Which commuter towns are ACTUALLY affordable?

Choosing to live in a commuter town seems like a great idea if you’re looking to save money on rent, while still having easy accessibility to your work and all the great things about the city you work in.

But, is it always a good deal? We looked at where tenants are paying some of the most unaffordable commuting rental costs – based on the ever-increasing cost of train travel, plus the also ever-increasing cost of renting.

By studying 45 commuter towns, the cost of an annual travelcard when commuting to six major cities, and the cost of a year’s rent in these towns, we looked at which places are the most expensive to live in and commute from.


It may come as no surprise that the current highest is Oxford to London; an annual travelcard costs £5,256 and the annual rent is £16,392 – totalling £21,648. Add onto this a 57 minute travel time and it’s questionable whether it’s really worth it.

This trend, however, applies to most London commuter towns: we found that they account for the top five most expensive. Guildford (£20,768), Brighton (£20,468), Cambridge (£19,808) and Woking (£18,816) are all home to extensive rental and commuting costs. Rents in Brighton and Guildford have actually both dropped on a year-on-year basis, but tenants in Cambridge and Woking have not only seen rents increase, but also the cost of travel.

The only commuter town outside of the capital in the top 10 most expensive is Bath – the average travelcard into Bristol costs £1,688 and the average annual rent sits at £15,456, a total of £17,144. If you’re commuting into Bristol, though, your best bet would be Newport in Wales – with just a 20 minute commuting time, and the total average rent plus travel at £9,159, you’d be saving a great deal.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

Northern towns are also feeling the squeeze of high commuting costs and high rents. York is the most expensive commuter option to Leeds – an annual total of £14,792, while Macclesfield is the least affordable to Manchester at a total cost of £11,460. Travelling into Liverpool is most expensive when doing so from Warrington – a total cost of £9,192 including commuting and rental costs.

Tom Gatzen, co-founder of ideal flatmate, noted how “for many, the financial burden of renting is made all the worse by the additional costs of travelling to and from their place of work.”

“With travel fares continuing to climb, this squeeze on affordability is only getting worse.”

Unfortunately the study’s results conclude this to be true. York (already the most expensive commuting option to Leeds), has seen the cost of travelling to Leeds increase by £1,716 in the past year – mainly due to rental increase but also the hiking of train ticket prices.

Canterbury (+£928) and Woking (+£459) have also seen a sharp decline in affordability for those commuting into London in the space of a year. For Bristol, Swindon has seen the biggest increase (+£272), New Brighton (+£250) into Liverpool, Rugby has seen the biggest spike for Birmingham (+£186), and Rochdale (+£180) into Manchester.

Ticket barriers

“To think that in the space of a year, the combined cost of renting and travelling has increased by as much as a thousand pounds in some places is quite crazy,” Tom Gatzen commented.

“The only silver lining is that rent and travel within these major cities would set you back even further.”

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