Q. I currently live and work in Canary Wharf and am looking to finally step onto the property ladder but need to have a bit more green around me than the wharf can offer but at the same time will not tolerate a long commute, can you recommend anywhere far enough away to feel like the countryside but not too far away to keep the commute to a reasonable level?

A. For many years now the favoured place for those living in the East end who are looking for a more laid back way of life rather than staying in the big smoke they have ventured out to Essex, yes I did say ‘Essex’ the county that bears the brunt of many a joke is actually a largely rural county with small market towns, traditional villages and tiny hamlets linked by quiet country lanes. There are several well established popular places that are favoured including Woodford, Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill and Loughton where the mix of a country pub on the corner and a busy high street on your doorstep offering all that the larger cities can offer too. And then there are the smaller more quaint places such as Epping and Chipping Ongar to name just a couple where you can see countryside and property to rival Cornwall or the Cotwolds. The most attractive factor about Essex is that commuting is literally a walk in the park. The A12 will have you there in 20 minutes from the wharf by car and the Central line which can be picked up from taking the Jubilee line to Stratford will take you straight there, Essex is one of the few places out in the sticks that you can reach by tube and not have to take the over ground from a Main Rail station. The property in Essex is exquisite, a real mixture of Grand Manor houses in acres of land to beautiful Tudor style three bedroom semi’s and in contrast boasting something for everyone stunning gated developments such as Repton Park that offer stylish living in an imaginative blend of new and sympathetically designed houses and apartments in beautiful parkland surroundings that offers leisure facilities, 24 hour concierge and secured parking. Do your research; there are plenty of great locations within the county to choose from. Talk to the local agents tell them what you need and ask them to point you in the right direction, visit the area’s at different times, during the week and the weekend, to get a genuine feel for the place and most importantly do the commute in rush hour before committing yourself.