Wednesday, September 26The Voice of London

Living in London vs commuting to the capital

London is the third most expensive city in the world – and this doesn’t look set to change with the average Londoner now paying £1,500 per month. With Harry Potter style cupboards and tents in living rooms going for £500 per month, it seems that no asking price is too much these days. But, what if there’s a way out? Words: Eireann Beardon, Grace Faulkner and Shannon Cowley

People travel from all around the country to work in the city, and others even jump on a plane to cut costs. No measure seems too drastic to avoid getting stuck in generation rent. So, is it worth giving up your time and saving money to get out of the trap?

We’ve compared the prices of a one and a half hour commute from up north to the monthly rent in one of the most popular cities in the world- and the results are shocking.

map jpeg

Looking at the Virgin Trains East Coast route between Retford and London King’s Cross, (which can cost as little as £7.85 one-way) we compared rent prices along the train line to see the vast difference between London rent and the cost of living outside the capital.

In Retford, £1,200 would get you a six bedroom house complete with 3 bathrooms, but in London, a pokey one bedroom flat in Kings Cross would set you back £1,495. If you don’t mind feeling a little claustrophobic and find the noise of trains soothing – then I guess you’re winning. If not, then you’re better off joining the commuters!

North Greenwich is a desirable place for young professionals to live as it’s close to central London with a busy nightlife. But is it worth it?

london v ret

The price gap is pretty obvious, but there are pros and cons to commuting just to cut costs. We have made a list of them below to help you decide whether you’re a Londoner or a commuter.


  • You can get on the property ladder with a mortgage
  • Higher average wage in London to take home
  • Quieter lifestyle and less populated
  • Less pollution
  • Cheaper cost of living/housing/pubs!
  • You’ll have 3 hours of commuting time to catch up on work (or Eastenders)
  • You don’t have to move away from home


  • Your social life will suffer
  • Long commutes with sweaty people
  • Drinks with work colleagues will be a problem when you’re catching the 9pm train
  • Daily fights for a train seat
  • A car is essential in rural areas
  • You’ll have a longer day even if you’re only working for 8 hours


Here’s what the professionals think:

Suren Thiru, Lloyds TSB housing economist, says: “Distance from work is often the deciding factor for purchasing a home. It is generally true that the further you commute, the larger are the financial savings made in terms of lower house prices. A major consideration for commuting to London is that the typically higher income that can be earned, tends to go much further in towns outside the capital. In addition, bigger homes can be bought for lower prices.”
And here’s what you think:

“I am from Retford and you get much more house for your money than in London. I have a child and a family, so moving to London would be impractical and we just could afford the size of the house we’d need.” Matthew, 27

“I did get a job offer in London which would have meant a commute from Retford or Newark. Not as bad as most, I just couldn’t do the 4/5am starts to get to the station. It might be good as an one off, but not 5 days a week” Louise, 25

“At the age of 28 I didn’t expect to be living in a house share, but this is the only way I can afford to live in London. So I suppose commuting could be worth thinking about.” Jonathan, 28

“I don’t think you can put a price on living in the best city in the world even if I do eat Pot Noodles for dinner three times a week.”  Izzy, 21


Now you decide, would you commute from further afield to save money?

Click the poll below and take your vote!