Saunders 1865 | Moving to London Docklands

Moving to London Docklands

FreeAdvice - ContactAre you moving to London Docklands? London’s Isle of Dogs with the glittering spires of Canary Wharf is one of the most futuristic spots in the capital and the perfect place for young professionals who want a slice of urban hip. With its stunning glass and steel fantasies, exciting waterside developments and converted warehouses it is a symbol of renaissance for East End London. The Dockalnds stretches from Tower Bridge in the west, incorporating Wapping, Limehouse, the Isle of Dogs and the Royal Docks, with London City Airport to the east, and Surrey Docks to the south of the river.  

Our free, in-depth Moving to London Docklands 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

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Putting Docklands on the map

London Docklands

With a growing population and a thriving business community, the London Docklands have much to recommend them.  New developments of luxury flats and conversions of old warehouses appeal to the young professionals who work in Canary Wharf and the City.  At the same time, some of the old dock basins are now marinas and water sports centres, while others have been filled in.  The extension of the Jubilee underground line means the West End is literally only minutes away, while the Docklands Light Railway carries commuters into the area from Beckton, Lewisham, Woolwich and Stratford, as well as providing the link to London City Airport.  In a few years time the new Crossrail railway line will provide high speed transport to central London and Heathrow Airport, while the ambitious building programme started some 30 years ago continues apace with the Riverside South towers, Heron Quays West and the North Quay project.

The areas


At the western end, next to the Tower of London, St Katherine’s Dock is now a modern marina, and a plethora of 70s and 80s apartment developments outnumber the original warehouse conversions throughout the area.  There are also some fabulous Georgian houses, on the waterfront and on Wapping High Street, but these rarely come to the rental market and when they do, the rents are steep.  Look out for spacious apartments in Oliver’s Wharf or an original warehouse conversion in Ivory HouseProspect Wharf and Aberdeen Wharf are good for luxury flats and there are a few houses to watch out for in Shadwell Basin.


The site of London’s original Chinatown, Limehouse is centred around Limehouse Town Hall on Commercial Road and extends from Limehouse Basin in the west to Pennyfields in the east.  Limehouse Basin with the establishment of the Docklands Development Corporation, although overshadowed by development on the neighbouring Isle of Dogs, is an urban success story.  There are some stunning early Georgian properties that still survive and there are highly desirable apartments in the remaining wharf buildings.  There are also smart flats to be found in the converted British Sailors’ Mission.  However, heavy losses of historic buildings in World War II mean that there are a lot of late 20th century blocks that are somewhat less attractive.

Isle of Dogs

More commonly referred to as Canary Wharf in reference to the commercial enclave of glittering, glassy towers, the Isle of Dogs nestles in a deep curve of the Thames that flows around it on three sides.  This is a district that looks resolutely forward towards a bright, shiny future.  For young professionals who are working in Canary Wharf, this is the place for cutting edge urban living.  There are some superb warehouse conversions, most notably at India Quay, and there are plenty of uber-luxurious modern apartment blocks.  Look out for Lanterns Court, the glamorous Pan Peninsula, the Icon and the Landmark; prices are influenced by how spectacular the view, so higher floors and river/City vistas command top prices.

Royal Docks

Probably more water than land, the Royal Docks refers to the district around London’s three biggest historic docks, the Royal Victoria, the Royal Albert and the King George V basins.  On a narrow strip of land between the Royal Albert and the King George V docks, London City Airport has its short runway – it’s the only airport actually within London.    The area has estates of two storey housing and although some lovely Victorian houses have survived, this is not one of London’s most attractive corners.  It is, however, the place for waterside living on the cheap and there are some attractive modern apartments available, with more under construction.

Surrey Docks

The area features London’s largest marina but the rebuilding has been somewhat piecemeal, resulting in something of an architectural theme park with apartment buildings in styles from the 70s to the current day all jostling for position by the water, as well as a few remaining warehouse conversions.  Rents are cheaper here than across the river on the Isle of Dogs, but now connected the other side of the river by the East London underground line, it is fast becoming a more desirable place to live.

Who lives here and why?

Close to the City and home to the new commercial hub of Canary Wharf, the London Docklands represent the choice of convenience for anyone working in the financial sector.  But amid the legions of City workers who call the area home, there have also been some famous faces over the years: the late great David Lean, director of Dr Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, actor Sir Ian McKellen, comedian Lee Hurst, Cher, artist James McNeill Whistler, the fictional Lemuel Gulliver from Gulliver’s Travels, Robert De Niro, Glenda Jackson and chat show host Graham Norton.

The Best Bits

Many of the original dock basins in the Docklands still exist, although plenty have been filled in.  Piers, jetties and warehouses still make up part of the fabric of the Docklands, in stark contrast to the gleaming modern towers that represent the redevelopment of the area.

The population in this thriving and economically important area is expanding rapidly and accommodation comes in the form of converted warehouses and lofts, along with swish new apartment blocks. The building continues and the transport infrastructure has been transformed – and will be yet further with the advent of Crossrail, linking Canary Wharf to Heathrow in just over 40 minutes.

The area is handy for two exceptional entertainment venues: Excel in Royal Docks and the O2 Dome just across the river in Greenwich.  Both of them host an ever-changing programme of exhibitions, concerts and shows that draw the crowds from much further afield.

In addition, the proximity of the 2012 Olympic Park has brought further regeneration to the whole area and the opening of the new Westfield shopping centre in nearby Stratford has delighted locals who no longer have to trek up the West End for a dose of retail therapy.  Westfield also includes a shiny new multi-screen cinema and plenty of choice in family-friendly restaurants.  On a smaller scale, but more upmarket, there is some excellent shopping in Canary Wharf.  For those looking for something a little more energetic, as befitting for an area so close to the water, there are a number of sailing and water sports centres, as well as rowing clubs, gyms, local football and rugby leagues, and numerous other sports clubs, from karate to kick boxing.

Bringing the Kids

In the four postcodes that encompass the area, E1, E14, E16 and SE16, there are more than 50 primary schools for boys and girls up to the age of 11, including seven Roman Catholic and five Church of England denominational schools, and 17 secondary schools going up to 18, including separate boys’ and girls’ schools, fee paying and state funded, and a number of Catholic and Islamic schools.  There are also a number of highly academic private schools close by in the City, to which older children could easily commute.

School holidays won’t be boring either: there are museums, the Mudchute City Farm, parks and boat rides to enjoy.  The stunning historic sights of the City of London are minutes away, not to mention the Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

Relocating to the Docklands

For assignees who dream of modern urban living in a luxury waterfront apartment, London’s Docklands will tick all the boxes.  Add to that the convenience factor for those who work in the City or Canary Wharf and it’s easy to see why this part of east London attracts a large expat community.  It might not be such an obvious choice for families but there are still some charming Victorian houses scattered around and it is a great deal cheaper than some of the central London options.  However, for assignees arriving from abroad, it’s not always obvious where to start looking and the Docklands cover a wide area with a diverse property offer.  There are incredibly luxurious apartment blocks on the Isle of Dogs but some areas are distinctly run down and less well served by public transport.  Knowing where to find the right property at the right price can be bewildering.  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.  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.

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Close to City
Great Transport
Young Professionals

For assignees who dream of modern urban living in a luxury waterfront apartment, London’s Docklands will tick all the boxes. Add to that the convenience factor for those who work in the City or Canary Wharf and it’s easy to see why this part of east London attracts a large expat community.

Average Monthly Rents: Wapping
1 bedroom £1,517
2 bedrooms £1,885
3 bedrooms £1,950
Average Monthly Rents: Limehouse
1 bedroom £1,629
2 bedrooms £1,824
3 bedrooms £2,123
Average Monthly Rents: Isle of Dogs
1 bedroom £1,508
2 bedrooms £1,720
3 bedrooms £2,808
Average Monthly Rents: Royal Docks
1 bedroom £1,400
2 bedrooms £1,733
3 bedrooms £1,993
Average Monthly Rents: Surrey Docks
1 bedroom £1,450
2 bedrooms £1,600
3 bedrooms £1,775
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