From seaside towns to quintessential English villages, there are now plenty of commuter hotspots with shared-ownership homes, all within easy reach of London.
The seaside town of Whitstable is less than an hour and a half from London Victoria and boasts a beautiful beach, bustling harbour and popular annual oyster festival. Its picturesque high street is a mix of old and new, with independent shops, cafés and restaurants sitting alongside recognisable names. There are pretty cycle paths to Faversham and Herne Bay and there’s no shortage of schools, including secondary The Whitstable School, rated “Good” by Ofsted.
What to buy:Whitstable Heights is just a mile from the station and part of the new “garden city”. There are two, three and four-bedroom homes available, and prices start from £102,500 for a 25 per cent share based on a full market value of £410,000 (hydenewhomes.co.uk/whitstable-heights).
Portslade, East Sussex
While Brighton has long been a top destination for London leavers, its neighbour, Portslade, is still little-known. That’s all about to change, as buyers priced out of Brighton & Hove are starting to realise its charms. Portslade Village still has its green, parish church and original flint buildings, not to mention a Norman manor house.
The shopping street on Station Road is busy and eclectic, while the nearby pebble beach is mostly enjoyed only by locals. The train to London Victoria takes just over an hour, and Eastbrook Primary Academy and West Hove Infant School are among the area’s “Outstanding” state schools.
What to buy: St James Square is in a former industrial area that has been rejuvenated with spacious, contemporary apartments, many of which have views of the Baltic Wharf and south-facing balconies. They can be purchased for as little as £79,500 for a 30 per cent share, based on a full market value of £265,000 (hydenewhomes.co.uk/st-james-square).
With picturesque views, charming pubs, 14th-century architecture and rolling countryside, it’s no wonder that Finchingfield is one of the most photographed villages in England. Shopaholics will love the Braintree Village outlet, which is a short drive away. Finchingfield St John the Baptist CofE Primary Academy is in the centre of the village, and the nearby secondary, Hedingham School, has been rated “Good” by Ofsted. Braintree station can be reached in 20 minutes by car, and trains get you to London Liverpool Street in just over an hour.
What to buy: Bardfield Meadows is set to launch in October and features six shared-ownership properties that have been designed to complement their rural surroundings, using local materials and building techniques. They feature contemporary kitchens, hi-tech lighting and landscaped private gardens, too. Pricing is yet to be confirmed (peabodynewhomes.co.uk/developments/bardfield-meadows).
Chalgrove’s quaint high street has a pharmacy and a GP, while there are three pubs to choose from. Just a short drive away are the rolling hills of the Chilterns, as well as Oxford’s museums, theatres and shops. Chalgrove Community Primary School is well-regarded. London can be reached by car in just over an hour, or you can drive 20 minutes and get the train to Paddington from Culham.
What to buy: Meadow Brook is a collection of homes designed with modern living in mind. They come with a private garden and allocated parking. The two and three-bedroom homes are priced from £372,500 at full market value, with 25 per cent minimum shares available to buy (homestobuy.placesforpeople.co.uk/find-ahome/meadow-brook-chalgrove).
Canterbury is renowned for its pretty riverside setting, three universities and, of course, its cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The high-speed Javelin train travels from Canterbury West to London
St Pancras in 55 minutes. Many relocators are families, keen to take advantage of the area’s excellent schools, including The King’s School and the Simon Langton grammars.
What to buy: Riverside Square is just a five-minute walk from the city centre and sits next to the River Stour in a new neighbourhood packed with cafés, restaurants and a five-screen cinema. You can purchase a 30 per cent share of a three-bedroom house for £145,500, based on an overall sale price of £485,000 (hydenewhomes.co.uk/riverside-square).
‘I worked 60-hour weeks for this dream’
Uta Boellinger and her son Pablo, 18, moved to a three-bedroom house at the St James Square development in Portslade in June 2023. “I had two jobs, worked 60-hour weeks and didn’t have my own bedroom for eight years to achieve this dream. The day we got the keys and I walked into my own home for the very first time, I literally cried.”
The 38-year-old runs her own nutrition clinic alongside her full-time job at a London-based travel and concierge company. “I’m very active. I like to cycle to Brighton along the sea front and my gym is a ten-minute walk away. There’s a bus stop just outside the development, which Pablo uses to commute to work in Brighton. Portslade station is ten minutes away, so travelling further afield into London or to Gatwick is easy too.”
Boellinger had previously been renting a one-bedroom flat but found that the Brighton/Hove area was becoming increasingly unaffordable – plus, she wanted more space. She managed to save up a deposit of £20,000 and bought a 45 per cent share in her home, which has sea views from the living-room/kitchen space. Boellinger has found her monthly outgoings are £400 more than when she was renting but expects this is go down in the winter due to her property’s efficient insulation.
“It’s such a relief to have invested in my own home and I plan to staircase when I can and eventually own 100 per cent of the apartment.”