Where should we (young family) move to in London?
May 16, 2014 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Us: nice young couple with an infant. Seeking to try out a London neighborhood for a year, and then maybe buy (if the potential bubble doesn't scare us off). Budget for a flat/house would be about 650,000 to 700,000 pounds (maybe a little wiggle room).

Hi! We are moving to London, which we sort of know, but not very well. We're coming with our young child (less than a year old), and hope to rent first to try out a neighborhood before we buy. I don't have a job yet, but my partner is working very centrally near the Strand. Visa stuff all taken care of.

Here's what we hopefully are looking for: good commute to center of the city (overground or buses are probably okay -- doesn't necessarily have to be Tube), some young families, maybe a park close by. We generally haven't lived in typical "middle class" neighborhoods, so it would be great to be in a diverse area with a lot going on, even if it's a bit rough in parts. Not afraid of council estates. Nothing too suburban or far out.

We'd love to buy a 2 or 3 bedroom place in a year or so on a budget of 700,000 pounds or so, which sounds like a lot of money, but seems not in London. This budget seems especially tricky seeing as we are committed to state schools down the line, and want to buy near a good primary school at least.

So ideally, a neighborhood that is up and coming, perhaps, and not so overpriced yet (and thus not so vulnerable to a bubble)? And with decent schools (or schools becoming better) that we might be able to buy in the catchment area of in our budget?

Would love any and all thoughts on what neighborhood we should test out!
posted by EtTuHealy to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Welcome to London! We are in Hanwell in the borough of Ealing, and it meets all of your criteria - 15 mins to Paddington on the overground from Hanwell station with the Piccadilly, Central and District lines a short bus ride away. A beautiful park with an animal centre (Brent Lodge Park), and the Brent River and Grand Union Canal so you can literally walk for miles in green space. Right between the A40 and A4 major roads in case you do end up with a car. Large three-bedroom Victorian terrace houses are around £550k, but many have loft conversions to four or five bedrooms for another £50 to 100k. Cute local shops and Ealing Broadway, Greenford and Hayes shopping districts very close by. A very diverse area with a good mix of people from everywhere and a strong Polish community in particular. Schools are on the good side for the borough, and there is a primary campus of the very well-renowned Lysee if French immersion school is tempting (my girl is three and as strongly committed as I am to public education it is attractive!).

😅Another option is Northfields which is lovely, with similar amenities but trendier and a bit pricier - you will get less house and garden for your money.

Sorry for no links I am on a new phone and still working it out.
posted by goo at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2014

I'd investigate Putney. You'll find plenty of homes in your price range, as well as an Underground link that will take your husband within a few blocks of work. There's plenty of green space in the form of the Putney Heath (which elides into Wimbledon Common), as well as great river access with tennis courts and rowing clubs. Good access to shopping and very decent schools. It also meets your diversity criterion quite nicely. Frankly, it's a great part of London.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:48 PM on May 16, 2014

I've just moved to Walthamstow. Good access to the centre on the Victoria line and national rail into Liverpool Street.

Very diverse, good sense of community feeling, "up and coming" area etc.

Might be worth checking out.
posted by knapah at 2:40 PM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I live in South Wimbledon about a mile from the Common (all uphill :/) and five minutes from Dundonald Park. Loads of infant / reception schools within walking distance. It's 45mins into town whether you choose the Northern Line (to Charing X), the District Line to Embankment, or the overline to Waterloo (currently 10p cheaper than the underground). The one-bed below me just sold at around 250K so you'd certainly get something good with the amount of money you have to hand.

The council rates are reasonable and the council themselves seem to be very supportive. Council tax got frozen here this year.

Downside is that it's probably not particularly up and coming; I imagine it's been like this since forever. But the people are nice, the shops are decent, there's a theatre and big cinema. It's a place where you can walk down the road and hear a kid's brass band play in the junior school down the road.

And if your husband fancies a bit of exercise after a day at work, the walk from the Strand to Green Park, through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and down to Earl's Court (District Line) is a good 4 mile stroll.

There's also the fun tram which takes you to IKEA (good), but also to Croydon (somewhat bad).

Best of luck with your hunt.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:04 PM on May 16, 2014

Ealing-esp Northfields-so many beautiful parks and so many children-lovely atmosphere, good tube and shops.
posted by claptrap at 1:02 AM on May 17, 2014

Try SE15, particularly Peckham and Nunhead. A few years ago your budget would have been more than ample but we're in the midst of a mini-boom right now but there are still bargains to be had. The mainline station is on the Overground, buses go everywhere and there are good schools, great parks, etc. I think it's unlikely that prices will ever attain the heights of neighbouring areas as the housing stock is mostly mid-sized 2-3 bed terraces, so there's a natural ceiling.
posted by srednivashtar at 1:05 AM on May 17, 2014

A quick skim of rightmove suggests that your budget is above what would be needed for a 2 to 3 bed in Walthamstow. It's more in the 4-5 bedroom range.
posted by knapah at 2:49 AM on May 18, 2014

Thanks everyone! We will check out all of these spots (several I didn't know about before) and will try to update once we decide!
posted by EtTuHealy at 2:20 PM on May 18, 2014

The Guardian on Walthamstow. They do a Let's move to... series with capsule guides to various UK areas, including many in London, with prices, schools and travel info. Here's Ealing. Note that London being London a lot of the prices will be long out of date, even if you're reading something written only a few months ago.
posted by permafrost at 5:16 AM on May 19, 2014

You might also want to consider SE16 - it's very central (Bermondsey tube is one stop away from London Bridge), walking distance to a primary school with "Outstanding" Ofsted rating, close to the Maltby St market where all the foodie shops that got priced out of Borough Market are ending up, and still reasonably affordable.
posted by doop at 3:01 PM on May 19, 2014

Good schools and green spaces are probably going to be found in what you call typically middle-class neighbourhoods, so you may have to make a choice.

For your budget, there are probably going to be quite a few options available. Apart from areas that have already been mentioned there is a series of places on the Northern line - Clapham, Balham, Tooting. They get cheaper and less middle class the further out you go, and you'd have access to Clapham Common or Tooting Common. The tube journey to the Strand area (e.g. Embankment) would take around 25 minutes, which is about as good as you're going to get I'd think.

Clapham has more "young professional" stuff going on while Tooting has big ethnic communities, esp South Asian. Balham is in between, demographically and culturally as it is geographically.
posted by philipy at 10:45 AM on May 20, 2014

Somewhere else to consider is Acton. I didn't think of it previously because I worked there for 10 years, and lived there for three, and it has a *reputation*, but it meets your criteria and is actually quite ok. There are parts of it that are super dodgy, like the South Acton estate and the tower blocks around the police station, but the council has pumped money into regeneration and there are some nice new build flats available that are well within your price range. Acton is big, and most of it is in zone 2 on the Piccadilly, District and Central tube lines and on the north London overground line to Richmond or Stratford. There will also be a Crossrail station at North Acton in the next few years.

I'd look at the areas south of Acton Vale (Southfields in particular), which is walking distance to Chiswick, and also the new/ regenerated parts of South Acton off Bollo Bridge Road. The really nice parts are just north of Acton Vale near Acton Park - Shaa Road, Churchfield Road and Bromyard Avenue, but these may be outside your price range. Acton High Street is interesting... I worked in the Town Hall for 10 years and we had a saying "NFA, normal for Acton" because there was always something freaky happening on the High Street. Churchfield Road has some lovely shops. Acton Park itself is lovely, has a great playground and cafe and excellent nurseries nearby, but isn't large. Gunnersbury Park isn't far away and is enormous and has a listed historic building that operates as a museum.

West Acton is a mock Tudor estate, and north Acton (around Horn Lane) is pretty grimy although there are some lovely bits around Creswick Road and it becomes quite industrial around North Acton station. I lived in Bromyard House for three years which is an amazing, historic building in which you will probably find flats in your price range, but it's a gated community-type situation which I didn't really like but has lots of facilities for families (such as lovely courtyards, fountains and a playground).

Shepherd's Bush and Ealing Broadway are very close by, and Chiswick is walking distance or a short bus ride away from the southern parts of Acton. The schools are quite good, although I think they have all become academies which is unfortunate but the way things are going now in London.

Anyway, another place to consider if you are thinking about west London!
posted by goo at 7:34 PM on July 2, 2014

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