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Come home to the country

First-time buyers can enjoy village life as commuters, says Ruth Bloomfield


The average age at which  people move out of London and begin commuting back in for work is 32 – with starting a family the prime motivation for the lifestyle change.

A Hamptons International study found up to 550,000 Londoners leave the city each year, mostly to new homes in the South-east and the West of England. The majority have a young family, or plan to start one, and may not be able to afford a flat in the city, let alone a family house.

But it’s a misconception that as soon as you pass the M25 it will be possible to pick up a dream country home for a pittance. In reality, an average detached house in Kent costs £374,000, £587,591 in Hertfordshire and £700,908 in Surrey, according to property-and-house-prices website Zoopla. 

That  means shared ownership is as vital in the home counties as it is in central London. The problem is the standard of the build and the location are often disappointing, while the lack of architectural imagination displayed by some developers beyond the capital can be staggering. But there are exceptions.

Haddenham, Bucks

Haddenham, one of the best villages in Buckinghamshire, lies about two miles from Thame and five from Aylesbury. Trains from Haddenham & Thame Parkway to Marylebone take from 40 minutes and an annual season ticket is £4,520. This scenic village has thatched cottages, duck ponds, a small high street, its own junior school, and is in the catchment area for Aylesbury’s grammar schools. Catalyst Housing (homesbycatalyst.co.uk) has 18 two and three-bedroom houses available at its Thame Fields development, a few minutes’ walk from the station. A 35 per cent share of a two-bedroom house with a market value of £240,000 costs £84,000.