If there was a competition to crown London’s best commuter town, St Albans – which officially gained city status in 1887 following the elevation of the local abbey to a cathedral – would be a frontrunner. Located just 21 miles from the heart of the capital in leafy Hertfordshire, this historic city has it all – from the restaurants, cafés and lively arts scene that can be found on its attractive streets, to the verdant countryside, nature reserves and waterways that surround it.
So, what makes this famous commuter city so easily accessible?
National rail: trains from St Albans City station take just 20 minutes to London St Pancras International and 25 minutes to Farringdon.
On an average weekday, there are 218 trains travelling from St Albans City to St Pancras.
Car: St Albans is a short drive from the M1, A1 and M25. London Luton Airport is a 10-mile drive away and London Stansted Airport is a 35-mile drive away.
St Albans rich history can be found at every turn; especially when it comes to its housing stock. Quaint medieval cottages and Georgian houses are dotted throughout the central conservation area and surrounding villages like Wheathampstead, St Lawrence, St Peter, Childwick Bury and Aldenham.
Marshalswick in the north-east of the city is home to large, detached houses that demand a big budget. Spacious homes built in the 20s and 30s can be found close to the station in Fleetmill. While those looking for modern dwellings, as well as convenient access to the motorways, tend to favour St Stephen’s on the south side of town.
The average property price in St Albans is £ £570,200
The average rental price in St Albans is £1,275pcm, which is far lower than the London average of £2,000pcm
St Albans state schools are among the best in the country, with an impressive number rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Remember to check their catchment areas and admissions procedures at the start of the relocation process.
Most primary schools in the area have achieved above-average Ofsted results. Local primaries with the highest rankings include Maple and St Alban and St Stephen infant and junior schools.
St Albans Girls and Loreto College are both high-performing comprehensive schools for girls, while Verulam is an excellent all-boys school. The top-performing mixed comprehensives in the area are Marlborough, Beaumont and Sandringham.
Top independent schools in the area include St Albans, which takes boys aged 11 to 19 and girls in the sixth form, and St Albans High School for Girls, which takes girls aged 4 to 18.
Things to do
St Albans is proud of its city status, but it feels more like a quaint market town thanks to its historic centre. An artisan market that dates back to the 9th century is open for business on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s on St. Peter’s Street. Just around the corner on George Street, you’ll find small independent boutiques, gift shops and antique shops.
If you’re looking for something a little more contemporary, there are two shopping centres located in the city centre: The Maltings and the slightly more upmarket St Christopher Place. While a combination of chain restaurants, independent cafes and gastro restaurants offer something for every palate.
Arts and culture certainly aren’t in short supply around here. The city is home to three theatres: the Abbey, the Maltings Arts Theatre and the Alban Arena, which also hosts the annual beer festival. Other popular annual events include the fashion week and film festival.
One of the most appealing aspects of living outside of the hustle and bustle of London is the areas bucolic appeal. In the town itself, leafy Verulamium Park houses a fascinating Roman museum and provides access to paths along the River Ver.