As an American living to London, there are certain aspects of the US suburbs that I miss. Sure, I’m ecstatic to be living in a city again after very much missing my city-of-Chicago years, but perhaps if you’re researching London neighborhoods for where to live in London yourself, you might consider going less urban. For today’s A to Z Blogging Challenge, I’d like to present:

“R” is for RICHMOND!

I don’t think I’ve written much yet on this London neighborhood, and bear in mind that by “Richmond,” I’m also referring to neighboring areas generally in that western stretch of the River Thames, like Twickenham. The Thames, you see, snakes its way through central London, giving the cityfolk that refreshing glimpse of nature among man-made buildings and pavements. And even where I live in west London—among the neighborhoods most popular among American expats in England’s capital city—there are glorious bursts of green everywhere, compliments of communal gardens and parks like Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, and Holland Park. But the area that really reminds me so much of the suburbs where I lived before moving to London from the US is, obviously, Richmond.

When you step out of the Richmond station, you’re greeted by the usual high street shops you see in central London (reminding that you’re still close to everything you need), but they wrap around along more intimate streets until leading you to Richmond’s riverside. Some favorite venues of mine along here are The White Cross pub (I love how it has a designated door for if/when the water level rises and blocks the regular entrance), Gaucho (yes, this Argentinian steakhouse chain is all over London, but this is such a pretty freestanding one), and Stein’s (a Bavarian biergarten serving up sausages, pretzels, and sauerkraut to wash down with a weissbier or Radler from a massive stein, Munich-style). On gorgeous days like the ones we’ve been enjoying (it’s in the 70s!), you’ll see people reclining on tiers of grassy plots between the steps leading down to the river, like something Seurat would have painted, or up and about along the riverfront path and over the bridge that takes you to Richmond Road on the opposite side.

Before crossing that bridge, though, the Thames makes some crazy maneuvers through the landscape, so the parks that are technically on the south and west side of it include the amazing blooms of Kew Gardens (the Kew stop comes just before Richmond on the westbound District Line tube train), the small but historically cool Richmond Green that resembles a campus quadrangle and was once used for medieval jousting, and the positively enormous Richmond Park—at 2,500 acres, this is the largest of the Royal Parks and home of well over 600 deer! And if you’re looking for a smaller yet incredibly charming park to play sports or relax with a picnic blanket and bottle of wine, Marble Hill Park is my latest discovery on the river’s other side as of last weekend. Standing prominent at its center, Marble Hill House (pictured left) was the home of King George II’s mistress, Henrietta Howard, and its Georgian architecture will have you feeling right inside a Jane Austen novel. Sit here peacefully and watch the crew boats glide by…

I recommend the Richmond area as one of the best places for families to live in London given its residential peace and recreational possibilities and encourage you to consider it when you search for flats to rent.