It goes without saying that London is an enormous city. Hmm, if it goes without saying, why did I just say it? Well, perhaps it bears emphasizing when it comes to finding flats in neighborhoods that are suitable for you. It’s difficult to know where to begin when you’re moving from another country, which is why we’ve blogged a lot about different neighborhoods here and developed our downloadable Area Guide—perusing through these resources should hopefully give you a feel for where flats will meet your needs and budget.
Not surprisingly, expats tend to congregate in certain areas, and while trends can change as demographics migrate, in general, north and west London continue to be popular picks for finding flats in London.
Flats in London – The Typical Trends
For young professionals (singles and couples), the west London neighborhoods have continually been a big draw. Chelsea and South Kensington are expat and socialite meccas with their posh venues and shops and relative gentrification that keeps them looking relatively buffed and manicured. Rent is expensive where flats in London go, yet still more affordable for the middle class than their upper class neighbors in Knightsbridge, Mayfair, and Belgravia. An endearing quality about Notting Hill, in comparison, is that—though it no question boasts its own pastel-n-pretty affluence street after street—it still clings to its bohemian and arty spirit with some pockets that are a little rougher around the edges. Nonetheless, it’s undeniably gone from Indie to In-Demand and is these days arguably already moving toward In-the-Past.
That’s right—dare I say that perhaps the borough of Kensington & Chelsea is already becoming passé? It seems to be the case based on latest demand. But, regardless, having among the highest quality flats at a decent value, it’s safe to say these beautiful and fun west London neighborhoods will continue to be desirable places to live in London.
As for the north, the quiet and leafy residential areas of Hampstead, Belsize Park, and Primrose Hill give one the feeling of living in a village versus metropolis. The vast green spaces and darling cafes and boutiques have made these neighborhoods attractive to young families living in London or those seeking to escape city life while still having urban access—they come with a relatively higher price tag, however, which can be a barrier to entry and have expats looking elsewhere for flats in London.
London Relocation agents have found themselves increasingly showing flats to clients seeking a little more bang for their buck than the above areas can provide. Two neighborhoods in particular where several recent clients have been placed are Fulham and Chiswick. These haven’t typically been at the tip of the tongue of any recommender of flats. And they aren’t necessary inexpensive where flats in London go, per se, yet they offer more value and suit certain lifestyles.
Flats in London – The New Contenders: Fulham
Fulham is located west of the popular-n-posh Chelsea and attracts plenty yuppies of its own, locals and expats alike, because it’s also a nice area but more affordable than many other flats in west London. Fulham Broadway is surrounded by good restaurants, pubs, and shopping, and where entertainment is concerned, the Fulham Broadway tube station (which services the District line of the London Underground) is located beneath a large shopping centre housing a cinema, and just around the corner is the Chelsea Football Club. Some streets appear a little dodgier than others, which can give Fulham a rougher feel going toward Brompton, but residents like the color this adds in providing a refreshing alternative to the mainstream. And though fine grocery stores like Marks & Spencer’s and Waitrose can be found here, great deals and eclectic fun is to be had at the North End Road market.
If your search for flats has you dreaming of something quieter and greener away from all the football fans crowding the pubs (really, Fulham Broadway is choked with crowds on match days), the borough of Fulham also encompasses the neighborhoods of Putney and Parsons Green—their respective tube stations servicing the Wimbledon branch of the District Line are Putney Bridge and Parsons Green. These areas definitely open up into more green space and feel more like residential and family-friendly suburbs—a quaint and peaceful option for flats in London. Located along the River Thames here is the elite Hurlingham Club, which hosts the annual Polo in the Park event and has a membership waiting list of about fifteen years! Winding northwest along the river then brings you to Fulham Palace Gardens, Bishop’s Park, and—in case football (soccer) fans weren’t excited enough about Chelsea—Craven Cottage, home of the Fulham Football Club.
Flats in London – The New Contenders: Chiswick
Perhaps one of the less likely spots you’d think to search for flats would be a former fishing village that once provided a country respite from the city—Chiswick. Today, Chiswick has become higher trafficked with the addition of some big roads. Located literally around the bend (a really curvy one at that!) of the river from Fulham, Chiswick was once riverside farms and meadows and is now gentrified with a lot of shops, pubs, and restaurants—Fullers Brewery is located here, as is La Trompette, one of London’s finest Michelin-starred French restaurants. Chiswick has great appeal for young families moving to London; despite its growth in population and commerce, it still retains a village feel with large gardens and charming Arts-and-Crafts-era homes, all of which, added to its modern conveniences, makes Chiswick very family friendly.
It all goes to show that when it comes to finding ideal flats, you shouldn’t just go along with “what’s popular,” as what’s “in” seems to be making its way “out” in favor of massively underrated alternatives. Flats don’t come cheap in any neighborhood, really, but the trade-offs vary and will simply depend on what you prioritize.