Where are the cheapest places to live in London?

Rents in London are some of the highest in the world. For that reason its hardly surprising that many young people moving to London have to search for the cheapest place to live in order to stand any chance of being able to move there.

Broadly speaking rents in London are lower further from the centre, as is the case with most cities. However due to the way the city has evolved there are a few pockets of affordability closer to the centre. These pockets are particularly important for the maintaining the vibrance of London and underpin its global brand.

These areas are important if you are a family trying to afford renting in London or are looking for the cheapest place to live in London as a student.

This is because they attract young creative types form all over the world who come together to form creative hubs which massively enhance the cultural output of the city.

Typically, these creative hubs are characterised by being both relatively affordable and physically close to the centre of the city. In order to remain affordable they are usually sites of inner city decay, relatively shabby housing stock and poorly connected to transport infrastructure. The areas are usually initially colonised by pioneers who are followed by influential early adopters who usher in a golden age. In the case of London, an ever changing city, it is at this point that the clock starts ticking. Soon enough the area will become so popular that two self-supporting things will happen. First of all demand will go up and rents will start to rise. Secondly the local authorities will see that large numbers of people are living in a poorly connected are and enhance public transport, compounding rent and price rises. Creatives, who typically earn less than those working in finance are priced out and need to find somewhere else to live and the search is on for the next generation of pioneers. Pricing out creatives can be very dangerous for any city including London, a case we have made in our article Destroy Old Street Tube Station to Save London!

Relatively cheap rents and can take residents into the City via Elephant and Castle

So in this example is obviously based around Dalston and Shoreditch which were the creative hubs but are now regarded as too expensive to support a community of creatives. As a result the search is on for the next cheapest area of London where people actually want to live (i.e. not on the outskirts of the metropolitan area). So which are the candidates? Well over the years we’ve take a look at a few. In November 2013 we released some analysis which showed the 10 cheapest areas to live within 10 minutes of central London. Topping the chart was Walworth, SE17 which has relatively cheap rents and can take residents into the City via Elephant and Castle train station in just 3 minutes. The area has a lot to recommend it, not least for it being the childhood home of Charlie Chaplain - a fact alluded to in the name of many of the areas cafes roads and shops. Canary Wharf was on the list because of the proximity of central London and some of the poorer quality housing stock to the north of E14 does have relatively attractive rents. Yet because the identity ad brand of Canary Wharf is so intertwined with massive scale regeneration (in the 80’s and 90’s) and well as boring city types, we don’t think its a likely home for the next generation of creatives.


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Other more likely candidates are Brixton and Peckham. Now we’re no saying Brixton is a yet-to-be discovered creative hub. It’s deep into a process of wholesale gentrification. Many tensions have arisen as a result of this, best exemplified by the “Yuppies Out” protests which took place when the fancy wine bar Champagne and Fromage arrived. Yet the very fact that gentrification was met with this sort of resistance hints that the creative spirit of the area is well and truly alive. Peckham is a different proposition to Brixton. Firstly it much, much less well connected. Brixton is on the Victoria line, one of the most convenient lines to live on. Peckham on the other hand is connected by train and has only recently been incorporated into the overland network. Still rents in Peckham are actually very affordable and there is already a genuine colony of creatives already living there.

In the north, west and south of London it certainly gets cheaper.

So our tip for the cheapest and coolest area is probably Peckham, but there are as many tips as there are areas. Whichever opinion you take, just remember that a lot of “up and coming areas” are only up and coming according to high street agents who are trying to sell properties there.

If you don’t care so much about trendiness and are simply looking for the cheapest area of London to live, then obviously look towards the outskirts and towards the east. In the north, west and south of London it certainly gets cheaper as you get further form the centre but there are expensive pockets which take advantage of the city breaking into open countryside of the home counties. The east however tends to be solidly affordable across the board, with rents progressively lower the further you are out. For anyone interested in historical geography, the reason for this is the prevailing winds blow pollution to the east which obviously had a strong impact on development since the industrial revolution. That’s when in western European cities the east side of cities is usually less expensive than the west.


where to live in London map

Want to find where to live in London?

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.

Learn more
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