London’s hybrid commuters can use flexi season tickets, which allow eight days of travel in every 28 days. The tickets were designed to provide flexibility for workers who ditched the daily commute in favour of a part-time homeworking routine.
But not all flexi tickets were created equal, and savings vary wildly by location and train provider.
In 2021, Savills estate agents analysed the flexi ticket savings compared to typical monthly season tickets in 32 London commuter stations. In Stevenage, a flexi ticket saves a commuter £214 per month – or 55 percent of their commuting costs.
In nine other extended commuter belt towns, including Hastings, Chippenham, Swindon and Winchester, however, the proportionate savings are little more than a third of that, at 20 percent.
In Royston, Hertfordshire, a flexi ticket saves commuters 47 percent of their season ticket costs – a total of £2,790 over 12 months. In Petersfield in Hampshire, the cash savings over a year are less than half that at £1,116.
In Winchester, the saving is only £107 per month. Lucian Cook of Savills, said: “Anyone here being called into the office for another day a month goes pretty close to wiping out the saving.”
So where does it make most financial sense to relocate if you want to work from home three days a week?
After Stevenage, the highest proportionate savings are in Welwyn Garden City, Slough, Woking, Sevenoaks and Guildford.
Dominic Griffiths, of Connells estate agents in Welwyn Garden City, said: “Half or 60 percent of our buyers are coming out of London; pre-pandemic it was half that, if not less.”
He added: “People are saying they just don’t need the transport links anymore because they are only travelling to London a couple of times a week. Now people are happy to be 15 to 20 minutes away from the station.”
More than two thirds of these London movers are first-time buyers who are moving outwards, seeking more space for their money so that they can work from home, said Mr Griffiths. Many are using the government-backed 95 percent mortgages.
Competition is fierce – particularly for houses. “Of the last 10 sales, eight had bidding wars,” said Mr Griffiths.
Ian Wilson, of Hunters estate agents in Stevenage, said there had been a jump in Londoners moving out of the capital and in August 2020, the local station opened another platform to increase capacity.
“A lot of people are saying they don’t have to be in London for work anymore and they want more for their money,” said Mr Wilson. “Homes are selling almost immediately. We will have 10 viewings booked in two hours of listing.”
Stevenage was the first “new town” built after the Second World War, but there are Victorian and Edwardian houses in the original old town. Ex-council houses are popular with first-time buyers.