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Say South East London to a lot of Londoners, and you’ll get some Barbara Windsor-esque impression thrown your way. The sahf-east of Landan has a reputation that it has most definitely outgrown, and if you can handle the ‘I’ll-never-live-south-of-the-river’ comments, you will be hot on the pulse of London’s greatest resurging area.
The lesser known sibling to Canary Wharf (across the river) for so long – the Dannii to the Kylie Minogue – Canada Water has become an area of huge interest for young professionals, families and property developers. A massive investment has gone into transforming the area that will soon see a mass of excellent properties erected, as well as an entirely new shopping area. The houses meander along and can be right near the action – with cinemas, Southwark Park, restaurant and three stations (Canada Water, Rotherhithe, Surrey Quays) jotted around – or little cul-de-sacs that are perfect for families. There are some high achieving primary and secondary schools in the area that have helped make the area somewhat of a commuter town for city workers who want more of a community/town feel.
If you ask Londoners of yesteryear about living, or venturing, in Bermondsey you would probably be warned against it. Like a lot of South East London, bad reputations have bred a certain reluctance to embrace the area, however, other people’s losses will be your gain. Bermondsey has become a young, thriving area replete with good transport and a burgeoning nightlife. Bermondsey Arts Club, a renovated public toilet which serves up entertainment and bespoke cocktails, has become a hot-spot with upper wealth people and young people winging it on a dime. Bermondsey Street and the neighbouring streets such as Tooley Street are now packed with unique cafes, designer shops and draw a strong crowd. There’s even a yearly Bermondsey Street Festival that ends in a dog fashion show – the ultimate sign of gentrification if ever there was one! Rents vary, going from incredibly expensive to modest when sharing one of the old residential houses with a group.
Depending on where you stand on the issue of gentrification god love or god damn those pesky ‘creatives’ because the once ignored Deptford is a thriving area full of young professionals mixing with the legacy locals, enjoying a boom in markets, independent shops and cafes and an ever-growing smorgasbord of activity. Rents have slowly been creeping up since the expansion from no-go area to go-now area, but you can still find a good deal on properties before the planned developments are finished. Deptford does not have its own tube station, but there is a fast train heading straight into London Bridge which is perfect for young professionals and city workers.
Looking for more ideas? Check out the ultimate guide to the best places to live in London!
Neighbouring Canada Water, this dockland settlement has had a quieter renaissance all of its own. With cobbled streets and river-facing properties, Rotherhithe has become a hidden gem for the South East, benefiting from the influx of cash whilst avoiding mass gentrification. Served by an overground station that will take you to Shoreditch, Highbury and Islington and Clapham in up to twenty minutes, Rotherhithe is a great place for young professionals to consider; cheaper than you’d expect for a zone 2 location with enough at your reach to live the London life.
Greenwich might rank a historic 0 on the meridian longitude, but it is most definitely not a nil-points area to live. The words ‘quaint’ and ‘charming’ are not what you’d usually associate with London, but then again Greenwich’s existence is a bit of an anomaly all round. This little town along the Thames shorelines offers Londoners the chance to be just five miles out of central, but feel like they are a whole world away simultaneously. Beautiful houses, old-fashioned lanes and roads and a relaxing, small-town feel make this a desirable area for anyone to live. The fact that it also boasts several attractions including the famous Cutty Sark, the last of the clippers and the national maritime museum is just the proverbial cherry on top. Greenwich is of course most famous for the world famous observatory in the Royal Park which is a perfect day out for most people, seeing and learning about the great unknown and all the stars along the way. And from one set of stars to another set, the O2 arena is another triumphant prize on Greenwich’s impressive scorecard.
Yes, people live here too! The other major financial district of London (the other being the City) is not necessarily most people’s first choice to call home. The area is full of towering skyscrapers and cosmopolitan streets – a sort-of real life Gotham – as well as chic bars and hotels for the wheelers and dealers who come and make/lose their millions here. Quite (“quite”) exclusive as a residential area, Canary Wharf is mainly home to affluent young professionals who work in the area. Rents are not cheap, and there is not much else outside of the businesses to do. There are a few shops but for schools, green spaces and a wider range of leisure activities, South East Londoners tend to stick to the spots across the water – Canada Water, Greenwich etc.
If your compass points directions other than South-East check out some of our other area guides: