Known for its business roots, the City of London (otherwise known as the Square Mile) is finding its feet as a residential area. New homes, schools and some of the best transport links in the capital mean there is now more than 9,000 people living in the City.
It’s the key driver for the London economy with an annual output of £45bn, which is equivalent to 14 percent of the capital’s GDP and three percent of the country’s. It’s safe to say that the area attracts bankers, lawyers and financial-related professions to the homes in the area.
If the West End offers the glitz and glam, then the City is viewed as its corporate neighbour. But mass reconstruction over the years has increased appeal in the Square Mile massively. There are now a plethora of shops, restaurants and bars to experience.
On a map
The City of London is both a city and county containing the historic centre and major business district of London. It is located less than a mile from Charing Cross, is in the City of London Borough and spans 1.2 square miles (now you can see where the nickname comes from).
Initially known as Londinium, the City made up most of the capital after settlement by the Romans in the first century AD to the middle ages. During the Roman times, the City’s population was around 60,000 at its height.
By the late 16th century, London became a major centre for banking, commerce and international trade. Then, in 1708, Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral was completed, a building which is still one if London’s most iconic sites.
The Great Fire of London was particularly destructive for the City, destroying around 70,000 of the 80,000 homes. After the fire, plans were made to remodel it with a renaissance style that included urban blocks, squares and boulevards. However, these plans did not come to light, and the medieval street pattern was reconstructed.
The 18th century proved to be a time of speedy growth for London, with the rise of the Industrial Revolution and Britain's role at the centre of the British Empire. At this time, the area of the City expanded beyond its borders into parts of the West End and Westminster.
Who lives there
As of 2016, the estimated population of the City of London was 9,401. Residents are mostly made up of City professionals that work in the banking and legal sectors. The largest age group is between 20-29, with many wealthy overseas students choosing the area as their home because they favour the modern flats.
Renting in the City
An overwhelming amount of properties in the City are modern residential developments akin to a five-star hotel. The Heron, in Moorgate, sets the bar for luxury with its clubhouses and spa-like facilities.
Along with modern new buildings, the Barbican sits in the Square Mile and is a throwback to the brutalist architecture of 1960s London. While Goodman’s Fields in Aldgate is another plush development. There are 140-plus more homes are set to be built over the next 10 years.
The average rental price for a one-bedroom home in the City is £2,170 per month, two-bedroom properties fetch in the region of £2,975, and a three-bedroom house will set you back £3,700.
The City is incredibly well connected with six mainline stations. Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street and Moorgate offer travel links all over London and to many areas outside of the capital.
There are even more tube stations - every line except the Piccadilly Line and the Victoria Line are accessible. Getting around the City - and other parts of London - is straightforward and convenient.
The Elizabeth Line (formerly the Crossrail) will also have stops at Liverpool Street and Farringdon shortly, while several bus services go in and out of the Square Mile.
Things to do
As you can probably imagine, the City is brimming with restaurants, bars, clubs, attractions and monuments. Here is a selection of our favourites.
Views don’t come any better than they do at Duck and Waffle (the name explains the cuisine), which is situated on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower. A meal for two with wine will set you back around £100, but it’s worth it for that duck, waffle and those enchanting skyline views.
Address: 110 Bishopsgate (Heron Tower)
It might sound like a motorbike racing circuit, but the Drift is a funky bar and restaurant set in vibrant glass-wrapped surrounding. Food is casual European, from steaks and burgers to a selection of fish. With the bar and DJ downstairs, don’t expect a quiet meal out, though. But if you’re looking for the perfect tonic to start your night, head to the Drift on a Friday evening.
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
Hawksmoor is an upmarket chain of restaurants serving some of the finest steaks in London. And if you’re a meat aficionado, this is the place to visit. The wood-paneled surroundings set the scene, where steak is the main feature but not the only item on the menu. Recently, more fish dishes have been added, while the desserts have always had a reputation for being spectacular.
Address: 10 Basinghall St, London EC2V 5BQ
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most instantly recognisable landmarks. There is a 360 tour available for visitors, who can learn all about the history of this church. The first service took place in 1697, and it is also famous for the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981.
Address: St. Paul's Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
One of Britain’s most historic sites, the Tower of London has been going strong since 1066 when William the Conqueror founded it. Home to the Crown Jewels, there are costume guides and recorded tours that tell the famous history of this iconic landmark.
Address: St Katharine's & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB
If you want to see a first-hand example of London’s 1960s brutalist architecture, look no further than the Barbican Centre. This dominating building hosts a world-class arts centre and learning organisation that encapsulates creativity on so many different levels, from design to the arts, dance, film and music.
Address: Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
Moving to the City of London
The City will always be associated with its professional roots as the capital of commerce and banking. However, anyone who decides to take residence and call the EC postcodes their home will find an area with modern apartments, bars and restaurants, and excellent travel links. There’s nothing quite like City living.