Looking for a London Neighborhood Guide? Here’s my personalized guide to London Neighborhoods and the best places to live in the city. Enjoy!
When I first moved to London, I was in the dark. How does the tube work? How will I save money? What the heck do I pack?! But above all it was…where do I live?? With a population of 8.9 million (still wondering how we all fit in here) deciding where to live in London was far from easy.
So, with surprisingly little information on how London neighborhoods work — I thought it best to write up this London neighborhood guide for you to decide where to live in London like a pro.
My credentials? Well with my 4 years here and an insatiable knack for exploring every corner of the city I have a pretty good understanding of all the boroughs and neighborhoods London has to offer.
With that said, always keep in mind where you live is a highly personal choice. What I may describe as the perfect neighborhood for me might not meet your fancy. And that’s totally okay!
Anyways, to really understand London neighborhoods — you’re going to need a quick London geography lesson…
London Neighborhood’s Map
London Neighborhood Guide: Boroughs vs Neighborhoods
London is broken up into 33 boroughs. This makes up what we call Greater London. Within those 33 boroughs there are roughly 48 neighborhoods as some straddle between two boroughs (take Bethnal Green for example).
Each neighborhood truly has its own personality which is what makes living in London so unique. But it also adds heaps of indecisiveness to choosing which neighborhood is right for you. So, let’s break it down.
London Neighborhood Guide: Factors to Consider
Before you start looking into London neighborhoods you need to consider a few things. This includes…
Because Notting Hill cafes are a lot different than Notting Hill rent prices. Always have a budget as you’re searching different neighborhoods and make sure you stick to it. Londoners spend nearly 60% of their income on rent (keep in mind the average is 30%).
I.e the more you can save on housing, the better. As that money can easily go towards other expenses (like travel, or…travel).
Read More: Check out my post on 27 Effortless Ways to Save Money in London
Your Work or School
No matter how nice a neighborhood is, there’s no point in living an hour commute from your work/school (unless it’s majority online).
Make sure you’re within close proximity to your job or university so you don’t spend half of your time in London avoiding eye contact on the underground. Or at the very least, make sure your love for the neighborhood trumps the commute.
Pro Tip: If you already have friends or family in London I would definitely suggest moving near them too— it makes things so much easier!
Your Personality and Lifestyle
The last thing you’ll want to think about is lifestyle. What London experience do you want? Partying til the late hours of the night or rolling out of bed to your nearest local bookshop?
Some areas are definitely more lively than others (which I’ll lay out for you soon) so it’s imperative you factor this in when picking a London neighborhood.
For students, it’s simple. If you want the student experience, choose dorms. If you want the London experience, find a flat. Going from living in dorms to working and getting my Masters in a houseshare were two completely different experiences. Not one better than the other, but different. So choose wisely.
London Neighborhood Guide: A Breakdown of Each Area
Rather than thinking in terms of boroughs and neighborhoods, I like to think of London in terms of East, West, North, South, and Central. This helps immensely with narrowing down your choices. Here’s a breakdown of each area and recommended neighborhoods.
Known for its buzzing art scene, trendy hangouts and an overall up-and-coming vibe East London is home to some of the coolest neighborhoods in the city.
There’s always things on in the area from bustling street markets to chic cocktail hours and…. (spoiler alert) it’s where I’ve chosen to call home for the past 4 years. As unbiasedly as possible — here are the best places to live in the area.
Shoreditch & Hoxton
The first thing that comes to Londoners and tourists’ minds alike when you say East London is — Shoreditch. The area is filled with independent shops, thrift stores, pop-ups, and of course, the infamous Brick Lane. You’ll usually find young professionals here paving their way in the creative industry.
Closest Stations: Shoreditch High Street, Old Street, Liverpool Street
Read More: Check out my post on a walking tour through Shoreditch and the best things to do in the area
The new financial hub of London Canary Wharf is full of skyscrapers, picturesque river views and a city buzz reminiscence of NYC. Although the area is primarily a working hub, there’s been a lot of rentals popping up in the area and it’s a great place to live if you’re employed in the area.
Due to the 9-5 grind here weekends in Canary Wharf are also incredibly peaceful.
Closest Stations: Canary Wharf, Heron Quays
Read More: Check out my post on the best things to do in Canary Wharf!
Isle of Dogs
Although I won’t be sharing where I live now I will disclose I lived in the Isle of Dogs in 2019 — and loved it! Super close to Canary Wharf (less than a 10 minute walk) Isle of Dogs is a close alternative to the hustle and bustle. The riverside walk is my absolute favorite; dotted with cozy pubs and cafes and an easy hop over to the O2 arena.
Closest Stations: Canary Wharf, Island Gardens, Mudchute, South Quay, Crossharbour
A creative hub rivaling the likes of Shoreditch — Hackney is another go-to for the artistically driven. It’s bordered by Regent’s Canal, Victoria Park, and London Fields meaning you’ll get a healthy mix of scenic London nature with a buzzing night scene. Most famously known for its Broadway Market and Crate Brewery the area screams hipster.
Closest Stations: Hackney Wick, Homerton, Hackney Central, London Fields, Bethnal Green
A bohemian nook in East London Stoke Newington is an up-and-coming place to be, especially for London renters. A more residential vibe than many of its bordering neighborhoods it’s leafy parks and farmer’s markets will give you all the suburban feels while still being close to the vibrancy of East London hotspots.
Closest Stations: Stoke Newington
Having spent a lot of my undergrad in this area I can definitely attest to the massive change Stratford’s had over the years. Since the 2012 Olympics the area was rebirthed with Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and one of London’s biggest malls, Westfield Shopping Centre. Nowadays it’s a hub for stadium goers and shoppers alike, and more trendy by the day.
Closest Stations: Stratford, Stratford High Street
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve got East London. Known for it’s beautiful houses West London is the posh-de-le-posh of the capital. And there’s always something to do here. From popping into the Natural History Museum to taking a stroll around London Mews here are the best neighborhoods in the area.
With a bit more anecdotes of East London than your typical West-End Hammersmith is a mix of historic charm, riverside views, and a buzzing multicultural community. A life here would probably include plenty of al fresco dining opps and West End shows at the Apollo.
Closest Stations: Hammersmith
Of course, Kensington ranks as one of the most desirable areas in London. And it’s clear why. The beautiful mews, royal heritage, and luxury boutiques may catch your eye (and wallet). But in my opinion, Kynance Mews and Holland Park are the icing on the cake.
Closest Stations: High Street Kensington, Gloucester Road
Fulham: Another West London favorite — Fulham has a neighborhood vibe unmatched compared to many West London areas. Along with their gastro pubs, local cafes, rustic delis (and a Whole Foods) the neighborhood comes to life on the infamous North End Road.
Closest Stations: Fulham Broadway
A residential hub you’ve probably heard of Shepard’s Bush for their famed market and international food scene. Today you’ll find it dotted with cocktail bars, contemporary theaters, and stunning Victorian architecture. It’s also one of the most affordable options for the West-End area.
Closest Stations: Shepherd’s Bush
Last but not least we’ve got Twickenham. Known for its Rugby appeal Twickenham is marked by historic landmarks, a Strawberry Garden, and plenty of parklands. A bit far out from the city center it’s a great place to live if you want a countryside feel in the city.
Closest Stations: Twickenham Railway Station
Known for its relaxed vibe and intellectual hub North London is home to a lot of politicians, actors, and academics alike. From Regent’s Park to Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath — North London has some of the best greenery in London, and museums. Here are the best neighborhoods to live in the area.
It’s hard to meet any London lover who hasn’t heard about Camden. It’s famous Camden Market and nightlife definitely makes it the most trendy place to live in North London. You’ll mostly find young professionals here — with a bunch of stylish apartments popping up every few months (or even weeks).
Closest Stations: Camden Town, Chalk Farm, Kentish Town
Another super picturesque London neighborhood Hampstead is home to the famous Hampstead Heath, a 790-acre park and home to tons of independent bookstores, old pubs, and local markets. Rent prices here tend to be quite steep — but the studio flats are reasonable, by London standards.
Closest Stations: Hampstead
A modern London hub Finsbury Park is home to one of the coolest social scenes in London (and a bad date or two of mine). It’s famed Finsbury Park is a great place to retreat after a long day of Londoning. And in the summer the area comes to life for the infamous Wireless Festival.
Closest Stations: Finsbury Park
An area of London that doesn’t always get the best rep. But nowadays South London is a great place to live if you want a mix of peaceful scenery and city life. A mix of clubbing hotspots (and randomly home to a lot of Austrailians) to village-escapes here are the best neighborhoods in South London.
I absolutely adore Greenwich. An area of London that feels more like a town than a city, Greenwich is filled with green spaces, rich history, and a total-village vibe. If Greenwich Park wasn’t enough to catch your eye it also boasts some of the best views in London.
Read More: Check out my post on the best things to do in Greenwich!
Closest Stations: Greenwich, Cutty Sark
A beautiful hub of African and Caribbean culture Brixton still holds true to its roots of a vibrant London neighborhood with plenty to offer. From thriving Brixton market to some of the best live music in London — it’s always a good time.
Closest Stations: Brixton
If you’re looking to live Thames side, head to Battersea. A riverside oasis from busy London — Battersea is the perfect place to be close to Central without being too in the grind. There’s also tons of art exhibitions to catch at the Battersea Arts Centre and of course, you’ve got the lovely Battersea Park.
Closest Stations: Clapham Junction
The most vibrant area of South London — Clapham is where you go to have a good time. From pubs to clubs and buzzing restaurants there’s little you can’t do here. But if you’re ever in need of some quiet you’ve got Clapham Commons at your doorstop.
Closest Stations: Clapham Junction
If you’re looking to be in the middle of it all, welcome to Central London. Mind you, these are the highest rent prices in London and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend living so close to everything (unless you want to). Regardless here are the best neighborhoods in the area.
If your budget allows Mayfair is calling your name. With one of the best club scenes in the world and an Instagrammable flat on every corner, you’re not far-flung from some of London’s most elite hangouts. Not to mention Hyde Park and Green Park at your doorstep.
Just over London Bridge and Tower Bridge sits Borough. You probably recognize it from Borough Market. But it’s endless museums, landmarks and skyscrapers will give you all the London feels you could ever need. Oh, and there’s Shakespeare’s globe.
If you’d like a list of all the neighborhoods in London Huffington Post published an amazing article on a quick description of each: Huffington Post: 48 London Neighborhoods – A Quick Reference Guide
London Neighborhood Guide: Best Sites to Find a Flat in London
Although I won’t go too in-depth on the flat hunting process here (let me know if you’d like another post on that) here are a few sites to get your flat hunting journey started once you’ve found an area and neighborhood you fancy.
My Favorite Area?
Personally I love East London. From the people I’ve met, to the places I’ve lived there’s a total vibe to the area I haven’t quite found anywhere else. With that said, I would love to experience North London life one day.
London Neighborhood Guide: Final Thoughts
With all the stress that comes with moving to London, choosing a neighborhood shouldn’t be one of them. So I hope this London neighborhood guide helped narrow your choices a bit!
Wherever you move I know you’ll have the best of times. And always remember one of the best parts of living in London is exploring it! No matter where you live be sure to venture outside your postcode bubble — especially when it’s sunny 🙂
I wish you the best in finding where to live in London. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!
Happy neighborhood hunting,
If you enjoyed this London neighborhood guide be sure to read up on the best things to do and see in London here!