In the last decade, South East London has seen major growth. Families seeking more space for their money have found areas south of the Thames to offer better value, and they have seen a regeneration of the local economy and entertainment and leisure offerings. Typically, transport in and out of South East London has been limited by the fact that the area is less well-served by the Underground. The rail network picks up the slack, but getting back home to South East London after a late night in the centre can be tough. For families, though, drawn by more space and lower prices for detached and semi-detached houses and a short commute into Central London, this is hardly an issue. Iconic Greenwich is one of the area’s highlights, known for its food and antique markets as well as historical buildings and being the home of Greenwich Mean Time, but the rest of South East London has a lot to offer and should not be overlooked.
For a while, one of Abbey Wood's main draws was that it was a relative bargain compared to most parts of London. It's still a relative bargain, but that's no longer the main thing the area has going for it. Crossrail is now one of the major attractions of the area, as its arrival will make the journey into Central London take just 25 minutes. The area is currently popular with families, who appreciate the good schools, green and open spaces, and affordable family houses. Whether this will change as more restaurants and shops appear in the area is yet unknown.
Anerley is a fairly quiet, mild sort of South East London suburb. It doesn't have much of an identity of its own, though nearby areas like Crystal Palace do, but it does have a few things going for it: chiefly, the affordability of its nice Victorian homes. Transport links are also good, with quick journeys by rail into London Bridge, and there's also the Overground, and good bus links. If this all sounds like Anerley is just a place to hang your hat, fear not - all of the usual amenities are available in the general area, as are several parks, and the people have a reputation for being friendly.
Avery Hill is a residential area with a University of Greenwich campus. The area itself doesn't have too much going on, but neighbouring areas like Eltham have a proper high street, and most amenities can be found relatively nearby. Avery Hill compensates for its somewhat quiet and remote feeling by having excellent green spaces and affordable homes, including many detached houses, which would be suitable for families. While transport links aren't outstanding, there are two rail stations nearby as well as several buses that will get you from A to B.
Bermondsey has gone through numerous reinventions throughout the centuries, and some of its most dramatic changes have occured in recent decades. Now, it is realising its potential as a trendy, central, riverside London neighbourhood. Bermondsey has a reputation for being a foodie mecca, as well as independent shops. The miles of riverwide walks and Southwark Park compensate for the fact that this area isn't very green, and Bermondsey is a prime example of urban living.
Blackheath is an area that some think of as being remote and difficult to access - but the flip side of that is that the neighbourhood has the feel of a country town. With vast amounts of green and open space, in the form of Blackheath and Greenwich Park, a strong sense of community, and good schools, it's no surprise this area attracts families. However, there are benefits for professional residents, too, including three rail stations and good access to Canary Wharf as well as local amenities like independent shops and restaurants.
Brockley is a community-orientated, lively part of South East London. Known for having a community feel and a very arty atmosphere, this area attracts young professionals and families alike. Families are especially drawn to the excellent state schools, while professionals particularly appreciate the good transport links - Brockley is on the Overground, as well as being served by National Rail trains - and everyone can appreciate the green spaces, beautiful and affordable Victorian houses, and great local amenities that range from cafes to bars.
Camberwell is an arty neighbourhood in South East London that is popular with young professionals as well as families. The area has a hip, edgy, urban vibe, and grand Georgian mansions coexist with council blocks here. There's good access to green space, with several parks in the area, and schools are generally very good. Transport links are good, particularly for the region, and include an Overground link as well as rail and bus services.
Catford is a predominately residential area with wide, tree-lined streets and attractive Victorian and Edwardian properties. These traits could make for a very expensive place to live, but Catford remains (relatively) affordable - perhaps because it is some distance from Central London and lacks a Tube station, but despite those facts, it is not a poorly-connected area. Commuters benefit from the four rail stations within reach. Families are drawn to the area for the same reasons, in addition to the good schools and access to green space. Though regeneration of the town centre is long awaited, and there are some issues with traffic, Catford represents a good-value London home.
Charlton's claim to fame is Charlton House, the stunning Jacobean mansion known as the best-preserved house of its kind in London. However, it is also known - thankfully by fewer people - as an affordable alternative to neighbouring Greenwich and Blackheath, with good schools, lots of green space, and fairly good transport links. The area, which retains the feel of the village it was before London engulfed it, also has useful local shops and a handful of pubs and restaurants as well as a riverside walk.
Crystal Palace is an increasingly trendy part of South East London, popular with families as well as young professionals. It's an area with a real identity, and strong community spirit - and there's no shortage of independent shops and restaurants to enjoy here. Housing in Crystal Palace remains a relative bargain compared to some neighbouring places, like Dulwich, but the prices of the area's property are rising. The arrival of the Overground made commuting even easier for residents, who can also opt for trains to London Bridge and Victoria.
Deptford is an increasingly trendy place to live. Long popular with students attending nearby Goldsmiths, more people are being attracted to this well-connected but still affordable corner of South East London. While near Greenwich, its property prices and rents have not come anywhere close to its affluent neighbour's - so it's little surprise that many artists and creative types are being drawn to Deptford as they are priced out of places like Shoreditch. Deptford remains a little rough around the edges, but in a way that is appealing to most of the types of people who look to call it home.
Dulwich is a highly desirable place to live, and with good reason. Families love the area because of its selection of excellent schools - both state and private - as well as the abundance of multi-bedroom family homes, ranging from Georgian to Sixties houses. There is also a lot of green and open space in the area, including Dulwich Park, which in addition to the lovely homes and independent businesses makes for a beautiful, villagey suburb. Dulwich is also well-connected, for being south of the river, with three rail stations.
Dulwich Village is an exclusive part of Dulwich - a conservation area, it has maintained its good looks and the feeling of being an upmarket village. The Dulwich Estate controls what even freehold homeowners can do to the external appearance of their property, including trees, and the estate also benefits several local state and primary schools.
East Dulwich was recently named one of the Sunday Times Best Places to Live - and it's no surprise why. The area has a broad appeal, to young professionals and families alike. Though there's no Tube link, the area is fairly well-connected with trains to Victoria and London Bridge. There's also an abundance of period homes suitable for families, green and open space, and several really excellent schools.
Elephant & Castle is one of very few central London areas that can still be described as rough around the edges. Though it is home to two large roundabouts, a tower (the Strata) which has been called the ugliest new building in Britain, and an uninspiring Sixties shopping centre, there is much to love about Elephant & Castle. For one thing, there are billions of pounds being spent on regenerating the area, including plans to improve traffic - and for another, the area already has great schools and fantastic public transport links.
Eltham is known for its historic homes, including Eltham Palace - once home to Henry VIII - but it has much to offer its less infamous residents. Attractive period properties abound, many available at prices that are cheap by London standards, and there are also new builds available. Green and open space is in good supply, too, including England's oldest golf course, and families will find a wide selection of good schools. There are several train stations serving the area, as well as numerous buses, and road links both into and out of London are very good.
Forest Hill is considered by many to be an 'up and coming' part of London - but this may be a surprise to its many current residents who find it an already outstanding place to live. Property is relatively affordable here, with many Victorian semis and terraces that would fetch much larger sums if dropped into other parts of London. There's also abundant green space, good schools, and independent shops and cafes. Forest Hill also has good transport links, with its own station on the Overground, several buses, and good road links.
Greenwich is a laid-back, leafy London suburb that has retained its old town feel. Young professionals and families alike appreciate the area's access to green space - Greenwich Park is one of the most historic Royal Parks - and riverside. Both also like Greenwich's selection of fine Georgian and Victorian property, and the excellent array of transport options that includes, rail, light rail, Tube, bus, and river taxi as options for commuters. Schools are also good, and local amenities range from supermarket chains to the local covered market.
Herne Hill is an oasis, despite being located in Zone 2. The area is described as having a villagey feel, no doubt because of the fact that there is a Sunday market, several lovely parks, and a mix of residents who are all passionate about the neighbourhood. Families particularly appreciate the availability of period homes of various sizes and green spaces, while young professionals may be most keen about the commute options and proximity to Brixton's nightlife. Whatever draws you to Herne Hill, you are not likely to be disappointed.
Hither Green is an affordable family suburb with fairly good transport links, green space, and good schools. Most importantly, it also has houses that are relatively affordable for London in general, and compared to neighbouring areas like Blackheath specifically. There's not much nightlife, with some 19th-century restrictions on the possibility of operating pubs, but there's a wealth of community activities and events - including a weekly farmers' market.
Kennington, once popular with civil servants and MPs, is increasingly liked by young professional sharers and families, too. The area is known for having a great deal of beautiful Georgian architecture, but there is also a range of property including Victorian terraces, modern flats, and everything in between. Local amenities, from pubs to green spaces to schools, are very good. Kennington is also very central, only just in Zone 2, and as such has unparalleled transport links. About the only downside is the fact that, of course, it's not cheap to live here.
Kidbrooke is a primarily residential area surrounded by some of South London's most prime real estate - yet the area itself remains more affordable than surrounding neighbourhoods like Blackheath. The area is popular with families, partially because of its Twenties and Thirties semi-detached and detached family houses. However, young professionals are increasingly looking in this area, which has seen its largest council estate redeveloped into new Berkeley Homes apartments.
Lambeth residents may be able to see Big Ben from their doorstep, but this central area has a very different feel than Westminster. The area has true locals, many of whom are catered to with a variety of local, independent shops. Though there are many amenities nearby that tourists flock to, there are also plenty of the sort that are enjoyed daily by residents, including green parks and a stretch of riverfront, local pubs, and restaurants. The area is mainly inhabited by working-age adults, and most of the homes available in this area are flats or apartments - not a lot of children live here. Transport links are outstanding, for work or leisure.
Lewisham is in the midst of significant regeneration, particularly in the town centre. It has a very suburban feel, but it is in Zone 2, and very well-connected - especially by train. There's a good range of property available in Lewisham, from new-build flats for young professionals working in Canary Wharf to large period homes for families - generally available for much less than a comparable property elsewhere in Zone 2. Lewisham also benefits from an array of local amenities, including green spaces, shops, and restaurants and bars.
New Cross is sometimes overlooked in favour of neighbours like Deptford and Peckham, but the area has a lot going for it - and not just for students at Goldsmiths. Families looking for a house in London may be surprised to find that the large Victorian homes here are comparatively affordable, and commuters will be happy with the wide range of options for transport, including the Overground and several rail operators from a variety of stations.
Nunhead is a prime example of a London village. It has a strong sense of community and a traditional high street, lined with shops like a butcher and a baker as well as local pubs surrounding the green. There is also good, affordable housing stock in this area, including Victorian terraces sought after by families looking for space and new-build flats, preferred by young professionals. Residents will have access to several rail operators as well as the Overground, making the commute relatively painless, and access to Peckham nightlife comes without having to sacrifice space or quiet.
Oval is a centrally located neighbourhood with outstanding transport links and good housing stock. The area also has good local amenities, ranging from pubs and restaurants to green spaces. It is not particularly a family area, with a higher proportion of residents being working-age adults, but it does have the necessary infrastructure for families. With access to both the Northern and Victoria Lines at several stations, it is easy to get around London for work or to enjoy nightlife in other parts of town, while offering a new-build flat or Georgian gem to return home to.
Peckham is a trendy neighbourhood loved by families and young professionals alike. It has earned the reputation of being the 'new Shoreditch,' as it remains comparatively affordable but has a strong and growing arts culture and nightlife scene. Housing in this area ranges from the period family home to the hip warehouse conversion, all much less expensive than in comparable areas like Dalston. Transport links are good, with two Zone 2 stations and the Overground as well as National Rail services, and local amenities like green spaces and independent businesses are abundant.
Plumstead is one of the last affordable pockets of London, but may not be for very long. While the area has suffered from a somewhat rough reputation, and from a lack of amenities like local shops and restaurants, these things are both changing significantly. Much of the rest of the infrastructure for a good place to live is already in place - good green spaces, good schools, good transport links - even transport links will improve, with Crossrail - and considering Victorian and Edwardian houses here are available at a bargain, Plumstead's prospects are looking good.
South Norwood is an affordable residential area for families and commuters into Croydon or Central London. It is known for its large country park, and South Norwood Lake, where visitors can sail. Though the area has yet to catch on in the way neighbours like Crystal Palace have, it likely will eventually - the combination of affordable homes, good green spaces, good schools, and good rail and Overground connections rarely fails to.
Sydenham is a well-connected suburb with a good range of local amenities to suit families as well as working professionals. There is a wide variety of housing available here, from spacious period flats to grand Victorian houses, and there is also abundant green space and a selection of good schools. Three rail stations serve the area, which is on the Overground as well as rail services, and there are plentiful local buses. Despite this, Sydenham remains a good-value location, especially compared to neighbouring areas like Dulwich.
Thamesmead is a huge, sprawling housing estate that is undergoing a multimillion pound regeneration programme, including a large new community centre and 25,000 new homes. In addition, the area will see a new library, cinema, shops, and more new public spaces - completely transforming a place that was known as the concrete backdrop to A Clockwork Orange.
West Dulwich is a relaxed part of London, with many beautiful parks and spacious homes combined with good, fast transport links into Central London. The area has a strong sense of community, with many local activities and events, and a fairly high percentage of children living here. With large homes, great green spaces, and very exceptional schools, it's easy to see what attracts families - while the great transport links, nice pubs, and independent shops may be the bigger draw for the young professionals who call the area home. Either way, West Dulwich has something for everyone.
West Norwood is a desirable, good-value neighbourhood surrounded by areas that aren't particularly affordable. It has been overlooked in favour of those places - including Dulwich Village and Crystal Palace - but that is unlikely to last, as buyers discover the Victorian and Edwardian homes in this area are much more affordable. Transport links are fairly good, too, and there's no shortage of green space or good schools to round out the 'family-friendly' package. Other local amenities, like shops and restaurants, are improving to catch up with those benefits.
Woolwich is an area that has become synonymous with 'regeneration' as a billion-pound scheme has transformed the Royal Arsenal historic buildings into a new residential area. In addition to many thousands of new homes, there is a significant amount of development in the town centre, including a new library. The area is also well-connected, with DLR trains to the City and Canary Wharf, trains to London Bridge and Cannon Street, and Thames Clippers for those who prefer an unconventional commute - and this will improve even further with the arrival of Crossrail in 2018.