The best areas to live in London

London is quite a complicated place. Most cities around the world have developed according to some kind of plan with (broadly speaking) rents decreasing as you get further from the commercial centre. While, at the very highest level, this is true for London the pattern is disturbed by an almost random smattering of prestigious enclaves further out and neglected and unattractive neighbourhoods near the centre.

The reason is that London is in fact a series of towns and villages in the old county of Middlesex which have been gobbled up by London as it grew from its ancient centre around the hill on which St Paul’s now sits.

This makes finding the perfect part of London for you quite difficult but its also what makes London so amazing. For example, while one would not have this problem in a north American city like Chicago, where the distribution of the real estate is very logical and functional, it’s simply not as intensely charismatic as London.

So where are the best areas to live in London? Well in one sense the answer to this question is easy - just rank areas based on average rents. Rent levels are essentially determined by desirability so the places with the highest rents must be the best right? There are two problems with this approach; firstly (and most obviously) you probably can’t afford to live in the most expensive places but secondly and more importantly a more expensive area is not necessarily better for you just because it’s more expensive.

The best example of this is prime central London. Prime London real estate generally centres on Hyde Park with Bayswater to the north, Mayfair to the east, Kensington to the West and Knightsbridge to the south. The parts of London touching the park really are the epicentre of capital value and rents, not only in London but for the whole world in a sense. The reason that people regard Hyde Park as the most important thing to live near is threefold - its connection with royalty, its implied similarity with Central Park in NYC and it’s place in history. All of these have conspired to create a virtuous circle of development, cultural stimuli and inward investment from the UK and the international sphere.

But for most people - certainly most of our lovely Rentonomy users - Hyde Park is not the right place for them. The international super rich are told that’s the place to be so they go there. For young working Londoners with a real stake in the city the best place for them is almost certainly somewhere else. This isn’t just because they’re not rich but rather because they are real Londoners.

For all of these reasons and more we created our famous “Where to Live in London” tool. This tool puts you at the centre of London and displays all 200+ areas in order of how appropriate they are for you. We ask what you love, what you hate and what sort of person you want to be. While we do ask what you earn we don’t make affordability a massive issue. The reason is that you may want to live in a shoe-box sized apartment near the centre or demand a large home where ever it may be. This tool finds the area - to find the perfect property you’ll need to use our full Matchmaker Search which is a bespoke rental property search in London.

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London is a collection of over 200 villages each with its own personality and one of them is perfect for you. Our app will match you with your top 5 areas based on who you are, what you like and what you don’t like.

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But just so you don’t feel this article is a total cop out, let’s name some actual areas which we think might be the best for some people. Back in October 2013 we created an infographic which sought to identify the cheapest and best places to live in London. We created a weighted model which ranked each area according to how well-served they were by things like shops, pubs, schools etc but but loads of weight on travel time to central London and rent levels (the lower the better in both cases). This analysis put Whitechapel E1 at the top shortly followed by Walworth and Dalston. This plays out in reality - these areas are indeed the areas of choice for London’s most trendy and artistic residents.

A lot of our users showed a particular interest in south east London so we decided to repeat the analysis just for the south east. The big winner here was New Cross which was music to the ears of Goldsmiths University, the areas local intellectual hub. This was shortly followed by Walworth, home of Charlie Chaplain and West Norwood - home of Ken Livingston.

Still the best areas to live in London are different for everyone and there’s no right answer. So to find the best are for you use Rentonomy’s matchmaker search or Where to live in London and you’ll be in the right place in no time. You’ll be thankful if you’re new to the city and for the veteran London - you be surprised what we tell you and we could make your London experience even better.

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