Moving to the City, Tower Hill and Aldgate
Are you moving to Tower Hill and Aldgate? Dating back to the Romans settling on the banks of the Thames in 1st century AD, the City (of London) is the original and most historic part of London. From the Great Fire of London and St Paul’s to the poor unfortunates taken through Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London for execution, London’s past is as vivid here as its present, with the financial hub of the Square Mile spawning a new wave of glittering towers stretching skyward. All this makes this area a desirable place to call home once again.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Tower Hill and Aldgate report includes info on:
• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city
Putting the City, Tower Hill and Aldgate on the map
Lying north of the Thames, the City today is considerably larger than its original Roman walls. Its western boundary runs up Chancery Lane, extending to the north to abut Camden, Islington and Hackney. Aldgate was originally the eastern-most gateway of the City—the ward lies in the east shadow of London Wall. To the south of Aldgate, Tower Gateway, Tower Hill and the Tower of London form the lower eastern corner of the City. The southern boundary is the river bank, where the broad expanse of the Thames provides a stunning backdrop to the increasingly daring architecture of Europe’s financial focal point.
Lying within the Congestion Zone and with severely limited parking opportunities, most workers and residents of this part of London rely on public transport. Consequently the area is well served. Underground stations give access to the Circle, District, Central, Hammersmith & City, Waterloo & City, Metropolitan and Northern lines. Tower Hill and Bank are the two western termini of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) which links the City to Canary Wharf, Greenwich and London City Airport—and there are overground railway stations at Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Moorgate, Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street. Add to that the two river bus stops at Tower Hill and Blackfriars, and every mode of transport is covered!
The City itself, even with the addition of Aldgate and Tower Hill, covers a relatively small area and most things are within walking distance of each other.
The City and its close environs are perhaps unique in London for their demographic—while more than 300,000 people work in the area every day, a mere 10,000 call this area home. However, the combination of the recent recession and the lifting of regulations preventing the conversion of offices into residential units means that there is now an increasing availability of new apartments throughout the area.
A commercial centre for the insurance industry and home to 30 St Mary Axe, affectionately known as the Gherkin, Aldgate has a number of prestigious new residential developments. One Commercial Street is a new 21-storey apartment block which offers easy walking access to the City and is equally well placed for the burgeoning retail and restaurant scene in Spitalfields and Whitechapel. Goodman’s Fields is a stunning 7-acre development, with studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments close to Aldgate East tube station. Barratt Homes meanwhile have developed Altitude, a 21-storey apartment tower on Whitechapel High Street. Three more towers are being developed at Aldgate Place to provide a further 463 residential units, as well as offices and a hotel. The area is certainly undergoing rapid and significant change.
Pre-dating Roman Londinium with a bronze-age settlement, Tower Hill is one of the oldest parts of London. Just next to the Tower of London, St Katherine Docks is one of the city’s few luxury marinas, with more than 200 apartments around the east dock in the City Quay building. Beyond St Katherine Docks, London Dock is a new residential and mixed use development set around an elegant public square. 10 Trinity Square was at one time the offices of the Port of London—now, however, it is being transformed into 41 dwellings and a swanky hotel.
This iconic 1960s development may be looking its age these days but it is perhaps more popular now than it ever has been. Three tower blocks and 13 terrace blocks provide more than 2,000 flats and the world renowned Barbican Arts Centre. Its concrete Brutalist architecture might not be to everybody’s taste but there’s no denying that it was a visionary development for its time.
The Square Mile
Residential property within the heart of the City used to be as rare as hen’s teeth but things have changed rapidly over the last few years. Still cheaper than Mayfair and Knightsbridge, and with the possibility of iconic views, it’s easy to see why there has been a resurgence in interest. It’s also viewed as a safe haven for foreign investors who are looking to protect their capital by sinking it into London property.
Close to the Barbican in Silk Street, the Heron is a 36-storey residential tower containing 285 luxury apartments built by Gerald Ronson. The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is housed in its lower floors, having been the original residents of the site. Roman House is a smaller development of two- and three-bedroom flats on the corner of Fore Street and Wood Street, offering well-proportioned properties with a garden courtyard. Principal Place, at the City’s north eastern corner near Liverpool Street, is another mixed development that will combine office, residential and retail space around a grand piazza.
Who lives in the City and why?
Green and leafy suburbs? Parks and gardens? Spacious family houses? The City, Tower Hill and Aldgate are going to tick none of those boxes—so what are the reasons that more and more people are choosing to come and live in London’s most heavily built-up areas? What’s on offer is urban living at its most extreme. Luxury apartments, spectacular skylines, loft conversions—it’s city living and for young urban professionals who work in the financial district, it makes perfect sense.
A few years ago, the City was very much a commercial centre and only that. The restaurants and pubs were only open on weekdays, closing relatively early as the commuters went home, and what shops there were very much catered to the predominantly male workforce—gentlemen’s outfitters, barbers, tailors and so on. Now, however, it’s a different story. A thriving arts and cultural scene has sprung up, excellent restaurants are open through the week and there are some first-rate shopping destinations.
Leadenhall Market is a spectacular covered shopping arcade on Gracechurch Street which actually dates back to the 14th century. Today it is home to a collection of eclectic boutiques, top quality food purveyors and a number excellent eateries. Nearby, the Royal Exchange has transformed from a dusty insurance market into a luxury designer shopping hub, while to the east at Liverpool Street, Spitalfields has also undergone a transformation. Once the place for fruit and vegetables, this is now a buzzing market specialising in fashion, vintage clothes, arts and crafts, and artisan foods. At the other end of the Square Mile, at St Paul’s, One New Change is a purpose built swanky modern shopping centre.
Restaurants, too, have seen something of a renaissance. Naturally, you’ll still find the old-fashioned chop houses packed with noisy bankers and stock brokers shouting about their latest deals. But there is also a fine selection of more sophisticated restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Club Gascon, Galvin La Chapelle and Viajante. And though there are not many arts venues, the one the City can boast is world class. The Barbican Arts Centre is Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference centre and home of the London Symphony Orchestra.
In other words, the City, Aldgate and Tower Hill have a lot to offer. But if you’re thinking of moving to one of these areas, you should also bear in mind that it’s a noisy, busy, crowded environment with a very limited amount of open space – just a few small parks and garden squares. It’s not the place to look for a spacious house with a private garden, and in this respect, it’s not particularly family friendly.
The best bits
The area’s long history has left an astounding legacy of historic landmarks—most notably Saint Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren to replace the cathedral burned down during the Great Fire in 1666, and the Tower of London, the earliest sections of which were built by William the Conqueror in 1078.
But there’s far more than just these two titans—this is probably the most architecturally varied and exciting part of London. From parts of the original Roman Walls to today’s towering achievements like the Gherkin and the Cheesegrater, every street offers its own history lesson. Heavy bombing during World War II left its mark—some of the damage was rebuilt as it had been, while some made space for exciting new developments such as the Barbican.
But perhaps the best thing of all about the City of London is something intangible—it’s energy. There’s a buzz in the air and you can practically cut the ambition with a knife as the throngs of financial service workers stampede to their offices first thing every morning. In a bull market, the air crackles with electricity and in City bars on a Friday evening you can’t forget you’re in one of the world’s great financial hubs!
Bringing the kids
To be fair, the City, Aldgate and Tower Hill are not really family destinations. Gardens are rare, playgrounds virtually non-existent. These urban environments have not been designed for children. So it may come as some surprise to learn that there are actually a couple of outstanding private schools in the area and a small number of state primaries.
In Aldgate, Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School is a voluntary-aided Church of England state school. Private primaries include the City of London School and the City of London School for Girls, St Paul’s Cathedral School—which offers boarding for choristers—and the Charterhouse Square School. Naturally, surrounding boroughs are close enough to offer a wider choice.
At secondary level the fee-paying City of London School and the City of London School for Girls have well-deserved reputations for excellence.
Relocating to the City, Aldgate or Tower Hill
If you’re coming to start a new job in the City, there’s a lot to be said about choosing to live in one of these three areas, especially if you want a short commute and you’re not planning to run a car in the UK. This is urban living in one of the most exciting commercial districts on the planet. It’s uniquely different from the rest of London and even more so from the rest of the UK. And although the rent is not especially cheap, it’s certainly a lot lower than in other central areas such as Mayfair and Belgravia. Modern apartments are the most prevalent form of dwelling, though as you head further east in Aldgate and to the areas beyond, it becomes easier to find flats in converted Georgian or Victorian houses.
However, if you don’t know the area, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when looking for a property, and access to someone with good knowledge of the local rental market is virtually essential. Add to that further considerations such as convenience for work, access to suitable schools, transport links for trips back home… This is when employing the services of a relocation agent can really help.
At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. We know London property inside out, we know how much you should expect to pay and the advantages and disadvantages of choosing different areas. We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – here or to other parts of London and the UK. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.
Average monthly rents - City
Average monthly rents - Aldgate and Tower Hill