Where in South East London should I live?
August 9, 2018 3:53 AM   Subscribe

Which parts of South East London should I look at living in, and which should I avoid?

For some time now I have been considering selling my West London based flat and buying in South London as it seems I may be able to get a little more for my money in certain parts and it would be better for my commute.

But the thing is I don't know SE London very well other than the area immediately around my SE London-based workplace. So I was wondering if any fellow London-based Mefites could give me some hints as to what areas in SE I should be focusing my home search on and what areas I should avoid.

These are the areas I've been thinking of looking at:
Forest Hill
Norwood Junction
New Cross
Possibly Lee

My budget's around £300k and I'd be looking for a 2 bedroom home, ideally a purpose-built flat and not a conversion. Ideally I'd also want to be conveniently located for the London Overground (ginger) line (as you can see from my list of neighbourhoods).

I can find homes for sale which meet this criteria in these areas, but I'd like to hear from you if you know these areas well. Are they safe? Would you recommend them to a single woman of colour who walks most places? How are the amenities (shops, restaurants etc)? Do they feel moribund, or up-and-coming? Are there trees/green spaces?

I'm not local to the area, and sure, I am doing my share of wandering around neighbourhoods, but there's nothing like on-the-ground local knowledge. Are there any areas I haven't listed which you feel would be worth taking a closer look at?

Anon because this is a very local question and I didn't want to compromise my anonymity.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You don't say where exactly you work in SE London, but just adding a data point for Peckham. It has a strange reputation for being simultaneously a bit rough and a bit pricey, but the truth lies somewhere in between, i.e. it's no rougher than anywhere else in SE and there are definitely some expensive streets. But judging by the popularity of the bar culture in the evenings (which means the streets are animated and not spookily empty), as well as the good community feel during the day, I would personally say it's safe. The usual big city awareness applies though. There are lovely shops, bars, restaurants, good parks, great transport links. Downside is that c£300k is on the low side for a two bedder (unless you're willing to consider purpose-built, ex local authority, eg).
posted by srednivashtar at 10:55 AM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Forest hill is extremely quiet, leafy and green. It’s got shops, but it doesn’t feel bustling or trendy. This may be good or bad depending on your point of view. I feel safe walking about there as a young white woman. It’s quite hilly which is good for views, less good for walking to the overground. It feels like an enclave but close enough to more happening areas to not be isolated.
posted by mymbleth at 1:49 PM on August 9, 2018

I live in Forest Hill. Moved here from Hackney 6 years ago and fell, irrevocably, in love with the place. It makes my heart sing for so many reasons, except, alas, the fact that I still cannot afford to buy a flat here. I love it so much I've reconciled myself to renting for ever. It's that ace. For £300k you will probably be looking a bit further out to the Penge-end of Sydenham definitely but also bits of Crystal Palace.

Sadly I think Peckham too will be out price-wise, but edges of Nunhead might be worth a look, although likely to be ex-local authority. Some bits of Ladywell and Croften Park are still affordable but transport can be an issue.

Message me if you have specific questions. I'm an SE evangelist!
posted by freya_lamb at 2:14 PM on August 9, 2018

Forest Hill is lovely and hands down the nicest, quietest, safest place on your list. It's also the priciest and will cost more to live in Forest Hill proper. In the past several years it's just gotten nicer and more expensive. The Horniman Museum and Gardens are there as well as lots of other green space.

I think Penge is the worst place on your list. I know people who love it but they grew up there and haven't ever lived anywhere else. While it isn't as bad as it used to be, I still do not feel safe there at night and have had a few scary experiences with young men cornering me and harassing me, usually at night but also during the day. It's not safe to walk through the park at night. There are some pubs there that I wouldn't set foot in (i.e. fights break out in them regularly) but also a really nice pub or two. They do have some lovely (from the outside anyway, no idea about the inside) old almshouses that have been converted into flats.

New Cross has a good mix of things. It has the most going on in terms of shops, restaurants, pubs, venues with live music etc and really good transport links to the city and North London. Sometimes it seems a bit bleak right around the station itself but I haven't felt unsafe there.

Crystal Palace is quite nice, is up-and-coming and has some beautiful areas, but those might be a bit out of the way if you're walking everywhere.
posted by Polychrome at 3:33 PM on August 9, 2018

I used to get the train home to Lee sometimes when I lived in the Lee end of Blackheath. Always felt safe walking home, but there's not really a centre to Lee itself, Lee Green on the way to Blackheath has a bit more to it.
posted by kitten magic at 10:42 PM on August 9, 2018

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