Surge in commuter train station searches as workers start office return

  • Buyers searching for homes near commuter stations into major cities jumped significantly between June and August, with the biggest jump in Chelmsford where searches have more than doubled (+107%)
  • Eight out of the ten train stations that have seen the biggest increases in searches are all around an hour away from the major cities of London, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield
  • The opening of Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station saw searches soar more than 200% on their opening day compared to the previous Monday as Londoners gained new commuting options
  • The rise in searches for commuter stations suggests more people looking for a quicker route to work on office days as more people start to spend part of the working week back in the office

New data from the UK’s biggest property website Rightmove reveals that the return to the office for many workers has led to a jump in buyer searches for commuter stations, with searches for Chelmsford station more than doubling (+107%) from June to August 2021.

Eight of the top ten stations outside of London that have seen the biggest increase in buyer searches are all within an hour train commute from a major city. The other two stations in the top ten, Liverpool Lime Street and Southampton Central, are in central city locations, suggesting a desire from some to live closer to work.

The analysis compares buyer searches for stations across Great Britain in June 2021 with August 2021, to measure the impact of the gradual return to the office, which has been encouraged by the government since July.

Overall searches for stations remained steady in June compared to August, but commuter stations outside of London saw a significant jump as more people started their usual morning commute again, at least for part of the week. On average across the top ten, searches were up 42% in August compared to June.

Sittingbourne Station, an hour’s train commute from London, saw a rise of 47% in buyer searches, while Crewe, under an hour from Birmingham, saw a jump of 32%. Chesterfield, just a short train away from Sheffield, saw an increase of 30%.

Meanwhile the opening of Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station last week is providing more commuter choice. Searches for Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station soared 206% on their opening day compared to the previous Monday, and searches were up 87% across the first four days of the week, compared to the previous week.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data comments: “More people are starting to return to the office for at least a few days a week, and so quick routes into major cities are rising up the priority list again. Though some stations such as Chelmsford are always popular, the notable increase from June to August while overall searches for stations remained stable, suggests the growing importance of the morning commute for those who don’t work locally. While the demand to relocate or search for more space has by no means gone away, the numbers suggest that this will need to be balanced with easy transport access on office days, which has understandably been lower on the agenda for many over the last eighteen months.”

Top ten stations by buyer search increase (outside London)


Increase in buyer searches

June 2021 to August 2021

Chelmsford Station +107%
Liverpool Lime Street Station +59%
Sittingbourne Station +47%
Crewe Station +32%
Hassocks Station +32%
MediaCityUK Tram Stop +32%
Southampton Central Station +30%
Chesterfield Station +30%
Folkestone West Station +27%
Kettering Station +26%



Notes to editor

  • Buyer searches for stations compares June 2021 with August 2021
  • Searches for Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station compared 20th – 23rd September with 13th – 16th September


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