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Essex borough of Thurrock is the top destination for Londoners escaping the capital

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Thurrock in Essex has become the top destinations for Londoners looking to escape the sky-high property prices of the capital - and especially first-time buyers, a new survey has revealed.

Estate agents Hamptons International looked at land registry figures to determine the top 20 places Londoners re-located to in 2014 (as reported by the Evening Standard). 

Thurrock nailed the number one spot, followed by its fellow Essex neighbour, Epping Forest in second place. 

With the borough's main town, Grays, located just a 35-minute train ride from London Fenchurch Street, Thurrock is in easy reach of the capital but also boasts its own set of charms, including plenty of green space.

Lakeside shopping centre

Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock, Essex

The birthplace of comedian Russell Brand is home to Lakeside, one of the UK's foremost shopping malls. 

Its historic Tilbury Docks - dating back to the Tudor times - and 19th Century Coalhouse Fort have been used as a location for dozens of films over the past few decades, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Batman Begins

Located on the north bank of the River Thames, almost half the land in Thurrock is designated as green belt, to protect the surrounding environment and wildlife, and prevent urban development. 

There's also plenty of scope for culture vultures in the area, with Purfleet's Royal Opera House and National Skills Academy for creative and cultural skills offering a wealth of events and opportunities.

Thurrock's Tilbury Docks were used to film Batman Begins

Thurrock's Tilbury Docks were used to film Batman Begins

Possibly the greatest attraction as far as Londoners are concerned, however, are Thurrock's reasonable house prices.

According to the Hampton figures, exiting Londoners spent an average of £189,591 on property in Thurrock last year, compared to average London flat prices of £451,194 (rising to £586,532 for terraced properties). 

In comparison, the average price of a flat in Thurrock is £120,556, increasing to £219,852 for houses.

"The gap between buying in London and in places like Thurrock is absolutely huge," says Johnny Morris, head of research at Hamptons. "We have seen an increase in the number of first-time buyers looking further afield for a home they can afford as prices in London continue to increase."

Epping Forest

Epping Forest

London's beloved Epping Forest is next on the list for fleeing city dwellers, with the 6,000 acre woodland sprawl - once referred to as "the lungs of London" - proving ever-popular for commuters.

However prices take a notable jump here, with the average Londoner spending £428,151 on re-locating to Epping Forest; nearly £250,000 more than they spent in Thurrock.

See the full list of destinations Londoners escaped to last year, below.

The top ten destinations (and the average amount spent by exiting Londoners)

1. Thurrock, Essex (£189,591)

2. Epping Forest, Essex (£428,151)

3. Medway, Kent (£183,429)

4. Elmbridge, Surrey (£801,012)

5. Broxbourne, Hertfordshire (£341,371)

6. Spelthorne, Surrey (£899,676)

7. Reigate & Banstead, Surrey (£408,130)

8. Hertsmere, Hertfordshire (£456,343)

9. Dartford, Kent (£210,887)

10. Epsom & Ewell, Surrey (£555,958)

(Source: Hamptons International/ Land Registry)

Photos: Rex Features

What do you think? Are you struggling to get on the property ladder in London? Would you consider re-locating to an Essex borough in order to buy your first house? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below

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