So today we tried another location. Since we decided to start looking for apartments, rather than houses, our options have expanded. Since St Albans appears to be a good cross-section between good travel time to the city and affordability, we we decided to have a look.
Great looking town, GREAT food options. I had the best Turkish food I've had in years.
The commute to/from London is best served by ThamesLink, which runs a high speed service. We did to/from Blackfriars Station in ~25min.
From the train station, it's a cheap bus ride into town, or a 15min stroll. There are a number of local bus services running out of the train station, including over the weekend, and seemingly on time.
The town itself is very pleasant to walk through. It's wonderful, full of restaurants, several interesting looking pubs and bars, as well as a nice open air market. People are calm. Street traffic on a Saturday was moderate, but diesel fumes were present.
All these venues seem to be open late on a Saturday, a bit plus.
The town itself is on a strong incline, it's built in a hill.
There was a vintage camera store full of a goodies, and a Jessops! There was also a Marks & Spencer that closes at 7pm on a Saturday.
We were previously looking at Woking as an apartment possibility, but St Albans has shot straight to the top.