the capital that makes St Albans a highly popular place to commute to the city; it is the small city itself.
Regardless of its commuter town reputation, many would hail the city as a great place to live for its own merits. St Albans is one of England’s most historic settlements, dating back to the 1st century when it was only second to the city of London. This textured past has given St Albans a rich identity and can be seen as one of England’s most quintessential towns. The popularity of St Albans, increased by commuters and settlers, means that competition is fierce for homes, often driving up property prices.
The bustling hub of St Albans is home to a large independent scene, which includes independent book shops, cafes, and celebrated cinemas. Sitting so far out of Greater London while still being within a short train journey means that living in St Albans gives the feel of living within the counties of England and not in an overwhelming urban environment. The charming streets, historical spots, and affluent homes all make St Albans one of the best commuter towns near London, and no list of commuter towns would be complete without a mention of St Albans.
Only 17 miles west of central London, Staines-upon-Thames is a town that often gets overlooked when it comes to the best commuter towns near London. As its name suggests, this market town lies along the northern banks of the River Thames and has grown from a small town to a hub for commuters and residents as the expansion of London has grown.
With the modernization of Greater London and the expansion of the nearby national Heathrow Airport, Staines-upon-Thames has become an outpost of modernity and an up-and-coming modern town. This growth can be seen in the numerous companies that have made Staines-upon-Thames their corporate home, including Bupa, Siemens Building Automation Division, and British Gas.
Staines-upon-Thames is only a half-hour commute by train into London, arriving at the capital’s Waterloo Station. Although Staines-upon-Thames is close to London, the busy Heathrow Airport, and M25 Motorway, it still retains its small-town feel. Staines-upon-Thames is perfectly balanced between a growing town, connected to the infrastructure of modern London and south England, while at the same time, there is an expansion of greenery and untouchedness that comes with Staines-upon-Thames.
These notable green spaces include Staines Park, which is home to tennis courts, a bowling green, and a children’s playground, offering an ideal place to escape the busy town center. Aside from this, Staines-upon-Thames is also home to Staines Moor, over a thousand acres of moorland that is a fantastic place to hike and nature watching. Having the streamlined connection to the center of London with the international airport of Heathrow on your doorstep, while also having such idyllic places such as Staines Moor close by, all make Staines-upon-Thames one of the best commuter towns near London.
Situated just over thirty miles southwest of the British capital, the town of Guildford is another of the best commuter towns near London. Excellent transport links into the city mean that you can make the journey from Guildford to London in around half an hour, perfect for the speedy early morning commute to work. Guildford is one of the commuter towns near London with a long-standing reputation for housing many who work in the city, increasing its popularity.
Alongside its transportation convenience, Guildford is more or less halfway between London and Portsmouth on the English south coast, making it a great place for recreation as well as for work. Guildford, as a town in itself, is a pleasant place to live; with cobble-stoned streets, historic medieval architecture, and a castle to boot, Guildford has all the charms of a small English town.
Families looking for somewhere to settle and commute with younger children will be delighted with the high reputation Guildford has when it comes to its schools. Schools within Guildford often appear in the Sunday Times Best Schools List, making it an ideal place to settle for families with children of school-going age.
What stands out as Guildford’s most favorable aspect is the surrounding countryside and villages. With vast swathes of green spaces, farmland, and countryside, Guildford stands alone as a satellite of London while keeping the rural feel of its surrounding suburbs. For those who wish to live outside of the town itself, Guildford has a number of outline villages that provide a far more secluded lifestyle – ideal for truly escaping the day-to-day hustle of inner city London. work life.
Often seen as the quintessential commuter town near London, the small market town of Watford has dodged all the negative connotations of being so close to the Greater London area while retaining many of the independent benefits.
Located around twenty miles north of London, it takes a zipping 14 minutes to get into the capital, arriving at Euston Station. Not only is it possible to take the train straight into London, but Watford is connected to the city by both the underground and overground transport networks. This unique arrangement means that Watford has the blessing of being far enough removed from London while being seamlessly connected to its major transport networks.
Other notable aspects that make Watford one of the best commuter towns near London is the fact it is a stand-alone town with its own unique indenture and attributes. Although seen as a more urban place to commute to London from, Watford is not without its own culture. Home to three iconic theatres, Watford Palace Theatre, Watford Colosseum, and The Pump House. Each year, the theatre plays host to a free outdoor festival featuring theatre, music, art, and dance performances, known as Imagine Watford.
As shopping opportunities go, Watford is the proud owner of the Atria Centre, a huge shopping mall that has everything you could need under one roof. Watford’s nightlife has been famed for decades, so much so that it often attracts revelers from the capital for an evening’s entertainment. The famous Pryzm nightclub is one of the locals’ favorites, offering five rooms of varying music and atmospheres.
Despite all the trappings of urban life, the town of Watford also has its fair share of green spaces. Taking the top spot of green spaces in Watford is its Cassiobury Park. Twice the size of London’s Hyde Park, Cassiobury Park is a popular spot with dog walkers, runners,s and summer days sun-seekers.
The historic Berkshire market town of Windsor is a favorite commuter town for those who look for a little more luxury when it comes to home life. With an average house price of half a million, Windsor isn’t the easiest place to secure a home, but it does come with the elegance and opulence of one of England’s most popular postcodes. The historic town of Windsor is arguably most famous for being the home of Windsor Castle, a royal residency for nearly a thousand years.
Despite the royal connections and eye-watering property prices, Windsor has an air of charm and Englishness that makes it a hugely popular place to live. Taking just over fifty minutes to arrive at either London’s Paddington or Waterloo station, it is easy to see why Windsor is at the top of many people’s commuter town list. Again, with an average season pass of £2,904, the cost of making this daily commute isn’t something that can be taken likely.
Aside from its historic and luxurious charm, Windsor is a town surrounded by some of the best open green spaces and parkland in the entire county – a true antidote to the concrete jungle of the London you will be commuting to. Just to the south of the town is one of the most famous green spaces in all of England, Windsor Great Park. This five-thousand-acre royal park is home to great expanses of green spaces, ponds, and its own population of deer. Although a royal park, Windsor Great Park is open to the public free of charge, from dawn until dusk. This perfect combination of luxury, vast open spaces, and a direct link to the history of England all make Windsor a highly popular place to live and one of the best commuter towns near London.
As the vastness of London’s expansion seems to grow in size, affordable and promising commuter towns seem to get further and further out from the capital, and Stevenage is one such place. Although Stevenage stands over thirty miles north of London, it is possible to catch the fastest train and arrive in the capital in 27 minutes. This speedy commute, combined with the far more affordable house prices, has often seen Stevenage praised as one of the best commuter towns near London.
The variation in properties and neighborhoods mean that Stevenage is somewhere that attracts commuters with many different incomes. Vast new estates are now zoned west of the A1 and in the northeast of town, providing affordable housing to residents of Stevenage. The distance from the capital means you are able to escape that London-centric nature that often comes with towns closer to the Big Smoke.
Stevenage as a town has all the amenities and resources you would expect from a modern town. For all your shopping needs, Stevenage is home to a huge shopping center with the privilege of being extremely traffic free. With many of Stevenage’s modern neighborhoods and commercial districts having been designed on the Radburn principle, this traffic-free environment can be found all over the town.
A combination of expertly run transport connections to London and a lack of the traditional commuter town feel, as can be found in many other locations, makes Stevenage an ideal location for commuting to the capital. Although the future may be uncertain as more commuters seek new towns to settle, Stevenage remains a fantastic choice.
A new arrival on the long-established list of commuter towns, the Essex city of Chelmsford may surprise many for being included among the best commuter towns near London. Located over forty miles away from London, excellent transport links mean that you can catch a train from the Essex city of Chelmsford and be in the capital in under 40 minutes. This swift journey only adds to the appeal of a town that was once considered too far away to be a commuter town. Although not traditionally seen as a commuter town, the past few years have seen a huge boom in London employees settling in the city.
The charming city of Chelmsford only has a population of 110,00 and has an extremely low crime rate a fact that gives the city an idyllic feel, ideal for leaving the traffic and rush of inner city London. The only city in the county of Essex, Chelmsford, has a strong identity and proud history that allows it to stand out of the shadow of the nearby European capital.
The rich culture of Chelmsford is bolstered by a number of local attractions. These include the Chelmsford Museum and the home of Essex’s first-class county cricket side. For those who enjoy nature and the great outdoors, Chelmsford is home to Hylands Park and a local favorite, Hyde Hall. Hyde Hall is a great expanse of floral displays and flower gardens, all of which add to the charm and idyllic nature of this Essex city.
As the years go by, Chelmsford is only set to grow as a commuter town. The combination of fantastic rail links, county charm, and affordable housing will make the city a far more popular alternative to the towns closer to Greater London.
Rated as one of England’s top three growing towns, the largest town in Hampshire, Basingstoke is undoubtedly seen as one of the best commuter towns near London. Located to the far west of London, just under fifty miles, Basingstoke may surprise many with its commuter town label. Taking around forty-five minutes to arrive in the capital, Basingstoke commuters may have a longer journey to and from work than most commuter towns, but it is a welcoming trade-off for the quality of life this Hampshire town provides.
Named Thames Valley Town of the Year in 2017 and boasting a quality of life rating of 96%, Basingstoke’s popularity is undeniably on the rise. Its isolation, close to the rolling farmlands of the North Wessex Downs, means that the town is surrounded by the idyllic English countryside and fresh air. Not only is it a stone’s throw away from rural and suburban bliss, but the town itself also has a lot going for it.
Basingstoke’s Festival Shopping Centre provides the residents with an ultra-modern shopping experience, complete with premium shops, restaurants, and bars. This commercial reputation is married perfectly with Basingstoke’s proud cultural institutions. These include the world-class concert hall and endless yearly festivals, making it difficult to leave for the capital on weekends.
Families looking for the best commuter towns near London, which also have thriving schools, will see Basingstoke as a winner. The numerous primary and secondary schools that educate Basingstoke’s younger residents are highly praised by Ofsted. All in all, Basingstoke ticks many boxes if you are looking for an overall better quality of life outside of the often chocking life inside the UK capital.
Camberley is the new kid on the block when it comes to the best commuter towns near London, and competition has been fierce to settle in this leafy Surrey town. The openness of Camberley, interspersed with rivers, inlets, and woodlands, gives the town a far more countryside feel than you would expect, something that has been responsible for its growth in popularity.
Around thirty-five miles west of London, Camberley is far closer than many towns on our list, yet the commute isn’t always the smoothest of journeys. Taking the longest on our list of best commuter towns, the train journey from Camberley to central London will take you around an hour and fifteen minutes. And yet, it is this relative isolation from the grips of the capital that make Camberley a popular destination in which to settle. The trade-off for a slightly longer commute is the chance to live in a green and pleasant town close to the UK’s largest city.
It isn’t only Camberley’s leafy charm that has made many commuters turn their hard-working eyes to the town. Camberley’s small size hasn’t taken anything away from its numerous shopping centers, theatres, and nightlife spots. Many would argue that Camberley has the best of both worlds; both the modern infrastructure to enjoy days and evenings out on the town, while simultaneously enjoying a quiet charm that has drawn many Londoners and career-centric workers to the small town streets of Surrey.