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London is one of the most famous cities on the planet. And it’s easy to see why a lot of people want to live here. The city, home to over eight million people, is the second most-visited city on Earth behind Bangkok, and it’s one of the most diverse and multi-cultural places you can visit and live in. For those of us looking to make the move to the capital, one question stands out above all others: where are the best places to live in London?

When people think of London, they tend to think about Big Ben or the London Eye. It’s easy to get overawed by the city’s historic landmarks and new skyscrapers, but there’s a lot more to London than grand buildings and tourist traps. London is so large and varied that, at times, it’s like a dozen cities in one. And it’s this ever-changing variety that makes London not just one of the best places to live in the UK but also the world. For the sights and sounds of London’s different destinations, check out our (growing!) selection of area guides:

In compiling your shortlist of places to live in London, you probably want to start with the broad areas – and then narrow things down. In this case, read on, prospective Londoner! This article will take you on a whistle-stop tour North and South of the river, exploring London careers, rent, wining, dining and culture along the way.

The Big Question: North vs. South London

The rivalry between North and South of the river is long-standing and continues to this day. North London and South London could not be more different as halves of the same city. And many would argue that the Thames in fact trumps the Iron Curtain as the most fundamental societal barrier of recent times. It’s a topic of conversation in pubs and offices across the city, and both parties put forward legitimate arguments for their area being the best place to live in London.

For many people in the North, South London evokes poverty, violence and – most importantly to Londoners – poor transport links. However, to South Londoners, their area is full of green spaces, isn’t over-populated and remains ‘true’ to London: holding off the gentrification that has transformed its northern counterpart. There’s no right or wrong answer. But, so that you’ve got some ammunition in the event you find yourself in a pub brawl, you may want to have a quick look at our not-entirely-serious guide to North vs. South London.

However, classifying London on a North-vs-South basis is silly, really. Because, as every self-respecting cockney knows: there’s more than one way to crack an egg. So, what of East London vs. West London?

East London is to hipsters what the Vatican City is to the Catholic Church – simultaneously a place of pilgrimage and a city-within-a-city. The areas of Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Hackney and Bethnal Green were once commonly associated with infamous gangsters. However, they have since been overrun by craft breweries, vegan coffee shops and co-working spaces.  Not only are these areas now uber-trendy and full of people working in the creative industries, but they also house a large portion of London’s Muslim community. This makes East London home to some of the best food you’ll find in the capital. For curry lovers, East London is where you need to be, with Brick Lane (Bangladeshi) and East Ham (Sri Lankan) top of your to-do list.

When it comes to West London, it’s hard not to associate it with the London elite. Areas such as Chelsea and Kensington are bristling with money, and you’re likely to see more supercars during a walk around their streets than in the rest of your life put together. West London is home to Kensington Palace, making it an area fit for royalty, and it’s hard not to get charmed by the big town houses, beautiful parks and world-famous department stores. These parts are often seen as ‘postcard London’, and it’s the area that people most commonly associate with the capital. We’ve all heard of the American Dream… Well, West London is the London Dream.

And now, to complete our collection of compass points, we come to North and South. North London is one of London’s most popular areas, known for its fantastic transport links, trendy residents and multicultural atmosphere. Parts of North London that, until recently, were little known, such as Crouch End, are now full of independent cafes and cinemas, while Green Lanes in Haringey is to Turkish food what Savile Row is to suits. The North may be densely populated, but it encloses such sunny spots of greenery as Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill. These are among the best places to live in London for panoramic views across the city. And, what’s more, they come with a friendly, chilled-out atmosphere. For many people moving to London, the North is seen as the most complete package. But this popularity comes at a cost, namely high prices.

That leaves us with South London. Arguably London’s hidden-gem, South London remains off the tourist trail but has just as much to offer as any part of the capital. From the maritime history, ready charisma and unrivalled architecture of Greenwich, to the nightlife and Caribbean culture of Peckham, South London captures the full spectrum of London experiences, all the while remaining true to itself. Many people turn their nose up at the South. But, once they catch the bug, they tend to keep it. Especially when they consider that the best places to live in London for cheap rent, access to the countryside and green spaces are mostly here!

Careers, Rent and Cost of Living in London

When it comes to buying a house in London, London easily eclipses the rest of the United Kingdom. According to the UK government, the average house price across the country is £243,583. However, London houses are double this national average, with the average London home costing £478,853.

But, for all the high prices, booming financial centres and extravagant rooftop bars, London is also a city that suffers from extreme poverty and deprivation. In fact, the divide between rich and poor is worryingly large.

According to Trust for London, income inequality is significantly greater in London than elsewhere in England. The income of someone just inside the top 10% of London earners is eight times higher than that of someone just inside the bottom 10%. However, that said, the lowest 10% of earners within the capital have seen their wages increase since 2011, while earners in the top 10% have experienced declines.

For all this inequality – and the eye-watering prices – London still retains its aura, lure and mystique. Every year, people flock to the capital to experience everything that this magnificent city has to offer and many people find themselves never wanting to leave. London doesn’t just wow its visitors, it also constantly surprises and amazes its residents with its limitless array of things to do.

To take full advantage of what’s on offer in London, it helps to be working and earning a good salary. The capital is home to numerous industries, and millions of jobs are available to residents. If you can name it, you can probably get a job doing it in London.

London has a booming and global financial sector, unlike anything seen in any other UK city, alongside an ever-growing technology scene. The capital is also where many of the country’s largest media companies are headquartered. Plus, there’s a rapidly expanding creative scene. And, lest we ever forget, the government.

So, while the cost of living in London is sky-high, career opportunities are more extensive – and salaries much higher – than in the rest of the UK. Londoners earn over £10,000 more (on average) than people in most UK cities. According to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the median annual wage for people working in inner London is £34,473. For the rest of the UK, however, the median wage is £22,044.

Wining, Dining and Culture in the Capital

London is a city of ever-changing experiences, but it still has its timeless classics. The capital is steeped in history with plenty of places to keep you occupied, whether you live there or are just visiting. From the shops and cobbled streets of Covent Garden to the eclecticism of the British Museum, London is perfect for those annoying rainy days, and has plenty of options for warmer weather too!

It’s hardly a surprise given its cosmopolitan makeup. But, from a culinary point of view, London isn’t just one of the best places to live in the UK – it’s one of the best in the world. Whatever you’re after, London has it. Recent years have seen a boom in street food. The city is awash with food markets offering up some of the most delicious food you will eat – and it won’t break the bank. At the same time, the capital remains true to its traditional foods. Pie and Mash, next to Fish and Chips, is still a large part of any true-born Londoner’s diet.

On the world stage, cultural attractions are what makes London one of the most popular cities in the world. The museums, living history and show venues make London a melting pot, day in day out, for new ideas, new discoveries and new greatness. A day in the capital can be spent dining on some of the best food the UK has to offer in the morning, before strolling the shops of Oxford Street, taking a walk along the South Bank and then catching a play or gig in the evening at one of London’s many outstanding theatres and venues. Or, alternatively, there is nothing like a traditional London pub to soak up the atmosphere, people-watch and enjoy a pint of London Pride (once you can get your head around the price!).

But what do we think? We’ve helped thousands of customers moving home in London, so here are our buzzmove Top Picks for families, young professionals and 20-somethings …

Best Places to Live in London for Families

Enfield

Enfield sits in North London, not really bothering the rest of the capital – happy to do its own thing.

A fairly subdued area, with a village feel, its close-knit communities are a nice change from London’s more frenetic central areas. Many families move to Enfield for its impressive scenery and tranquility. Enfield Town Park is a perfect example – with sporting facilities available for kids and regular walking routes for OAPs.

Considering its proximity to Central London, living in Enfield is fairly affordable for the average family. Value for money, bigger gardens and more spacious rooms are a big plus for families moving here.

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South Woodford

You may recognise some South Woodford hotspots from the infamous TV show “The Only Way Is Essex”. But there’s more to this area than fake tans and accessorised chihuahuas.

South Woodford has recently seen an upward trend in family migration – driven by its great transport links, top-quality schools and buzzing entertainment. Situated in North East London, South Woodford represents a bit of a sweet spot: close to the centre by public transport but sufficiently far away to avoid the hustle and bustle. Check out Elmhurst Gardens for example, a park which earned the “green flag award” for being one of the best green spaces nationwide!

Though the figure is rising, house prices in the area remain relatively good value compared to to nearby areas.

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Best Places to Live in London for Young Professionals

Stratford

Good old Stratford has been the focus of much media attention in recent years. First the Westfield Stratford City shopping complex and then the 2012 Olympics. And continued investment into the area has brought with it a steady stream of young professionals and businesses.

Stratford has always been one of the best places to live in London for Canary Wharf workers. But a knock-on effect of its regeneration has been its transformation into a business hub in its own right, with an influx of companies, especially startups, seeking local talent and access to business networks.

Young professionals in Stratford benefit from ample leisure opportunities, plus great shopping and restaurant life – with a choice of cuisines swelled by the area’s new-found prosperity and cosmopolitanism.

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>>> Shoreditch

Walk through Shoreditch with a three-piece suit on and you may get a few unsavoury glances. Uttering the word ‘mainstream’ could soon be a punishable crime in this bizarre yet vibrant area.

The late 90s witnessed the resurgence of this once forgotten corner of our capital. Along came Damien Hirst, a rebirth in artistic creativity and plenty of quirky fashion. Now, Shoreditch boasts its ever popular BoxPark and, nearby, the infamous “Silicon Roundabout” – coined following the influx of tech companies into Shoreditch during the dotcom boom.

Rates for offices in the area now even rival more central areas such as Fitzrovia and Holborn. Though rent is also rising, it’s still relatively cheap for young professionals to flat-share and commute into work. So, no surprise, a lot of 20-somethings are concentrated in Central Shoreditch. And they have, on their doorstep, perhaps London’s best succession of bars, clubs and nightlife – something for every night of the week.

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Best Places to Live in London in Your 20s

>>> Camden Town

Camden Town is awash with the sights, sounds and smells from every culture imaginable. They don’t do things by the book here – and it’s precisely this contrarian spirit that makes Camden one of the best places to live in London. Some of the more notable hotspots in Camden Town catering for this crowd include:

  • Oddballs – juggling equipment specialists as well as unicycles and skateboards
  • Cyberdog – niche rave culture store which has gained a large loyal following
  • KOKO – the best in new alternative music, especially on a Saturday night

Camden Town has a thriving music scene, which has made it a popular haunt for aspiring musicians (such as the late Amy Winehouse), even if rents are rising steeply.

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Hoxton

Only in recent years has Hoxton been able to move away from the dark cloud of its past. Once known as the ghetto of East London, a bed of gang culture, iniquity and crime, its latter-day reputation marks quite a turnaround.

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Art, whether as graffiti or in cult stores, now puts Hoxton on the creative map of England. This hasn’t just made it a hub for people to express themselves but allows it them to fill their pockets too. This said, many of the best places to live in London for 20-somethings are in more unassuming parts of town, especially in less well-connected South London. If you’re just at the start of your career (as most 20-somethings are), then you may prefer squirrelling your hard-earned cash into an ISA to paying an exorbitant “coolness premium”.

~ ❤️ London ~

So there we have it. There are many great places to live in the UK, but it’s hard to argue the case against London being the best. Samuel Johnson, the famous writer and poet, once said that ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. And he couldn’t be more correct.

London has a constant stream of things to see, places to go and new experiences. There’s a saying (which we’d love to attribute to Mr Johnson but can’t) that ‘all roads lead to London’. And there’s a reason that they do. Because, despite the rising rents, the nigh-on-unaffordable cost of living and the unbearably busy trains, London is where it’s at. If you want to reach the next level – career-wise, gastronomy-wise, nightlife-wise – then the path to the greatness goes through our capital.

Planning your move to London? Then compare the best house removal companies on buzzmove. Get yourself up to 6 free quotes from trusted London movers.

 

PS. If you’re tired of the Big Smoke, then rather than looking at the best places to live in London, why not check out the best places to live in the rest of the UK. We live in a varied and vibrant country, so we’re sure you’ll find the perfect, city, town, village or farmstead for you.