If you’re moving to London and you’re not in line to inherit an oil field, the first question on your lips might well be: is there anywhere around here I can actually afford?
Luckily, London is a big, big place, and there are still some boroughs where it’s possible to pick up a bargain when it comes to rent.
Of course, it’s all relative – London’s the priciest city in the world and you’re unlikely to find anywhere in the capital for proper peanuts – but there are a few places left that won’t totally break the bank.
Waltham Forest (£435/pcm)
Way out East, Waltham Forest takes the crown for the very cheapest place to live in London. Unsurprisingly, it’s not the most glamorous location – but over the past few years, the local council has tried pretty hard to give the area a rebrand, with mixed success. Hipster-bar-packed Walthamstow is popular with broke students and artists (it’s been hailed as “the new Dalston”), there’s a great William Morris gallery, and Epping Forest itself is gorgeous. Watch out, though: the borough’s reputation as comparatively affordable has led to a bit of a rush for cheap housing, and prices are *sigh* already going up.
With its high crime rates, notorious deprivation and sky-high rate of child poverty, Haringey is, to be frank, a far stretch from many people’s vision of high end London living. But look past the negative press and there’s plenty of charm tucked away in this borough. Green Lanes has a strong Turkish-Cypriot influence and is one of the best places to grab a coffee and baklava or to pick up traditional treats like haloumi, hummus and fresh figs from the local supermarkets. Transport links to Manor House and Wood Green are decent, and as you get closer to Hackney and Stoke Newington, the nightlife gets more and more vibrant, too.
Again, we can’t sugar-coat it: Lewisham didn’t get its label of murder capital of the UK for nothing. At the same time, plenty of locals point out that there’s a lovely side to the area, and this is certainly a part of South London that’s rich in history. Most people living there are in their ‘20s, so it’s got a pretty youthful vibe, as well as great markets, as a strong Caribbean identity and a cool nightlife centred in student-and-hipster-saturated New Cross.
Sutton might only be a short hop on the train from Victoria Station, but its upmarket village-y atmosphere means that this pretty, park-strewn piece of suburbia feels like a world away from the big smoke. Its reputation as a family-friendly idyll means it’s rarely top choice for students, grads and 20-somethings seeking city thrills, but it does mean you’re very unlikely to get mugged.
Barking and Dagenham (£605/pcm)
Is Barking really London? I mean, officially: yes, that’s where your Council Tax goes if you live there. But if we’re being totally honest, it’s so far out of the centre that, geographically and culturally, you’re really living in Essex. Even the locals agree. Plus, it’s the worst place to live in the entire country, apparently. On the plus side, you can get to Liverpool Street on the tube in about half an hour, so it is possible to escape.
Do you live in one of the places on this list? Think we’ve got things all wrong (or right)? Let us know your top tips and local secrets below!