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 know what you want to prioritise before you start your search.
Whether you are looking for the best areas for schools, green space to walk your dog, or you want to live in the heart of a thriving LGBTQ community, there’s a place in London to suit your needs. To help you find out more, we’ve uncovered the top five boroughs to suit a variety of lifestyles. Our experts have also shared their top tips to help you find your place in the big 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 for a new build 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.
Where to live in London, based on your lifestyle
The best London boroughs for education
If you have children, finding the best schools for them to attend can be the number one priority when it comes to deciding where you want to move.
According to the 2023 GCSE results, the leafy borough of Redbridge is the top area you should be looking to move to for your children’s education. This year, 7 in 10 children achieved grades 9-4 (A*-C) in Redbridge.
Many of the state schools in the area are rated ‘good’ or even ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. One of the best schools in the area is Ark Isaac Newton Academy. 73% of GCSE students here earned a grade 5 or higher (B/C) in both Mathematics and English.
Browse our range of new homes in Redbridge
The most family-friendly London boroughs
If you have a young family, or you’re looking for the best area to start a family, you may want to consider which areas have the most families living in them. According to 2021 Census data, the most popular London district for families is the suburban hotspot of Barking and Dagenham.
Barking and Dagenham local council provides a number of services to help keep kids entertained. From holiday clubs to half-term sports clubs, your children will always have something to enjoy.
If that wasn’t enough, in 2019 it was also the cheapest London borough to buy a home at an average of £300,518 per property.
The greenest boroughs of London
While some people move to London to be part of the hustle and bustle of busy city life, if you’re searching for peaceful parks and stunning public gardens, there are plenty of neighbourhoods with green space to choose from.
According to 2023 data from Greenspace Information for Greater London, the best London district for naturists in the city is the capital’s largest borough, Bromley. Bromley has the highest percentage of green space per household than any other London borough.
Bromley has a number of beautiful parks and green spaces making it the ideal borough to live in for any outdoor lovers or those looking to treat their four-legged friend to the best walks London has to offer. One favourite park for locals is High Elms Country Park, a beautiful 250-acre space with extensive woodland, a stunning garden, and Grade II listed buildings, making for a lovely afternoon visit.
Look at our selection of new build houses and flats in Bromley
The London boroughs with the largest LGBTQ+ communities
For many in the LGBTQ+ community, having other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer people living around them can be a great source of comfort. Lambeth has the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ households of any London borough at almost 1 in 6 (excluding the City of London), according to 2021 Census data.
Lambeth has its own LGBTQIA+ forum, Lambeth Links, which is a registered charity that advocates for the community and promotes inclusivity and respect for others. This central hub is also one of the most sought-after boroughs in the city thanks to its spectacular transport links and proximity to Westminster.
Find a new home in Lambeth today
The London boroughs with the best coffee shops
Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur, a freelancer who finds inspiration in quirky cafes, or you love nothing more than meeting your friends for a weekly Saturday morning caffeine hit, you’ll no doubt want to live in an area that serves up the perfect cup. Camden is the borough with the highest rated coffee shops in London, with its average store rated 4.7 out of 5 stars on Google.
Stretching from Kings Cross to Hampstead, Camden is a borough famous for its culture and diversity, also boasting some of the best bars and restaurants in the city. With rave reviews, one of the most popular is a quirky little store called Glass Coffee, boasting a spectacular 4.9 stars based on over three-hundred Google reviews.
Browse our selection of new homes in Camden
Our Personal Picks
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 Ridgeway Views development.
Our pick of the east
Character: Bermondsey is quirky and energetic with a metropolitan edge.
What makes it special? Bermondsey blends the old and new together with an artistic flair. This area is the proud home of the Tannery Arts - a famous arts charity which provides incredible contemporary art for all locals to visit as well as a place for artists to work from. Bermondsey is also known for its incredible food, with some calling it “the capital’s gourmet hub”, providing local residents with some of the best restaurants in London as well as some of the city’s best market food, with the Maltby Street Market being adored by all.
Transport links: Bermondsey is incredibly well connected, being serviced by the Jubilee Line and having great Underground access, as well as Overground and National Rail connections.
Like the sound of Bermondsey? See apartments in our Bermondsey Heights development. Other fantastic options in east London include Shoreditch, Stratford, and Canning Town.
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.
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.