Where to Live in London - the scoop on the best places
Where are the best places in London? North of the river or south? The monthly rent and kind of lifestyle you want in London is heavily influenced by your choice of where to live. London is made up of many suburbs or boroughs, each with their own distinct atmosphere, vibe and sense of community. Most suburbs in London are like a city within a city, each with their own High Street (the main drag) full of cafes and restaurants and hidden side streets with quirky little stores and cheap take-aways.
Also check out our cost of living page to compare the average rental costs.
Where to live depends on a few factors.
Firstly, It’s important to base yourself close to your work if possible as this makes commuting easier, faster and cheaper. However, this is not always possible and often prohibited by the cost of living in certain areas. Fortunately the public transportation network in London and the UK is comprehensive (see Getting around London) and that (along with the smallish size of the country) enables you to commute nearly anywhere. You’ll probably also want to be close to any friends or family you already have living in London. This doesn’t mean you have to be neighbours, but living a couple of Tube or bus stops away from mates is handy for socialising or when a bout of home-sickness kicks in!
For traditional new arrival’ haunts, where you'll be sure to get a big welcome (but won’t stand out one bit among all the others from ‘around the world’) Earl's Court, Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush are safe bets. However more and more areas in the outer zones (see London Orientation) are becoming social and business hubs, with affordable accommodation and an array of employment opportunities.
Some of the best places to live in London are:
South: Clapham, Brixton, Battersea and Wandsworth – Clapham and Battersea have become very popular over the past couple of years, with many of the industrial buildings being replaced by new flats. This is a lively area with plenty of bars, restaurants, shops and pubs. Here you’ll find lots Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans taking advantage of the reasonably priced accommodation and good transport links.
South West: Earl’s Court, Fulham, Putney, Wimbledon and Southfields – Many antipodeans head to these areas full of working travellers, particularly Earl’s Court which is full of hostels and affordable accommodation, with excellent transport links to central London. For more of a ‘neighbourhood’ feel head to Putney or Fulham, where lively pubs and clubs meet parks and public libraries. Wimbledon (great spot for tennis fans!) and Southfields also have lots of flat-shares and good transport links.
West: Shepherd’s Bush, Acton, Hammersmith – Fast becoming the hot-spot for Aussies and Kiwis working in London. Shepherd’s Bush and Acton are filled with affordable accommodation and legendary pubs such as the Shepherd’s Bush Walkabout and Acton’s Redback Tavern. Head here for the pub culture and accessible transport links, or Hammersmith for a tamer (and slightly more expensive) experience.
South East: Greenwich, Docklands, Canary Wharf – The Docklands and Canary Wharf areas are booming at the moment, with new housing and business popping up all over the place. There are fairly good transport links thanks to the Docklands Light Rail (DLR) and accommodation is reasonably priced. There isn’t much of a vibe in these areas though, so head to Greenwich if historical buildings and antique markets are more your cup of tea.
North: Highgate, Hampstead, Archway – These pretty Zone 2 suburbs have a village atmosphere, with leafy parks, pubs and fancy restaurants. They are quite pricey though, so you won’t find too many struggling antipodeans. These are real ‘English’ suburbs, where the likes of Jamie Oliver and Pierce Brosnan own houses, so make sure you have plenty of pounds saved before flat hunting here.
North West: Notting Hill, Willesden Green, Kilburn, Wembley, Camden – Camden and Notting Hill are the trendier suburbs in this area with bustling markets (Camden and Portobello Road), swanky restaurants and buzzing bars. You will of course pay more for living with the ‘in crowd’ in these elegant streets. For more affordable but still buzzing suburbs home to many working travellers, try Willesden Green, Kilburn and Wembley.