The Commuting Guide and Country Travel

Having a car in the country is pretty much essential and for families more than one car is very common. Most country towns and villages within a daily commutable distance from London either have their own train station, or are within only a few miles of one. Proximity to a train station with a relatively short connection to London has a large bearing on house prices. Those in a pleasing area and on a fast line are sold at a premium. If you don’t need a rail connection nearby, you can get even more value for your money when purchasing your country property.

The one definite additional cost to be incurred by people moving from London to the country is the cost of travel. Be it the price of fuel or the ever increasing cost of train fares, there is no escaping the fact that car or train travel is not cheap. In making the decision to move from the city to country this cost needs to be factored in to your financial plans. Any aspect of travel in the country that doesn’t involve the car or the train such as walking or cycling to and from your destination has its obvious health and wellbeeing benefits as well as saving you money.

Ten Best Tips for Commuting businessmen on train

  • Commuting not only costs money but also costs you time. Using that time sensibly and productively is vital and make a huge difference.  The key is to take control of it rather than letting it control you. Use it as ‘me time’ and make it work for you. How many people carrying the burdensome demands of work and family crave a bit of peace and quiet, some space and 'down time' to do very little or nothing at all? Commuting allows this. Time for mild reflection is an underestimated privilege. 
  • Minimise the cost. Buying an annual rail card saves you about 20% of the comparable monthly rate and if you include tube fares there are further savings. Car parking at train stations is not cheap and finding a free parking space on the roadside or similar could save you between £600 and £1000 a year. Needless to say you have to be quick to find them. The early bird gets the worm! Some commuters save the cost of station car parking by paying less to a local resident to park on their driveway. Being picked up and dropped off at the station by a friend, spouse or partner has savings too, especially if that means you save on the cost of a second car. Car share is a sensible way of either commuting to your place of work or to your local station. 
  • Buy gadgets. Commuting has been made much more enjoyable in recent years by the leaps and bounds in mobile technology. Everyone has the ability to watch a film, listen to music or the radio, play games or merely read a book from a tablet or smart phone. Most devices and smart phones can access newspapers too. Long gone are the days of an annoying fellow traveller flapping a noisy broad sheet around. Gadgets are great for work or leisure.  
  • Sleep or power nap wherever possible. Continue bedtime on the train in the morning or recharge the batteries for your evening`s exploits on the way home from work. You couldn’t sleep on the underground or bus or in the car, so make the most of the fact that you`re being chauffeured by train and grab forty winks!
  • Practiced commuters find it useful to have a secondary route home for times of emergency or a place to stay near their workplace. Although the vast majority of journeys run on schedule there is no way of avoiding occasional extreme weather conditions, strike, or other incident leading to delays or cancellations. To avoid much frustration, have a fall back plan up your sleeve, even if it is a little costly. It won’t be called on often, if at all.
  • Make friends. Commuting is a very good way of making friends. Many people on commuter trains regularly sit in the same parts of the train and make friends with an interesting array of fellow passengers. This leads to relationships being formed of all sorts, from best buddies to collections of drinkers or sports fans, or just the ordinary sorts of friends that you`d meet anywhere. It is not at all unlikely that someone getting on at your station is a parent at your kid’s school, or a member of the gym or cricket club. Country people are a lot more considerate and polite than their London counterparts, and this extends to the train crowd. (Snarling at a stranger is not advised, you might be introduced socially!)
  • Be creative. Learn Italian, write a novel, read poetry, devise a new business venture.
  • Work on the train. How many people in a busy office or work place crave for a break from face to face meetings, phones ringing and e-mails expecting an immediate response? The train can be your very own private work space. Review your day, set priorities, make the most of it. 
  • If you can afford it consider traveling first class. Spend that bit extra and buy an annual first class ticket. It’s not an awful lot more than standard class but the benefits are enormous. Your journey will be even more peaceful and you`ll be guaranteed a seat for both legs of your journey.
  • home lap topBreak the commute. Work from home on a regular basis, even once a month is useful. Commuting can be tiring so if you can, organise it so that you work remotely as much as possible. Much of daily working practice involves the computer and its becoming less and less an essential part of many jobs to be physically present all the time or every day of the week. Remote operating systems and ‘cloud’ storage are becoming increasingly effective tools. Please see ‘Work from Home’ section for more advice.

A word about country vehicles 

Unless you are in a country town with all your day to day needs within walking distance, one vehicle per adult is the norm. This might include older teens. The classic choice of country vehicle is well known and obvious. High sides, thick tyres, plenty of room for kids, dogs, friends, muddy boots and all manner of kit; bikes, surfboards, whatever your pleasure! Perhaps you need good pulling power for the horse box or the boat.
The chances are that one type of car will be ideal for weekends but a different type suits the daily run around. Many families car swap about with the ‘gas guzzler’ getting left at the station most days and a super-efficient eco run-about doing the school runs and buzzing around, swapping back only when the ‘big car’ is needed. Different things work for different people, but it is more than likely that your country car needs will not match your London car ownership. It is a cost factor for consideration, but there are more ways to solve this than you might think. Changing the cars will probably happen, but it is not something to rush into.

Motoring for pleasureCounty Lane

If you like cars then the country is the place to be. Many of us have dreamt of driving down a leafy country lane in an open top sports car, perhaps a vintage or classic, with passers-by turning to admire the sheer beauty and 'coolness'. Speciality and prestige cars are rarely driven by Londoners. The roads are frequently blocked up, there is the congestion charge and nowhere to park an expensive or special car. Leaving anything on the streets that pre-dates hi-tech alarms and immobilisers is just too risky and London garages are scarce and consequently phenomenally expensive.

In the country one can keep a specialty car safely under cover and get to use it whenever you want. Many properties come with garaging or a barn so there will be space for your dream motor or even a collection! Sports, classic, or vintage collectable cars are a very popular hobby for many country dwellers.

Even if what you drive is not particularly special, it will fare much better parked on your own spacious, off road, gated driveway than it does parallel parked in a residents permit bay on a London street. Lower insurance premiums will reflect this to your advantage.