June 14, 2024
I'm fed up with London rents: Will we save any money if we move to Leigh on Sea or Margate?




I’ve had enough of paying London rent and want to try to live somewhere cheaper, so I can save money for a deposit to buy my own home.

It’s unlikely that I will be able to buy in London, so I would like to try out another location before I hopefully buy there.

I’d like to live by the sea and have heard good things about Leigh on Sea, in Essex, and Margate, in Kent, and that they are both up-and-coming.

My girlfriend and I currently pay £2,200 a month for a two-bedroom flat in Finsbury Park in London, and travel into central London for work.

We work in London and both need to be in the office three days a week, so would have to commute by train. Would we actually save any money by moving? What are the things we need to consider when working it out?

Ed Magnus of This is Money replies: It’s sensible to be asking this question, particularly when you’re having to shell out so much on rent each month.

Rents have been rising fast. Over the past three years alone, the average UK rental property outside of London has risen by 27 per cent from £853 a month to £1,084 a month, according to the HomeLet rental index.

In London alone, the average rent has risen by 37 per cent during that time, rising from £1,580 a month in April 2021 to £2,167 a month as of April this year.

Rising rental costs will not only be putting added pressure on many people’s day-to-day budgets, but inhibiting their ability to save towards buying a home.

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HOW THIS IS MONEY CAN HELP

It’s unsurprising that some people are considering moving to cheaper locations away from the capital. 

But while the cost of London rent is high, commuting by train can also be very expensive – especially if you need to be at work by 9 o’clock. 

This means that any cost you save in rent by moving to a commuter town like Margate or Leigh on Sea, needs to be weighed up against the cost of travel.

But it may also be the case that your lifestyle will be cheaper in another town. London is an expensive city to live in, and the cost of meeting up with friends and going to events can mount up. 

You could find you are able to cut back on certain costs that may have been important in London, but are no longer possible elsewhere. 

Will moving to Margate save money? 

For anyone working in London, but wishing to live by the sea, Margate could be a good option. 

The Kentish seaside town has become popular with creative types and is now full of buzzing cafes, retro shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars, not to mention the sea and its beaches.

The average two-bed in Margate is available for £952 a month, according to Rightmove. That’s less than half what our reader is paying in London.

While rising rents and house prices are high in this country, train travel is also very expensive

However, you’ll have to be prepared for a rather lengthy commute. Depending on what train you hop on, you could be travelling for more than two hours. 

And the tickets do not come cheap. The anytime day return costs £95.20, or there is a cheaper £80.90 option but only for a few select journeys.

If you opt for the £95.20 ticket three times a week that will set you back £285.60 each. Over the course of a month that could be costing you £1,142 each, amounting to £2,284 a month in total.

However, if you are 30 years of age or under you should be eligible for a young person’s railcard. Unlike many other types of railcard, these can be used at peak times. 

In this case, an anytime return between Margate and London should be no more than £62.80, which would slash the monthly costs down to £753, or £1,506 combined. 

On that basis, you would lose a combined £262 each month by moving to Margate, compared to your rent in London. 

Move to Margate? Pictured: outdoor restaurant seating on a street on nice summer day in Margate. The town on the southeast coast of England is known for its sandy beach

Check season tickets

If you are only working three days a week in the office, then there is often a good chance a season ticket may not prove to be cost-effective.

But in the case of Margate, you will actually be far better off going for the monthly season ticket. 

It costs £658.60 a month each (£1,317.20 combined), but you won’t be eligible for any further discounts even with a railcard. 

Even so, despite the savings made on rent in Margate, you will still be worse off moving there, thanks to the high commuting costs.

In fact, staying in Finsbury Park in your £2,200 flat will save you almost £69.20 each month. 

The above calculations have not factored in tube travel around London, but we can only assume you’ll need to pay whether you live in London or not – as you will need to get from the train station (Victoria, London Bridge or St Pancras) to your office. 

Will moving to Leigh on Sea save money? 

Leigh on Sea in Essex could prove to be a more convenient alternative to Margate, as it’s closer to the capital with only a 45 minute train into London Fenchurch Street.

The average two bed in Leigh On Sea costs £1,652 a month to rent, according to Rightmove. 

Not dissimilar to Margate, Leigh is now home to a bustling community of designers and artists. There is a beach, a number of pubs and lots of fresh seafood.

An Anytime day return from Leigh On Sea to London costs £22.40. Tube travel is not included.

Leigh on Sea is another popular English seaside town within commuting distance of London

This would mean that over the course of three days, you will pay £67.20 a week. Each month that could mean you’re paying £268.80 on your commute. Doubled between the two of you that could equate to £537.60.

Factoring in your current rent in Finsbury Park in London and the added train fare costs, you could save yourself just £10 a month by moving to the average two-bed in Leigh on Sea. 

With a railcard, your collective monthly costs on train travel would equate to a collective £354 a month, meaning in this scenario you would be saving £200 a month by moving to Leigh on Sea.

Since you are both working in the office three days a week, there will be no point buying a season ticket as it works out more expensive from Leigh on Sea – unlike in Margate.

But if either of you were to start going into the office five days a week, the monthly season ticket will set you back £411.30 each, not including onward tube travel.

What other locations could they consider?

Ultimately, a lot will come down to the type of property you are after. If you can find a bigger and better property in one of these coastal towns for half the price of the equivalent flat in London, then it may deem it worth it, regardless of whether you are making a saving or not.

Equally, if saving is more important than the type of flat you live in, then you may decide that moving to a smaller home or a cheaper area in London would be a worthwhile temporary sacrifice.

If your heart is set on living by the sea then there are many coastal towns within commutable distance of London that you could consider, including Brighton, Southend on Sea, Hastings and Worthing.

The average rental property in Brighton is available for £1,587 a month according to Zoopla and is just over one hour by train to and from London.

Southend on Sea demands rents of £1,119 on average and journeys from Southend Central into London take almost 1.30 hours.

Rental properties in Worthing in West Sussex are available for £1,153 a month on average. Train journeys from the seaside town into London take close to 1 hour 30, albeit they can take longer.

Rental properties in Hastings in East Sussex are available at £1,021 on average. Journeys into London can take anything between one and half hours and over two hours.  

Richard Donnell, executive director at Zoopla, says: ‘When looking to move out and seek better value, it depends on rent levels that are accessible to train stations for commuting to work. 

‘Rents have increased fast in recent years as renters have sought to get better value for money, so the potential savings may not be as great as you may hope when factoring in travel and other living costs. 

‘It’s important to be clear on how many days you will need to commute. 

‘There is also a desire to get a bit more house than you may have now, which will reduce how much you can save. 

‘Try and research the market and get the balance between somewhere nice to rent, which won’t be so expensive that you can’t save for the deposit.’

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