Some of my most frequently asked questions are about moving within London, from what movers to use to which neighborhoods to look in. I figured that the easiest way to to help would be to put all of this information down in one handy place. So today I’m sharing all of my tips and tricks for moving around within London!
A GUIDE TO MOVING IN LONDON
I regularly get asked about which neighborhoods those who are making the move to London should live. I find it to be a really tricky question to answer as there is no one size fits all area. It will depend on so many things such as your budget, where you work and if you’ll have to commute, what you value in a flat (space and greenery or being at the center of the action?), and even what style of home you’re after. Here are few general recommendations that I can give based on my experience – I hope you find them helpful, but be sure to do further research as well!
- Central London (Chelsea, Kensington, Notting Hill, Marylebone, St. John’s Wood): These are all great areas for anyone first moving to London. The rent will be high, the flats will be small, and you likely won’t have outdoor space – but if you’re someone who likes to be a stones throw away from the best shops and restaurants in town, then these are the spots for you. I always recommend them to London newbies if budget allows as it’s so convenient to be at the heart of things during your first few years! And if budget isn’t an issue, you can get some really beautiful and spacious flats in these areas. Unlike in NYC, you can find flats with large gardens right in the heart of things. It just costs more!
- West London (Chiswick, Richmond, Hampton Wick, Teddington): If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I’m a west London girl at heart. I started out in Chelsea (which is west central) and am now settled in Richmond. I would recommend these areas to anyone wanting more outdoor space and greenery, but still with easy links into central London. Between Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Kew Gardens, and the Thames River walk, there is no shortage of outdoor spaces in these areas. It honestly feels as though I live in the country sometimes when I’m just a quick train ride into central. You can also get more space for you money in these areas if size is important for you.
- South West London (Clapham, Battersea, Wandsworth): SW London is a popular area for young expats. I have many friends in each and looked at a few places in Clapham during my flat search. I think there was a time where these places used to be more affordable than central, but over the past few years I’ve really seen the demand for these areas go up and with it the rent prices. Clapham is really fun and buzzy, so you if you like a boozy brunch vibe this could be a good area for you. Battersea has a lot of brand new build apartments, so if you don’t care for historic homes and want brand spankin’ new everything, Battersea is something to consider. These all still have great links into London, and you can even walk into Chelsea and Kensington if you wanted.
- East London (Shoreditch, Angel, Islington, Hampstead): As I mentioned above, I’m a West London girl at heart, so I can’t speak to East London as well as I’d like to. Shoreditch is the equivalent of the Lower East Side in NYC – not that long ago you wouldn’t dare go there, but nowadays it’s one of the trendiest neighborhoods with an ever-expanding foodie and art scene. If that’s your kind of vibe, then Shoreditch would a great place to start your search. Angel and Islington are both really lovely and I have a few friends who live in those areas and adore it. I think Hampstead is sort of comparable to Richmond only it’s on the east side – the beautiful Hampstead Heath is right on your doorstep and it has really easy links into central.
Lastly, I want to emphasize how long it takes to get from one end of London to the other. Coming from NYC, where a commute of over 30 minutes was considered a long haul, this took me a long time to get used to. London is SO spread out, to get from Richmond in West London to Hampstead in East London will take you a solid 75 minutes. I know things are more flexible right now with work from home policies, but I wouldn’t disregard the location of your office (or uni, or wherever you will be needing to commute to the most) during your search. In fact, after budget, I think it’s the most important factor to consider. So keep that in mind when you’re researching neighborhoods!
HOW TO FIND A FLAT
Rightmove is definitely the best place to start getting an idea of what the market is looking like in the neighborhoods you’re interested in. I found my current one bedroom flat directly on Rightmove, and I also have many other friends who found their places via Rightmove. Another thing that’s great about the site is once you start enquiring about properties, it connects you with the local real estate branch that handles them. I found it really helpful to get on the local real estate email lists, as a lot of times they have access to new properties before they even go up on Rightmove.
If you’re coming over alone and can’t afford a one bedroom on your own, but don’t know anyone to room with, then SpareRoom is going to be your go-to. It’s a site set up specifically for the purpose of helping people rent one bedroom within a larger house. You usually message directly with the current flatmates, and you can set up viewing times to go see the house, meet everyone, and determine if you get on. I met my flatmates in my old place in Notting Hill through SpareRoom, and while our time together was very short-lived due the pandemic, they we’re both so lovely!
THE BEST MOVING COMPANY
I often get asked about London moving company recommendations, as it can be so hard to know if you’re booking a trustworthy service. Without a doubt, Fantastic Services is the only moving company I would recommend when moving in London. I’ve used them twice now, and they’re simply the best. Not only have they arrived promptly on time (both times!), but they had me out of my old flat and into my new one within two hours. They took extra care with my breakables, such as my large mirror, and wrapped them securely in bubble wrap and moving blankets. Absolutely nothing was broken in either move, not even a glass! Fantastic Services truly made the entire moving process stress-free, which is really saying something because I think we can all agree that moving is so stressful.
The second time I used them was after the first Covid lockdown, and both men followed all necessary safety precautions. They wore face masks and gloves throughout the entire process, and had covers over their shoes. It’s also worth mentioning that they offer things like wardrobe boxes, which are such a time saver if you have a lot of hanging clothing. It was so nice to know while I was packing that I could just leave my clothes hanging in my closet! The movers even packed them up into the boxes for me. I didn’t lift a finger on either occasion, which is really a blessing on a moving day.
Fantastic Services also offer a range of other things, from gardening to cleaning to pressure washing (I need to have them come over this spring to help with my patio!). I can’t recommend the company enough, and I wouldn’t trust a London move with anyone but Fantastic Services.
I hope this post has been helpful for anyone moving in London. As always, feel free to reach out to me directly should you have any specific questions!