After over 3 decades relocating VIP expats to London, we’ve seen it all in terms of requests for homes and neighbourhoods. Every assignee is different and has unique priorities for where they’d like to live.
Many assignees end up with far too many areas on their wish list. Consequently, precious time can be wasted looking at numerous locations without any proper focus. In order to choose a location efficiently, it is best to opt for a pre-home finding orientation conducted by a local expert.
However, we have found that particular areas consistently shine through in requests from our expats. To help your search, we’ve put together our top 5 most requested areas to live in London to hopefully assist you or your assignee in the hunt for the perfect place to live.
First up is Islington, a recently gentrified area with some of London’s most desirable roads, theaters, shops and cafe culture. Islington is cool, chic and just a little bit fancy without being too showy.
Islington has experienced major growth in the past few years and is a fantastic place for young professionals, particularly those in media, entrepreneurial start-ups or similar industries. In addition to the high-end writer-types, you’ll also find smart city workers hanging out in the local bars and cafés. Located in the north of the city near Camden and Hackney, Islington is a 30-minute walk from the city centre.
The borough is also really well connected by the Underground – there are ten tube stops near the Islington area including Angel, Farringdon and Arsenal. You may hear a little bit more French being spoken around the area as the Eurostar terminal is located on the Islington border at St Pancras station.
Some of the more sought after properties are the Georgian and Victorian terraces, particularly Colebrook Row. Over 85 percent of rental properties in the area are apartments.
Situated just five minutes walk from the crowded throng of Oxford Street, affluent and eclectic Marylebone is a community of independent shops, fine restaurants, charming delicatessens and street-side cafes, all laid out on a rational grid system with leafy garden squares.
Similar to Kensington in many ways, you’re also likely to find a large European community here, particularly Parisians, as well as city executives and well-paid professionals. Despite the proximity to Regents Park to the north and Hyde Park to the south west it’s not particularly popular with families, so most residents are couples who love to patronise all the local bars and restaurants.
As you’d expect from such a central location, Marylebone offers excellent transport connections for commuting around London – and if you’re staying within the boundaries of the borough of Westminster, which includes Soho, Covent Garden and Mayfair, you can walk most places too.
Marylebone is bordered by the tube stations of Baker Street, Great Portland Street, Oxford Street and Oxford Street, which between them cover seven different Underground lines including the Victoria, Central and Bakerloo. As a result a journey to Bank from Oxford Circus takes just 8 minutes, while a trip to Kings Cross takes only 4 minutes. As for leaving London, Marylebone also has its own national train station, with regular trains to Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Birmingham among others.
Due to the location and the type of properties available, Marylebone is one of the most exclusive areas in London, and such exclusivity comes at a high price. Still, you certainly get some lovely properties for your money here, and there’s a wide range of options, including elegant Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian terraces overlooking garden squares, a few quaint streets of mews houses and various modern glass and steel developments if you’re looking for something more contemporary.
Thoroughly European with stucco-fronted white terraces, green squares and leafy streets, Kensington is without a doubt one of the most sought-after and affluent areas in London. It’s also home to some of London’s most-loved (and internationally renowned) museums such as the V&A and the Natural History Museum along Exhibition Road, as well as the Royal Albert Hall and a number of international schools for both adults and children.
Most Kensington residents are affluent families working in the arts or the financial sector (in addition to the relocation experts at Saunders 1865!) As well as a well-established French community there’s a large Spanish residency too, and you’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants catering to both communities – the charming Bute Street has long been known locally as ‘Frog Alley’ due to the number of Parisian cafes, patisseries and the famous French bookshop.
Fortunately for residents commuting to work, Kensington has better transport links than most parts of southwest London. The area is served by two tube stations, South Kensington and Gloucester Road, which are both on the Piccadilly, District and Circle lines. As a result, a journey to Central London via Piccadilly Circus takes just 8 minutes, while East London is just a 24 minute ride away via the Circle Line.
Due to the relatively central location, it’s also possible to walk or cycle to plenty of places from Kensington, including Knightsbridge, Chelsea, and Hyde Park.
If you’re dreaming of an apartment in one of the classic, white, stucco-fronted terraces, be prepared to pay a hefty price – Kensington is home to some of the most expensive properties in the city. As well as these terraced streets and squares there are also some historic mansion blocks and a few modern developments.
Lying just south west of Buckingham Palace, Belgravia is considered one of the world’s smartest residential addresses. Characterised by the stunning white stucco townhouses, this is the place where people from all over the world choose to put down their London roots. But despite the glamour and the grandeur of the residents, Belgravia manages to maintain a quiet, village-like atmosphere that belies its location at the hub of London’s West End.
The area shares its borders with Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Pimlico so there’s no chance of accidentally venturing into a less elite area either. Residents here tend to be foreign investors or successful professionals working in finance or corporate fields.
Belgravia is well-located for travelling around London, with Knightsbridge Underground Station on the Piccadilly line and nearby Sloane Square Underground Station on the Circle and District lines. A journey to Piccadilly Circus takes only 5 minutes, while to King’s Cross takes around 13 minutes. The giant and well-serviced Victoria Station is on Belgravia’s eastern edge.
While media attention on Belgravia tends to focus on the spectacular new developments commanding epic prices, it’s still possible to find older properties in the area too, including the classic stucco-fronted Georgian buildings and red-brick Victorian mansions.
While many come to be familiar with this popular area thanks to the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film from 1999, there’s so much more to Notting Hill than a hopefully Hugh Grant sighting.
Head here to discover great restaurants and bars, a happening nightlife, high-end shopping and one of London’s best markets. Notting Hill has transformed into one of the fancier, more desired districts of London with an influx of some of the city’s rich and famous. Notting Hill really is a hill with its summit around Ladbroke Grove so if you feel like living the ‘high life,’ check out the scene in Notting Hill.
Notting Hill is located in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in the north-west of the city. The main tube station is Notting Hill Gate, which is easily accessible via the Central, Circle and District Lines, or you could catch one of the many buses that frequent the area. It is a short walk from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and you could even nip over a visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Notting Hill has become one of the most desired areas of London to live in. As a result, prices have risen but as has the quality of housing. There is a large mix of accommodation options in the area from apartment blocks to beautiful Victorian terrace houses. It is a largely residential district with a lot of families living in the area.
Saunders 1865 has over 3 decades of experience helping VIP Expats find their perfect London location
If you are looking for more information on a London area ie rental prices, click here to access our London area reports
For a free initial consultation about your specific situation fill in this contact form
A huge thank to the team at Saunders 1865 for taking such good care of me the last five years. I’ve always appreciated their thoughtful guidance and friendship through multiple situations. They’ve been absolutely lovely to work with and a highlight of my UK experience.
Keith Endersen & Hank the Dog, California
To read related articles, please click the titles below: