Hi guys! Today's post is one that I have thought about doing quite a lot. I've had a number of emails from girls who are moving to London asking for my advice on different areas. Now I've moved out of London after living there for 3 years, I thought it might be a good idea to type up a post about my experiences. Obviously this is completely objective and based solely on my own time in London - London is a big place and there are so many lovely places you could make your home!
Finsbury Park was the first area I lived in when I moved to London. Although I knew a few people who lived south of the river, for whatever reason my friend and I decided against that and pinned down some areas in north London instead. We ended up in Finsbury Park because it was a short Picaddily Line tube ride away from Holborn, where we were studying, and because it seemed like a really good compromise between being in a suburb but still accessible for central London!
There are loads of buses which serve Finsbury Park, including a number of night buses which are easy to get to. I used to get the nightbus home from Trafalgar Square and Clapham a lot, and found the night buses brilliant. Finsbury Park also has Piccadilly Line and the Victoria Line links - it's less than 10 minutes away from Kings Cross by tube or overground which is handy if you're a Northerner with friends visiting. There's also Arsenal which is a smaller Piccadilly Line station that was closer to my house. In terms of distance to central London, it's definitely walkable which is something I did during tube strikes (just over an hour's walk to Holborn).
Finsbury Park, the namesake of the area, is a lovely wide open green park which is an amazing resource to have on your doorstep - especially if you're a newbie to London who likes a bit of calm! Handily there is a big Sainsburys about 15 minutes walk from Finsbury Park (or you can get the bus if you have a lot of shopping), located at Haringey Green Lanes. Overall I found the area and street I lived on to be a really nice place to live, but like most areas of London there are some dodgy bits and places you'd want to avoid if you're alone and it's late at night. It's not an extremely popular area with young people in comparison to other places in North London, like Camden, but it is more affordable. There is a mix of people, including a lot of middle class families.
I paid £650 per month for my (tiny) room in a (tiny) 2 bedroom flat, sharing with another person, in a Victorian terraced house. Our flat was a bit of a dump but we paid to be in a really nice street - a compromise we were willing to make because of the close transport links.
I moved to Kennington a year after starting out in London, when we looked at a number of areas south of the river including Brixton and Clapham. Kennington is a really good place to live if you're not a student but still want to be close to busier places because it's so easy to get everywhere!
Kennington is served by some good bus routes, including direct buses into central London and to King's Cross, as well as buses taking you to Brixton and Clapham in less than 15 minutes. There are Northern Line underground stations at Oval and Kennington which can whisk you to Clapham Common for a night out in a few minutes, or you can walk 10 minutes down the road to get the Victoria Line from Stockwell tube station. This is what I did to get into Chancery Lane for work (I changed at Oxford St for the Central Line) because it's a nicer line than the Northern Line and is super fast!
Kennington is a really really nice neighbourhood, and there are a lot of good local shops including off licences and takeaway shops, as well as more upmarket delis and coffee shops. Again there's a big Sainsburys (in Vauxhall) about 15 minutes walk away, which is handy for big food shopping trips. Kennington is incredibly popular with twenty-something young professionals because it's very close to central London but also within spitting distance of social hot spots like Brixton and Clapham. I really enjoyed living here.
I paid £700 for my (huge!) room, sharing with another person in a gorgeous spacious two bedroom flat in a Victorian terraced house. Our flat was lovely and big, and my bedroom was ridiculously large but it was quite chilly in the winter!
Camberwell was the last place I lived in London, and by far my most favourite place and where I felt most at home. It's definitely an underrated area but very close to the trendy, popular and expensive suburb of East Dulwish but at the same time equidistant from the somewhat notorious Peckham. I will always have a special place in my heart for Camberwell.
Camberwell has really good connections to pretty much everywhere in London via the overground or regular rail network at Denmark Hill or Peckham Rye stations. Taking a regular train to City Thameslink station in 13 minutes instead of cramming on to a rush hour tube to get to work was a revelation for me, and I never looked back! There are surprisingly good buses serving the area, especially from Camberwell High Street and Peckham High Street. It's close by to Elephant and Castle (one stop on the train or a short bus ride) which is a real hotspot for transport and really useful to have nearby.
Camberwell as a whole is a bit hit and miss but if you have a wander around you will soon suss out the nicer streets, which can be really special! A notable Camberwell resident is the gorgeous Florence Welch! There are a great deal of trendy young people in Camberwell, mainly because of the art college and its arty, bohemian credentials but because it's close by to Peckham there are some gritter, 'real' places too. I loved that mix, it gives the area a really interesting personality. There are some really beautiful tree lined streets and gorgeous parks. Add to that a nice amount of convenience stores, pubs and takeaways and you have a really great place to live in your twenties. There are buses to take you to Brixton or you can hop on a train and be in Clapham in about 5 minutes, which is handy for nights out. Clapham Junction is an overground train away, making Camberwell a well linked place for getting pretty much anywhere in or out of London. Of course I have to identify the closest Sainsburys, which is about 10 minutes walk on Dog Kennel Hill in East Dulwich.
I paid £1200 for a gorgeous 1 bedroom flat which had been developed less than a year before I moved in (the building was formerly a pub and just stunning). Hands down my favourite home in London, it was on a totally different scale to anywhere else I've ever lived!
So there you have it, my experiences of 3 different areas of London. I hope this is useful to anyone moving or considering moving to the big smoke - if you have any questions or need some advice please do get in touch in the Comments, via Twitter (@ElspethDaisy) or drop me an email!