A by-word for finance, epic skyscrapers and glamorous professional pursuits, the square-mile City of London has grown from a Roman settlement in 47AD to a major international centre for business. But all these towers and offices would be useless if it were't for the nearly 500,000 people working there across various sectors in business, law, finance and commerce.
However, as a result of being so densely packed with all these office buildings, there are very few people who actually live in the city due to the lack of residential buildings (although when it comes to being a banking intern, you might as well live in the office!) and the eerily quiet atmosphere on Saturdays and Sundays. As a result, these hundreds of thousands of city workers need to live somewhere - be it where they can walk to work, enjoy a great night out on those rare free weekends, or bring up a family with more space than can usually be found inside Zone 2. Check out our recommendations on the top areas to live for commuting into the city and the average journey time, and start your property hunt with the Movebubble app today!
Top areas to live for commuting into London…and walking to work
It’s a privilege rarely found in London due to the enormous expanse of the city, but for a fortunate few it’s actually possible to walk to work. Imagine the thought - no crammed tubes, busy buses or inevitable traffic delays as you stroll through the streets with a clear head ready to start the day with a smile. Plus, although these areas close to the city can be quite pricey, all the money you save on that monthly Oyster card can go towards your rent instead!
Located to the north of the City in the Borough of Hackey, Shoreditch has become a by-word for hipster London in the last decade as young creative Londoners flocked here in the 1990s, quickly followed by a flood of quirky bars, cool restaurants and galleries. As rents rose many of the people who transformed Shoreditch moved further East, and successful media types and City workers then moved in to the warehouse-style apartments in converted commercial buildings, and shiny modern developments with epic views.
There’s plenty to see and do here, from Michelin-starred dining and award-winning restaurants such as Duck and Waffle to speak-easy bars and rooftop swimming at Shoreditch House (if you can wangle a membership that is). The bad news is that rent has risen by a staggering 46% here in just three years, with the average rental price for a two-bedroom apartment now at £3,100 per month - although if you search hard enough, similar properties can be found from around £1600. For more info on this great area, check out our Shoreditch London Guide.
Commute: 15-20 minute walk into the City
It may have divided architects for decades with it’s iconic Brutalist design, but there’s no denying that the Barbican is one of the most interesting and architecturally stunning parts of London - even if you do prefer Georgian terraces to concrete slabs. Originally built in 1960s, modern apartments dominate the market here although if you’re missing a taste of London’s history, the renowned Museum of London is just next door.
Aside from living in an iconic location, residents benefit from being right in the middle of the action with all the commerce of the City nearby, the restaurants and bars of Farringdon, and the cultural attractions of the Barbican development itself which includes a cinema, a theatre and a concert hall. As you’d expect from an area which such architectural significance the rents are rather high, with the average rental price for a two-bedroom apartment now at £2900, although similar properties can be found starting at £2100 per month.
Commute: 10 minute walk into the City
Top areas to live for commuting into the City…and enjoying busy social life
Just because you work long hours in the City doesn’t mean you don’t want to let your hair down on the weekend and those rare early evenings! Make the most of that precious time off by living in a buzzing area with thriving bars, restaurants and clubs which also benefits from a quick commute into the City. Office to a cocktail bar via home in around 30 minutes? Sounds good to us.
Formerly seedy, packed with sex shops and a little suspect, Soho has transformed into the life and soul of eating and entertainment in London. While some of the sex shops and erotic bookshops still remain, the area is now renowned for its narrow streets packed with interesting bars, iconic London clubs and restaurants that vary from hidden takeaways to fine dining establishments. Add in the tourist traps of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, the supermarkets and dim-sum cafes of Chinatown and the world-famous shops of Oxford Street, and there’s nothing you can’t find in Soho.
Nowadays there are few residential offerings here due to the number of buildings transformed into media offices, but it’s still possible to find chic apartments, ex authority buildings and even the very occasional Georgian house. Rent is pretty steep, with two bedroom rental properties starting at around £2,200 per month and an average price of £4,700 per month, but it’s the price you pay for being in the beating heart of London! For more info on this great area, check out our Soho London Guide.
Commute: An 8 minute journey via the Central Line to the City
Situated just east of Shoreditch, Bethnal Green is vibrant, young and best of all, still affordable for such a brilliant location. Occupied by a mix of young professionals, traditional East Londoners and Bangladeshi families, it’s an authentic spot where independent Asian grocer shops sit alongside old pubs, but equally has become a foodie destination in recent years with cool new restaurants and venues opening under the railway arches.
Meanwhile if you’re searching for some greenery Victoria Park is just a short walk away, where festivals are often held in the summer too. Bethnal Green also benefits from being much less expensive than neighbouring Shoreditch, with an average rental price for a two bedroom apartment in Bethnal Green of £2070, and similar properties can be found starting from £1400. For more info on this great area, check out our Bethnal Green London Guide.
Commute: A 5 minute journey via the Central Line to the City
Top areas to live for commuting into the City…if you’ve got a family
Living in a modern city apartment is all very well when it’s just you and a partner or friends, but once it might start to feel a bit cramped. Before you start wistfully looking at adverts for cottages in Surrey then balking at the though of an expensive, 3 hour daily commute, have a look at these London areas which have direct tube access to the City, as well as plenty of green space, great schools, detached properties and a relaxing village feel. It truly is the best of both worlds.
High up in the leafy north of London, Highgate is a historic village that was absorbed into London when the city sprawled dramatically outwards in the 1800s. Filled with gorgeous terrace and detached houses with large gardens, high-end independent boutiques and warm gastropubs for the winter months, it’s an idyllic place to live with a family while still being a short journey from Central London. The seclusion and community atmosphere (and occasional impressive gated houses) attract paparrazi-shy celebrities too, so don’t be surprised to se a famous writer or A-list actor in the supermarket.
While buying in Highgate can be very expensive, renting is surprisingly affordable considering the upmarket nature of the area. Currently the average price for a two-bedroom rental property is £1850 per month, and similar properties can be found starting at £1400 per month.
Commute: A 19 minute journey via the Northern Line to the City
Famous for the annual Wimbledon Tennis Tournament, there’s a lot more to this part of South West London than racquets, astroturf and Pimms - although they are hard to avoid during the summer months! Popular with families due to the wide tree-lined streets and mix to top-rated state and private schools, Wimbledon also offers lots of opportunities to get out in the great outdoors due to Wimbledon Common and nearby Richmond Park, which are great for horseriding, dog-walking, running, or even just having a serene summer picnic in the sun.
As with Highgate, renting here is much more affordable than buying. Two-bed properties can be found starting at around £1300 per month, with an average rental price of £1800 for similar-sized places.
Commute: A 40 minute journey via the District Line to the City
Main image credit: Lawrie Cate