Can an e-scooter be the key to your dream country home?
The conversation around micromobility naturally focuses on urban travel, where city-dwellers are using scooters for trips they had previously taken by tube, bus, or taxi. But what about those looking to decamp to the country?
The big move
As we get older, city life can soon become all-consuming; the pollution, the pokey flats, the endless grey and gridlocked streets. At some point, you begin to long for the green grass of rural life. A recent estate agent survey said that 4 in 10 buyers are now considering countryside locations in the wake of coronavirus. But making the big move comes with its own problems; although houses may be cheaper, keeping your job in the city is not.
The costs of commuting from out-of-town continue to rise. Those heading into work from their beautiful country idyll face an obstacle course of mini journeys during their commute. Country Life magazine recently published the 50 most-sought-after villages and towns within commuting distance of London, with some very helpful data on how much getting to work from these quaint rural gems will hurt your wallet.
For example, let’s say you chose Suffolk as your escape from the London rat race. Manningtree Station, with a host of gorgeous houses in the area surrounding it, is 59 minutes from London Liverpool Street. Local public transport is unreliable so they suggest a 5-10 minute drive to the station, where an annual car park pass can set you back £1,685. Annual season tickets for the train into Liverpool Street cost £5,412, and once you’ve taken that journey, you’ll still need to get to work. Most offices are in TFL zones 1 and 2, so for an annual travelcard to give you access to any tube or bus route in those zones, another £1444 would slip out of pocket. That’s a total of over £8,000 a year to get to work and back.
First mile/ Last mile
Owning an electric scooter would not solve the bitty nature of this commute, but it would make it considerably cheaper. Use an e-scooter for the first and last legs of the journey, and you save over £3,000 a year. That’s equivalent to a top-of-the-range model, meaning that within a year you’ll have made your money back.
Trips like these are known as the ‘First / Last Mile’ problem: the distance between the transport hubs and your final destination that are too long to count as a ‘comfortable’ walking experience, but too short to drive. For commuters, it often means multiple journeys being made by a car or taxi to reach a bus stop, tube or train station. And as discussed, these trips add up.
The further people choose to live from inner cities, the larger this issue becomes. London’s outer reaches are increasingly gentrifying, as young professionals seek more space to start a family. Even for those closer to city centres, owning a scooter is a safer bet than relying on rental infrastructure that is geared towards city centre mobility, as opposed to travel from the suburbs.
Expand your horizons
Traditionally, electric scooters have been marketed to young, recent graduates that live within urban centres, who want an environmentally conscious way to move around that requires less exertion than cycling.
But looking at the economics, e-scooter ownership could also prove crucial to slightly older professionals wanting to upscale. Especially when you consider that mortgage lenders take commuting costs into account, as part of your annual household income, before deciding what you can afford, an e-scooter could be the difference between a nice house and your dream home.
Suddenly, a generation can expand their horizons. What happens if you can’t find a family home in Croydon or Barking? You can look further afield to Tunbridge Wells, Cambridgeshire, Henley, or Sutton Courteney. Owning an electric scooter could be the key to the rural lifestyle you’ve been craving throughout the urban lockdown.