There has been a long established trend for people living in West and SW London to move further west and buy property in Surrey. Whether it’s because they’re priced out of desirable London boroughs, because of a growing family, or just because of a desire for more space and different way of life; Surrey is without doubt a popular destination for West London migrants!
I split my time between London and Surrey, with an office in Carnaby Street W1, but also an office and home in Farnham, Surrey (just about as far west as you can get in this county). So I understand firsthand what’s involved in making that decision to move out of London.
As a Surrey resident, but with my Lancaster roots firmly imprinted in my pysche, I can’t sing the praises of Surrey enough. Yes of course it’s a bit posh in parts, the population in some towns is heavily weighted to the older generation, and as a result it’s not exactly cheap. But there are also many benefits to living in this part of the world – not least the easy access to the capital.
So if you’re thinking of moving out of London, here are my insights into buying property in Surrey.
Buying Property In Surrey
Surrey is a diverse county, stretching away from London across Southern England. As such you will find that the areas close to London (some are within the M25) are more suburbian, whereas the farther you head out, the more greenbelt and real countryside you get to enjoy.
But before you fall in love with a 60s modernist house in the suburbs, or a country cottage in the Surrey Hills, some practical considerations:
Work – presumably you’re planning to continue to work in London, or at least in the short term. This will involve commuting and that means time and money. Even if a town has a station it may not be on a main route into London, or it could have a limited service at times (for example evenings and weekends). Therefore you should consider how long your commute might be, including getting to and from the stations both ends, and what you’re likely to be paying in fares.
If you’re thinking that long term you would like to move jobs and not commute to London, then the area you choose to live in must have potential for work. A sleepy village is not going to have much demand for professionals, whereas as a market town or city like Guildford will have.
Family – one of the main reasons people move out of London is because they’ve started a family. Renting a tiny flat in Ealing is no longer a romantic idyll when you’ve got a toddler running up the walls. Similarly once children get to school age many parents don’t want to be part of a postcode lottery or put their children through the 11+ to get a good school; Surrey boasts some of the best state schools in the country, both primary and secondary, so becomes a very attractive proposition for parents.
That said, good and outstanding schools are often oversubscribed, so expecting to buy a home in Surrey close to your preferred school and instantly secure a place for your child may be a bit unrealistic. If you’ve already got school age children, speak to schools in your preferred areas before you buy to see what the chances of getting a place are.
For families with pre-school children you’ll need to find a house in the right catchment area for your preferred school, and have moved in before the January deadline for applications for primary schools. Otherwise your application will count as a ‘late application’ and if it’s a popular school you may not get your first choice.
Lifestyle – moving out of London involves a lifestyle change. You will probably find that you can’t get an emergency pint of milk at 11pm as all the shops shut at 9pm or earlier. You may also find that after a night in the pub all the takeaways are closed and unless you’ve booked a taxi you don’t stand a chance of getting home!
While your local Waitrose does stock pomegranate molasses, you won’t find a multi-cultural market at the end of your road – it can be a culture shock.
So think about what you’re going to spend your leisure time doing in Surrey. If you think you’ll be making a beeline for the bright lights of Central London, you should probably be looking for a home on the eastern fringes of the county inside the M25. But if you think that your weekends will involve walking the dog or a bike ride, a leisurely coffee on the high street, a trip to the cinema or a pub lunch; you’ll be able to get this in any part of Surrey.
Budget – finally let’s talk money. Your budget will determine where you can afford to buy and what size and style of property. Having considered what you want in terms of access to work, schools and lifestyle options, you can narrow your search down further by looking at property sites.
Not surprisingly desirable properties in Surrey don’t stay on the market for long – you’ll find there are plenty of other Londoners also with the same requirements as you – so make sure you’ve got your finances in place with a mortgage agreement in principle and deposit. If you have property to sell in London, you’ll find it easier to get an offer accepted on the house you want to buy if this is already sold or under offer.
If you are struggling to find a mortgage, give me a call and we can explore your circumstances in more detail. Call 020 3355 4841 or email email@example.com