Moving to Islington
Are you moving to Islington? For so many years a diamond in the rough, gentrification has finally polished Islington up and now you’ll find some of London’s most desirable residential roads, cosmopolitan shops and restaurants, museums and theatres, and a thriving cafe culture.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Islington 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 Islington on the map
Although the London Borough of Islington extends further, most people think of Islington as the central part of the borough around Upper Street, Barnsbury, Canonbury, de Beauvoir Town and Angel. Tony Blair may have put it on the map, but the neighbourhood actually pre-dates the UK’s last Labour government by some 1,000 years, having been originally settled by the Saxons. Over time the village grew as the Great North Road passed through, along the course of what is Upper Street now, and by the 16th century it had already become popular with wealthy citizens who wanted easy access to the city while living in a country environment.
Another factor in the area’s rise was the existence of a number of wells that supplied the City of London with water. This availability of water made the area a popular place for market gardens where vegetables were grown to feed London, while travellers on the turnpike were fed at an increasing number of inns in the area. By the 19th century, the Victorian building boom transformed the bucolic village into a proper city suburb. However, despite the desirable housing stock, the area fell into decline and by the mid-20th century was renowned for its grim and gritty poverty.
Now, however, after at least 30 years of creeping gentrification, Islington has become one of London’s most desirable residential areas, in part due to its fine Georgian and Victorian houses, and partly down to its excellent transport links both south to the City and north from the major railway stations of Kings Cross and Euston on its southern borders. It is also well served with buses and tube stations linking it to the West End and the rest of London.
Localities to consider include:
- Central Islington – although a magnet for young, hip urbanites, beyond the stylish cafes of Upper Street,there are some gorgeous Victorian and Georgian houses to be found. Canal-side living also appeals and you’ll find a number of sleek modern apartment blocks here and at Islington Green. Just to the north-west the beautiful garden squares of Milner, Lonsdale and Cloudesley command high prices, and strategic road blocking keeps the residential streets sleepy and quiet. Prices are high due to popularity and good transport links.
- Canonbury – the most northern part of the Islington patch, there are plenty of fine Victorian properties here, as well as spacious inter-war semi-detached houses. Compton Terrace boasts some of London’s most splendid Georgian mansions, with more modest Georgian houses to be found in Canonbury Square, Duncan Terrace, Gerrard Road and Gibson Square.
- Barnsbury – to the west of Canonbury and less well-known, early Victoriana is the flavour of the day here. Quiet residential streets have been blocked to prevent ran-running, resulting in a tranquil village air. Desirable addresses include Manchester Terrace, Milner Square, Ripplevale Grove – and the Edwardian mansion flats of Sutton Dwellings.
- De Beauvoir Town – this is the eastern section of Islington and it is a mix of old houses, such as the neo-Jacobean delights of De Beauvoir Square, and the less attractive tower blocks and maisonettes of the De Beauvoir Estate. The lack of a tube station here has kept prices down.
- Pentonville – in the south west of N1 you will see the results of heavy WWII bombing and the rise subsequently of a number of social housing estates. Proximity to the major railway stations of Kings Cross and St Pancras has made it less smart than neighbouring areas but there are still some Victorian gems in its environs.
- Hoxton – gentrification came late to Hoxton but now its trendy reputation attracts young professionals and artisans wanting a slice of the area’s cool celebrity vibe. There’s a mix of Victorian houses – try Charles Square and Shepherdess Walk – Victorian and Edwardian mansion blocks and some rather ugly 1960s developments. Live-and-work ateliers have been encouraged in converted warehouses and factories, brining an artisan feel to the area.
Who lives here and why?
The inhabitants of the N1 postcode are a cosmopolitan mix of British and ex pat City professionals, the liberal middle classes with a leaning towards the arts, immigrants and lower income families, and of course students. With a good sense of community it maintains its village atmosphere but it represents one of London’s most vibrant cultural areas with a number of theatres, music venues and cinemas; it also plays host to a number of arts festivals through the year.
This cultural vibe attracts an arty crowd, who in turn perpetuate the area’s intellectual life. It’s a hugely popular place to live with London’s theatrical community and the following celebrities call it home: Lily Allen, Neve Campbell, Alan Cumming, Johnny Depp (temporarily), James McAvoy,Salman Rushdie, Andy Serkis, Emma Watson, Charlie Watts, Kate Winslet and many more. Furthermore, it was home ground to Sir Walter Raleigh and George Orwell in days gone by and now the incumbent Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, also chooses to live here.
So what’s the appeal for the glitterati and the rest of Islington’s residents? Firstly, this is a place with a bit of buzz about it – more so than most other areas of London. It’s busy and vibrant, as if the colonisation by a new generation of young professionals has brought a new energy with it. The cultural scene is great, the shops and restaurants are cool and the nightlife’s hot. But there are also quiet leafy streets with elegant houses and garden squares, pretty parks for young families to play in, bustling markets selling produce and crafts, and along Upper Street’s ‘Technology Mile’, London’s largest free wireless internet zone.
Some of Islington’s vibrant character can be summed up by taking a look at its iconic sites. The most famous of all of Islington’s theatres has to be Sadler’s Wells at the southernmost edge of the area. Currently home to London’s premier dance venue, this has been a theatre and music hall since the 1680s. On the other hand, for something bang up-to-date, visit the Emirates Stadium in the north of the region to see Arsenal soccer club play a home match or take a browse around the club museum.
The Almeida Theatre is also a relative newcomer compared to Sadlers Wells and it specialises in innovative modern stage productions. If you’re into antiques, the Camden Passage Antiques Centre will be right up your street or find more modern works at the Crafts Council gallery on Pentonville Road. There are also some of London’s best market in the environs, at Archway for food produce and crafts, Holloway Road for flowers, the Nag’s Head for new and vintage fashion, Whitecross Street for speciality food, Chapel Market for purse-friendly fashion and foods, Exmouth Market for more food and Islington’s Farmer’s Market.
Still hungry after all that? There are quite literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from, ranging from swish gourmet destinations to ethnic eateries to hale and hearty pub grub. And, as you might expect, the nightlife in Islington simply fizzes with theatres and cinemas, wine bars, pubs, music and comedy venues and plenty of clubs.
The Best Bits
Most of Islington’s desirable residences date back to the Victorian building boom when the village’s population grew from 10,000 in 1801 to 320,000 by 1891. However, during the 20th century the area become run-down and poverty-stricken, only to be re-gentrified in the final years of that century and the first decade of this. In between, some 3,000 homes were lost during World War II, resulting in the redevelopment of large areas into social housing. More recently, new builds have focused on small, modern flats to suit the young professionals that are flocking to this exciting part of London.
Particularly popular are the Georgian terrace houses but these rarely become available on the rental market. More accessible are character flats in converted printing works and warehouses, while new apartment blocks overlooking the Grand Union Canal have proved incredibly popular. For families who need more space, the Victorian terraces around Archway make a good choice and for those whose budgets stretch a little further Canonbury and Barnsbury have a fine choice of period homes.
Bringing the Kids
With large Victorian family houses and a good range of schools in or close to Islington, this is an ideal spot for families with children. There are 48 state primary schools and 12 state secondary schools run by the Islington Local Education Authority. In addition to this you will find a handful of private schools to choose from, including the International Community School nearby at Regents Park.
Out of school there’s plenty to do for the younger generation: take them to the nine acres of grassy open air that is Barnard Park on Copenhagen Street, complete with adventure playground, or try out the swings at the Crumbles Castle playground on Bingfield Road. Islington also plays host to London’s only library that is dedicated to children, the Lewis Carroll Library – great if you’ve got a little bookworm. Add to that the Little Angel Theatre, the Islington Boat Club, the Islington Tennis Centre, and the wave pool in Archway Leisure Centre and you’ll have the holidays covered. Meanwhile, young fashionistas can head for a range of trendy children’s clothes shops scattered around the borough.
Relocating to Islington
If you’re moving to London for the first time and don’t really know the city beyond the central core, it can be hard to know which area you should look at first. North or south of the river? Islington or Hampstead? A villa in a garden square or a sleek modern apartment? If you don’t know the area,there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when looking for a rental property, and a wide variation in the rents being asked. Not to mention the considerations of convenience for work, access to suitable schools, easy 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 and 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.
Islington has become one of London’s most desirable residential areas, in part due to its fine Georgian and Victorian houses, and partly down to its excellent transport links both south to the City and north from the major railway stations of Kings Cross and Euston on its southern borders. It is also well served with buses and tube stations linking it to the West End and the rest of London.
Average Monthly Rents in Islington