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Where To Live In London: A Quick Guide To The Central Boroughs
Jun 26th 2013 | Written by TownFish Team

Where To Live In London: A Quick Guide To The Central Boroughs

There’s more to London than just Oxford Street and each area has its own unique flavour and style. So how do you decide where to live in London?  Here’s a short rundown of the central London boroughs. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful when deciding on where to live in the city!

Westminster

Centrally-located, you’ll never feel out of the loop in Westminster. Surrounded by famous places from Hyde Park to Big Ben, Trafalgar Square to Charing Cross, and never more than a short walk or tube ride from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Westminster is not for the frugal Londoner. Accommodation prices are high here – you won’t find much below £100 PW for a flatshare, unless you’re happy to share a room with someone else. However it’s important to consider the reduced transport costs if you’re happy to walk everywhere; you might end up saving money in the long run.

If you’re looking for a safe area, Westminster is generally well-lit and sedate. And the nightlife is right on your doorstep with easy access to Soho, Oxford Street, Mayfair and the West End brimming with places open 24/7.

City Of London

The Gherkin at night

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Also known as the Square Mile, the City of London is the central hub for trading and finance in the United Kingdom. Expect to be surrounded by plenty of expensive suits as you marvel at the architecture of buildings such as the Gherkin, which dot the skyline.

If swanky bars and restaurants are your thing, you’ll never be left wanting in the City.  Try a high-altitude champagne experience or food with a view for a taste of the high-flyer life.

There are always plenty of people milling around, so it’s unlikely you’ll feel unsafe in the City. The area is well-policed and you’re never far from a bus stop or tube station so you’ll never feel stranded.

Affordable living is not exactly in abundance here, with the average flat share setting you back £150 PW. However transport links are fantastic and you’re never a quick tube ride or bus from central, and almost always walking distance from shops, bars and restaurants. However at weekends you may end up needing to venture out of the area as a lot of the local businesses are closed at weekends.

Tower Hamlets

Stretching from the heady heights of Canary Wharf to the bohemian paradise of Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets can be described as anything if not diverse.  The area has seen development and redevelopment over the years and could most certainly be considered one of the up-and-coming areas of London and one to watch in the next few years.

If you’re young at heart, you’ll feel right at home amongst the street markets, hip bars and cheap and cheerful restaurants that can be found around Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Aldgate East.

Rent tends to be low here compared to the majority of central London, however prices are increasing rapidly, especially after the restoration of the area during the Olympics. That and Tower Hamlets’ growing reputation as hotspot for trendy hipsters wanting to be close to the action, demand is increasing faster than supply. Prices around the Docklands tend to be at a premium so bear this in mind when looking.

The District Line and Overground serve the area well, and there are plenty of bus routes that mean you’re never far from where you want to go. Canary Wharf is good on Thursdays and Fridays, and there are bars and restaurants nearby.

Camden

A buzzing and trendy hotspot, Camden is a fantastic place to live for young Londoners who’ve just moved to the city, or anyone with a thirst for a lively setting.

If you love gigs, you’re never far from one in Camden. There’s plenty of free live music to be found in venues like Wheelbarrow, and pubs galore lining Camden High Street. Clubbers will be glad to know that KOKO is based here.

On weekends you can visit Camden Market, where there’s fantastic food, drink and trinkets to be found. Or for something a little more scenic, there’s Regents Park and London Zoo nearby.

Rent is as diverse as the borough itself, with high prices near to the nightlife hotspot that is Camden High Street. Expect average rent to be about £120 PW for a flatshare. But rest assured that if you’re ever tempted to trek into town for a night out, a quick bus or trip on the Northern Line will take you there in no time.

Hackney

Whilst Hackney may have somewhat of a bad reputation in the eyes of many, don’t be fooled, those days have long since gone. Now a trendy hotspot, it’s undergone a massive transformation over the last few years, with a lot of it taking place recently for the Olympics.

Hackney’s highlights have become increasingly glamorous of late, with Shoreditch and Hoxton rapidly becoming the places to go for anyone who takes a good party seriously.

Hackney is well connected to the rest of East London through the East London Overground, and you can access the rest of the city by catching a quick bus to Liverpool Street, so you’ll never feel out of the loop.

Rent is still relatively low here, £110 PW for a flatshare is average although it fluctuates wildly depending on location. Expect to pay more nearer to hubs like Shoreditch High Street or Kingsland Road.

Newham

A three-mile stonesthrow from the City of London, Newham represents a huge proportion of London’s docklands areas. An up-and-coming area thanks to the recent restoration of East London, Newham boasts a population where 4 out of 10 inhabitants are aged 25 and under.

For a bit of Victorian London history you can visit the Abbey Mills Pumping Station, or sport lovers have easy access to the Beckton Dry Ski Slope. There’s also a City Farm for family outings.

Transport has recently improved with nearby Stratford International providing a gateway to most of London and beyond. Rent prices are still relatively cheap but with the ever-expanding East London transport links and local restoration of the area, are sure to rise over the next few years.

Lewisham

Lewisham is often described as a bit rough around the edges but it’s a fantastic area for someone looking to experience the diversity and vibrant nature of London without the sky-high prices.

With the arrival of the DLR station, it’s become a great option for anyone who needs easy access to the city (10 minutes to Canary Wharf), although beware that rent prices climb steeply the closer you are to the station. On average you can expect to pay about £90 PW to live around here.

Lewisham town centre is great for shopping if you don’t feel like venturing into central, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. In the day, the greenery of Ladywell Fields is nearby.

Southwark

Outside view of the Globe TheatreConveniently located just over a mile away from Central London, Southwark is a fantastic area for those who enjoy the cultural delights of London. Tower Bridge is your neighbour, and the Southbank beckons for those seeking bars, restaurants, art, and anything else you can think of.

If you love good food, Borough Market is on your doorstep, offering delightful morsels from local suppliers, and theatre lovers are no more than a short walk from the Globe and the Old Vic. It’s a fantastic location near the river, and there are great places to eat and drink, such as at St Katharine’s Docks.

Transport-wise, you couldn’t be much more in the middle of everything. London Waterloo is close by and buses are plentiful to take you everywhere, 24/7.

Rent is high as you can imagine, around £170 PW for a flatshare in this borough.

Wandsworth

Popular with new Londoners, Wandsworth has attracted attention from many due to its low council tax band. Most of the housing is situated in quiet and suburban areas, making it a popular destination for families. Expect to pay around £130 a week here for a flat share.

Antipodeans favour Wandsworth due to the abundance of pocket communities of South Africans, Australians and Kiwis. A little bit of research goes a long way in this respect; a new Londoner arriving from abroad may be able to find their home from home.

Wandsworth is well-served for transport, there are regular buses and trains into Victoria and some areas are within walking distance of the Northern Line.

Wandsworth boasts buzzing nightlife, with bars and restaurants abundant in Clapham, Wandsworth Common and Tooting.  There are also plenty of clubs, such as Inigos. Another is Infernos, but be warned it’s not for the faint-hearted!  For more all-night fun, The White House is also worth a visit. Pub lovers will adore the Ship, which is a Clapham favourite.

Sports fans should check out Putney Bridge, a gorgeous riverside location and home to no less than 20 rowing clubs. Barnes has a similar feel to it and is great for anyone looking for a more residential area with a closeknit community.

Lambeth

Originally, Lambeth was a marshland, but that’s hard to imagine now from the sprawling population that inhabits the borough these days.

Superbly located close to Central London via tube, bus or train, where you need to be is never far away. Brixton, fast becoming one of trendiest South London hotspots is here, but don’t forget Oval and Kennington, which boast their own nightlife too.

The Southbank isn’t far away, and the Imperial War Museum makes for a great day out for the family. And for cricket fans, having the Oval on your doorstep is never a bad thing.

For foodies who like their food diverse, Lambeth is a paradise. There’s great Latin food to be found, and Brixton Market offers a fantastic selection of international cuisine at the weekends.

Clubbers take note that the O2 Academy, the biggest club in London is here.

For those looking for something a little more quaint, Dulwich is a fantastic location, boasting fine period properties and excellent schools. Tulse Hill is also popular, with good rail links and places to meet.

The average rent isn’t too bad around here considering the proximity to central London, around £130 PW for a flatshare, although it can be a lot higher close in trendy Brixton.

Greenwich

A large borough sprawling over a wide area, Greenwich has been split in the middle into East and West. At the divide you’ll find the compact but pretty town centre, which has a handful of shops, bars and restaurants.

There are plenty of things to see in Greenwich, such as Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum and the Observatory. It’s a tourist hotspot because of all these attractions so there’s always plenty to do.

Greenwich can be expensive if you choose to live near Greenwich Park, but gets cheaper as you move closer to the Deptford and Lewisham borders. That said the leafy suburbian feel and relatively safe streets make Greenwich a great place to live whilst within easy reach of Charing Cross by way of a brief train ride. Rent on average is around the £120 PW mark for a flatshare.

Those who enjoy live music will be pleased to know that the O2 arena is in Greenwich, and bars such as the North Pole are great for a night out.

The restored Cutty Sark ship

The restored Cutty Sark

Islington

Boasting a unique mix of delights for visitors, Islington is an enviable borough to live in. Visitors come from far and wide for the unique antique shops that can be found here, but this is just one of many facets of the Islington life.

The nightlife here is fantastic, with bars, restaurants and clubs littered across the borough, with many conveniently packed onto the lively Upper Street.

Football fans will be glad to know that they’re close to Highbury, which also doubles up as a concert venue boasting huge names.

Unfortunately all this culture comes at a price, you’ll be pushed to find anywhere to live here for less than £150 PW. However for things to do and access to the city (a cinch on the Victoria line or a quick bus), it’s second-to-none.

Kensington and Chelsea

Kensington and Chelsea lies just west of Central London, just a quick Circle or District Line tube or bus from town. One of the most swanky and affluent boroughs, you’ll see some serious money here walking around. Stunning housing and beautiful streets are aplenty, but budget wisely as you could end up spending some serious money if you’re not careful.

If shopping is your thing, the Kings Road awaits you, with a lovely market on Saturdays full of local delights. At night there is an abundance of clubs and bars, and you’re sure to find plenty of high rollers and film stars if you look hard enough. Kensington Roof Gardens is a must-do – on some nights there are flamingos walking around the terrace!

Possibly more of a place to visit than live, you’ll need some serious income to afford the rent here, although have a look around Kensington as there is the odd property up for grabs round there if you’re set on living the K&C lifestyle. Expect to pay upwards of £200 PW for a flatshare.

Hammersmith and Fulham

In the heart of West London, Hammersmith and Fulham is only three miles away from the city centre and served by the Hammersmith and City Line and Central Line, so you can get into the centre in a matter of minutes.

However there’s plenty going on within Hammersmith to see, shopaholics and foodie will love Westfields in Shepherds Bush, which has an almost endless amount of shops, bars and restaurants within its walls. Entertainment is plentiful with Bush Theatre nearby.

Antipodeans take note there is a community here so bear this in mind when looking at accommodation, you might want to have a look in Fulham if you like being near fellow countrymen.

If you love bars, Fulham could be your top London spot, there’s an almost endless amount of bars. However a bit of research before you head out could be an idea, as many are pricey and dress codes are common in this area.

Rent can get expensive in Fulham and Hammersmith due to the sheer amount on your doorstep, try more towards Acton if you’re looking for something a bit more affordable. Expect to pay roughly £110 PW for a flatshare.