Which is safer in SE London? Shadwell, Stratford, NewCross/Lewisham?
July 30, 2016 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Hello. I just got confirmation from my Uni that their accommodations are setting me up with a flat in Shadwell. It was my 3rd choice and 2 trains from my college. But just reading online, I didn't realize that Shadwell doesn't have a good reputation, has had some violent crime in recent months and has some... 'Extremist' possible group activities going on there. Therefore I was wondering if anyone has any feedback, insight or experiences w/ this and these neighborhoods in the SE London/Lewisham area who can let me know which may be better options? Here is a map link to my Flat/Dorm building.

I'm American, as I'm not sure what would deem concerning, extreme behavior but I'm a petite East Asian woman... so this concerns me a bit regarding my safety? In my experience in the USA, I get stared by Middle Easterners frequently due to my disability. The school also has Housing flats right near New Cross Road (station and Uni campus) and Stratford (on Stratford High Street, near DLR). That would be great to get your feedback on those two areas as well?

Also, while I'm stuck in these 3 neighborhoods for my 1st year, I am looking to relocate to possibly a nicer and less expensive rooming situation for my 2nd year. So if you have any recommendations of neighborhoods -around- Lewisham/Greenwich area, I'd love to hear that too. I personally love Greenwich/south of Canary Wharf so would hope to find something there eventually.

Your feedback would be appreciated. Thank you!
posted by sam3cat to Society & Culture (10 answers total)
I know where the student accommodation is in Stratford, and I'd recommend that. It's very well located and the area is really nice, right in the middle of shopping and cinema and pubs/restaurants. There are large grocery shops nearby and the mall, Westfield, is right around the corner. The whole area was rebuilt for the Olympics and is now really slick and expensive.

Also, it's funny you say that about Shadwell. I'm an East Londoner and I'd consider Shadwell a place a lot of bankers and hipsters live!
posted by toerinishuman at 8:28 PM on July 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Stratford is great. I lived there for a few years (although I left some years back now). Excellent transport links, very up-and-coming area. Large Asian population, you won't stand out at all. I'd live there again in a heartbeat, if I was going back to London.

Can I make a suggestion? Go on over to mumsnet.com (don't be put off by the name), register for free, and ask there. Either on Chat, or on the Property board. It's UK-based so there are thousands of Londoners, and people are very knowledgeable. If you say you're an American looking for advice, you'll get lots of answers.
posted by Salamander at 8:33 PM on July 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

A lot of the younger people at work flat-share in Stratford, and it's definitely an up-and-coming area. It's had a gazillion pounds of investment because of the Olympics, it has a huge mall, cinemas, restaurants, etc. and a fantastic local theatre.

But it lacks character, and is really now just a series of high-rise blocks around a mall and a ringroad. It also has a bit of a 'them-and-us' vibe about it where long-time local residents feel disenfranchised. Newham (the borough in which Stratford is located) voted by a very narrow margin to remain in the EU, which is quite possibly a reflection of white, working-class dissatisfaction with the changes going on around them in relation to housing (which they can't afford) and immigration (which they resent).

If it were me, I'd choose Shadwell. A short bus ride from the centre of London, a short walk to Spitalfields, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green (hipsterville UK), and with a long-established ethnic population (albeit mostly Bangladeshi). Like Stratford, it's a mix of local residents and 'incomers', but the balance seems to me to be better in Shadwell than in Stratford.

Stratford also has its share of crime, and the area around the station is not safe at night - quite possibly because you have to walk for quite a distance from the station before you get to a street where there are any homes. In 2013 Stratford topped the list of the UK's mugging hotspots. Crime stats for both Newham and Tower Hamlets are broadly similar though.
posted by essexjan at 1:48 AM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Come here, don't be racist and you'll be fine. If you're really scared of Muslims maybe London isnt for you at all.
posted by Ted Maul at 2:33 AM on July 31, 2016 [11 favorites]

I have to come back to this because your remarks are honestly incredibly ignorant. I've lived in Stratford for about five years, around the Greenwich and New Cross area for another five, and now I'm a little closer to Shadwell, around Mile End, home of Londons Bangladeshi community.

You are not at threat from "extremism" here. London is an extremely cosmopolitan city and you are probably less likely to be stared at here than anywhere else in the uk, by anybody, for any reason. Not saying it won't happen but you are not at particular risk from "middle Eastern" people, of whom there aren't that many anyway, Unless yore just using it as a shorthand for Muslim. As a minority in this city you are at greater threat from the police.

Honestly. These people are our neighbours. In my case, they are my family. If you are going to come to our city, come with the right attitude. You will be welcome. Take sensible precautions, and you will be safe. But don't believe whatever shit you've read about "extremist" no-go areas. It's absolute nonsense.
posted by Ted Maul at 2:56 AM on July 31, 2016 [14 favorites]

I'm a white American woman who moved to the UK over twenty years ago. Cities in general here are much much safer from violent crime than cities in the US, if that's where you've been living. You can google the statistics yourself, but for me, I subjectively felt much safer in the UK.

I moved from New Orleans to Bristol.

With regard to your visible disability, I know it feels really embarrassing to be stared at (I have a funny looking eye), but I personally haven't noticed a particular ethnic group staring more at me than any other. Kids, yes!

As a foreigner I feel more comfortable knowing that most people in Bristol voted remain, but time will tell how that plays out.

Congrats on getting into uni, and welcome to the UK!
posted by mgrrl at 3:30 AM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

East London is where all the young people stay, and Shadwell is one of them.

Tobacco Dock is next to Shadwell station. Check out the events here. I'll let you make your mind up about them.
Past and Future Events at Tobacco Dock

Are you reading the Daily Mail or Telegraph by any chance? The Daily Mail is like the Fox News of the US.

Btw I'm East Asian by ancestry.
posted by moiraine at 5:19 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Shadwell is one of those areas that got pretty much flattened during WWII. The result is that there are a lot of cheap, ugly buildings there and a lot of council flats, which bring with them a lot disadvantaged people, crime and general bad vibes, as well as being generally quite ugly to look at. On the other hand London prices are through the roof now so property developers are embracing places like Shadwell as they are cheaper, so you'll see a lot of new build flats popping up and the accompanying local businesses (coffee shops, bakeries, nice pubs, etc).

I would favour New Cross/Lewisham (there is not much difference between the two areas) to Shadwell, though they aren't the nicest of areas either, there seems to be more of an integrated mix of class and culture there. However Stratford would definitely be my winner - because of the Olympics the area has been regenerated. There is an amazing shopping mall, the Olympic Park is nice to hang out in and has lots of stuff going on and the transport is great. It has a safer vibe in my opinion, though remember that crime is pretty ubiquitous in London and that it would be unwise to base your choice of area on that alone.
posted by intensitymultiply at 8:55 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Couple comments removed. Asker, I can totally understand if you're feeling frustrated at responses you've gotten, but this is not a place to fight with people; if you need to add something to clarify or elaborate on the question, that's fine, but otherwise it's basically an ask a question, get some answers, take what's useful to you from that and leave the rest alone sort of deal.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:56 AM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much Toerinishuman, Salamander, Essexjan, mgrrl, moiraine for taking the time for your responses and drawing from your own experiences in E. London. I chose @intensifymultiply for the detailed explanation/history of the town and for explaining the pros/cons of the other areas - thank you!
posted by sam3cat at 5:54 PM on July 31, 2016

« Older Why are my pans greasy?   |   What was a petrified animal doing in this tree? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.