How to choose where to live in London
London is an amazing, ever-changing patchwork of different neighbourhoods, each with its own distinctive character and vibe.
Yet with so many different areas – all promising their own unique blend of city living – searching for houses or apartments in London can feel a bit daunting. This is why it’s important to narrow down what you want before you start your search. So here are a few tips to help you find your place in the city.
What are you looking for?
Focusing on a few key issues can help you pinpoint the kind of living experience you want, and the areas you might want to focus on.
Five things to consider before you start looking in London
1. What’s your budget?
From Belgravia to Brockley, it won’t surprise you to hear that house prices vary dramatically across the capital. So before you start hunting, it’s a good idea to establish what you can realistically afford.
Talking to a mortgage adviser can help you with the numbers. You could also read our article on the cost of buying a new home here. Once you’ve established your budget, using property websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla will give you a good idea of which areas of London are within your reach.
Top tip: If an area looks out of your price league, exploring around the borders of it can sometimes reveal more affordable options.
2. Lifestyle and character
Are you looking for an area that feels really vibrant or a bit more laid back? While some parts of London, such as Shoreditch and Camden are known for being lively and energetic, others like Dulwich and Primrose Hill have a much more relaxed and village-like vibe. Similarly, you might be attracted to older, established areas, such as Clerkenwell and Stoke Newington, or prefer up-and-coming areas like Stratford and Hackney Wick.
Top tip: If you like the sound of an area, make sure you visit it and take a good look around at different times. A neighbourhood that feels quiet during the day, can turn into a party town at night. It might even be worth booking accommodation and staying overnight.
3. Type of housing
From elegant Victorian terraces and stylish 1930s villas to uber-modern apartments, homes in London reflect a huge variety of styles.
While many people are attracted to characterful older properties, it’s worth bearing in mind that they tend to be more expensive to heat and maintain. Contemporary new-build properties are designed to be far more energy-efficient and cheaper to run.
When you’re living in the city, it’s reasonable to expect that services such as schools, GP practices, hospitals, parks and gyms, will be nearby. But areas do vary. Some areas might have three major hospitals within easy reach, others just one. So it’s worth doing a bit of investigative work.
5. Transport links
Whether it’s for work, socialising or travelling further afield, do you need the speed and flexibility of great transport connections on your doorstep? Some parts of the capital might only be served by buses, while others offer the whole range of options.
Top tip: TFLs WebCAT map is often used by city planners, but it’s also a good tool for working out whether an area you’re looking at is well served.
Now you’ve established a few principles, it’s time to take a quick tour of some of the areas we think could fit the bill – each one showing a different, distinct side to the city.
Our pick of the north
Character: Semi-rural with a genuine village vibe.
What makes it special? Mill Hill is a Zone 4 suburb, only 10 miles from the centre of London that doesn’t feel like London at all. At heart, it’s a big, big-hearted village community that’s a perfect fit for families. It’s got more than its share of independent shops, outstanding primary schools and even a village green. For days out you’ll find Adventure Golf or the RAF Museum barely a mile away.
Transport links: Trains from Mill Hill Broadway station will take you from suburban charm to the international hub of St Pancras or the shops and shows of the West End, all in under half an hour.
For available properties in Mill Hill view our Millbrook Park development, also of interest may be our other development in the Mill Hill area Ridgeway Views.
Our pick of the east
Character: Walthamstow (#awesomestow to locals) is arty and energetic with a strong community spirit.
What makes it special? Whether you’re hungry for art, history, greenery, or well, food, Walthamstow has it all.
It’s the proud home of God’s Own Junkyard – a famous neon playground selling creative, colourful signs – but also 500 acres of the natural, meandering Lee Valley Regional Park. It’s host to big-name shops you’d hope for but also the longest daily market in Europe. And with its rich mix of Caribbean and hipster cool inspired restaurants and gastropubs, as well as plenty of pizza places, it’s trendy and family-friendly all at once. Many schools in the area are ‘outstanding’ too.
Transport Links: Central Walthamstow is incredibly well connected with Overground and Underground access, taking you to the city one way and Epping Forest the other.
Like the sound of Walthamstow? See new apartments in our Blackhorse View development. Other fantastic options in east London include trendy Shoreditch, vibrant Bethnal Green, and up and coming Upton Park.
Our pick of the south
Character: Vibrant, bustling and authentically cool.
What makes it special?
Often voted one of London’s coolest city spots, Tooting has two lively indoor markets packed with everything you might want as well as an eclectic mix of things you never knew you needed (or even knew existed) and thanks to platefuls of independent street food stalls has gone from ‘curry capital’ to culinary cultural melting pot. An impressive and eclectic mix of independent shops, bars and restaurants only adds to a seemingly effortless trendiness.
The two huge parklands of Tooting Bec Common and Tooting Graveney Common, as well as the UK’s largest lido mean it’s a place with tons of open space, which, along with great schools, makes it great for young families too.
Transport links: Tooting has two Underground stations, both on the Northern line with trains to the City and West End. Tooting railway station has Thameslink too, opening up even more of the capital.
If Tooting sounds good to you, book a visit to our Springfield Place development.
Our pick of the west
Character: Characterful, culturally rich, and incredibly well connected.
What makes it special? New transport links have driven mass regeneration and huge business interest, preparing an already exciting area for an even better future. Within recent years Acton’s links to Crossrail and HS2 have meant a mass of new amenities, schools and shops now call it home.
And that’s on top of all the things that already drew people to the area, like lively Acton Market, a regular fixture since medieval times and still going strong, the parks and tree-lined streets that make it one of London’s greenest areas, and a famously friendly, culturally diverse community packed with independent cafes, antique stores and more.
Transport links: Acton’s new Crossrail connections put Central London’s shows and shopping less than 10 minutes away, while the High Speed 2 is set to open the north of the country up to anyone ready to call the area home.
If Acton sounds like home to you, make an appointment to visit our Western Circus development.
How to find the best part of London for you
Hopefully, you’ve now got a better idea of what different areas of London have to offer. But we’ve only really scratched the surface and there are plenty of other options (and hidden gems) to discover. So why not start exploring today?
Helping you make your move
Whether you’re a first-time or existing homeowner, we have a variety of offers to help you make your London move.