The coolest spots to house hunt in the East End of London
Guest post by Mike James
Once considered the underbelly of the city, the eclectic, buzzing vibe of East London is now a veritable haven for anyone seeking a vibrant alternative to the manicured, docile streets of the city’s aristocratic Northwest.
The East London scene oozes with character, and the various locales are packed with sprawling markets, pop-up venues and offbeat eateries, enjoyed by hipsters, creatives and eccentrics from all walks of life. Areas like Tower Hamlets, Barking, and Hackney offer London-dwellers a different kind of lifestyle, and the ingrained diversity brings a pace and atmosphere that is difficult to find elsewhere.
Established trendsetter haunts like Hackney and Shoreditch have undergone significant gentrification since their bohemian heyday (which is reflected in the local property price tags), but a bit of hunting can still unearth a bargain in some of the fringe boroughs. Don’t wait too long though – prices are creeping up as more renters, buyers and investors latch on to these corners of cool.
We’ve used residents, the experts who conduct property valuations for London homes, and our own personal experiences to put together the coolest spots to house hunt in the East End of London.
Earlier this year the Sunday Times crowned Peckham as the best place to live in London. Once known for its rougher reputation, the area has seen considerable investment and regeneration since the 1990s, and, has fast replaced Shoreditch and Hackney as the hipster hotspot of London.
Peckham teems with diversity, and is considered one of the most multi-cultural places in the UK. The main benefit of this is that when you get fed up of brunching on avocado smash, you can choose from a rich supply of Italian, Persian, Spanish and Afro-Caribbean cuisine, as your palette desires.
House prices still seem somewhat reasonable compared to the rest of the city too, with the average flat selling for less than £400,000. While this doesn’t necessarily qualify it as “affordable”, a home here certainly won’t set you back as far as it might elsewhere in Zone 2.
Walthamstow is another contender for London’s coolest place to set up shop, and its position at the end of the Victoria line makes it a cinch to reach the heart of the city in about 20 minutes, despite starting in Zone 3.
On the scale between the infamous glow of God’s Own Junkyard and the classic beauty of the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow has something to appeal to everyone’s tastes, no matter how (un)refined. Bric-a-brac addicts will relish the Walthamstow Market, while young families can benefit from being in the catchment areas of two “outstanding” primary schools, according to their latest Ofsted reports.
If Walthamstow piques your interest then you’d better get in there quick – a recent report has shown that houses prices have more than doubled in the last five years (101%), despite average values in London growing only 38% in the same period.
Yes, prices have soared – seemingly in direct correlation to the number of bohemian coffee shops and artisanal burger outlets opening along the Shoreditch streets – but it remains one of the most creative and lively parts of the city. The local housing stock is delightfully varied, and with a bit of patience you can find some real gems, like loft-style apartments leftover from the area’s industrial history.
We’re not kidding about those burgers, either; between Old Street tube station (Zone 1) and the Shoreditch High Street Overground stop, you can find a joint for even the most discerning patty aficionados. We’re talking Honest Burgers, Haché Burgers, Byron, Dirty burger and MEATmission (among others) within a single square mile.
If the seal of approval from the UK’s trendiest chain restaurants isn’t enough, then wash those dinners down with a drink at one of the many quirky bars on Old Street or Shoreditch High Street. Still not sold? Admittedly the area is now firmly on the mainstream radar, and won’t necessarily suit those looking to live on the bleeding-edge of cool.
Just to the northeast of Shoreditch is Haggerston, which seems to have been slightly overlooked by the swathes of trendsetters desperate to live near Old Street. It’s about fifteen minutes’ walk from the leafy green of Haggerston park to the Shoreditch triangle, and a similar distance to Hoxton.
That’s not to say that you need to leave Haggerston to enjoy yourself – you can still get a delightful brunch without going too far afield, but when you tire from the graffiti-emblazoned walls of the neighbourhood, the nearby Victoria park offers the perfect escape.
Its relaxed, everyday atmosphere is pretty far from the upscale ambience of nearby Canonbury, so if you’re looking for a home somewhere on the climb, you might not quite be ready for Haggerston. However, if you’re keen to get in early then you’ll be pleased to know that property prices are currently sitting around 26% below the city average.
Whichever part of London calls out to you, remember to do your research, absorb the local area and be savvy when it comes to the property market. A home in the capital might be costly, but with the right information it will be an investment you’ll be pleased with for years to come.