Well, well…it’s been a while since I’ve revisited neighborhood overviews on where to rent an apartment! Now, if you’ve been following this series, understand that the neighborhoods here are too many in number to detail out one-by-one, so I’ve been approaching this on an overall area-by-area basis and highlighting those neighborhoods most popular among expats. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a difference between where you’d live if you were settling down for the long-haul versus getting the London experience for a few years, so most expats desire to stay central, in the middle of the action, with the exception of families who out of necessity need to go further out for more space, better schools, etc. And there are also city neighborhoods that just aren’t that great—they’re unsafe, not well maintained, or simply don’t have much of anything going on or for them. So that caveat aside, I do hope this overview is helpful as you narrow down where to live in London.
So now, for the Southwest postcodes:
SW1 – Belgravia, Brompton, Millbank, Pimlico, St. James’s, Victoria, Westminster
SW2 – Brixton, Brixton Hill, Streatham Hill
SW3 – Brompton, Chelsea
SW4 – Clapham, Clapham Park
SW5 – Earl’s Court
SW6 – Fulham, Parson’s Green
SW7 – Brompton, South Kensington
SW8 – Nine Elms, South Lambeth, Vauxhall
SW9 – Brixton, Stockwell
SW10 – Chelsea, West Brompton, World’s End
SW11 – Battersea, Clapham Junction
SW12 – Balham
SW13 – Barnes, Castelnau
SW14 – East Sheen, Mortlake
SW15 – Putney, Putney Heath, Putney Vale, Roehampton
SW16 – Norbury, Streatham, Streatham Park, Streatham Vale
SW17 – Furzedown, Summerstown, Tooting
SW18 – Earlsfield, Wandsworth
SW19 – Collier’s Wood, Merton, Putney Vale, South Wimbledon, Southfields, Wimbledon, Wimbledon Park
SW20 – Bushy Mead, Copse Hill, Cottenham Park, Raynes Park, South Wimbledon, West Wimbledon
As you might figure, SW1 is very much central and in the thick of tourism—yes, it’s Westminster as in Parliament and the Abbey, and Victoria as in Victoria rail station. This also puts you in close proximity to Buckingham Palace and some theatres. While hotels and businesses are abundant in this area, there is nonetheless some nice housing tucked away on surprisingly quiet streets not far from Victoria station. I believe SW3 also captures Knightsbridge, which is the posh shopping area where Harrods is located with just as posh (a.k.a., nice, but super expensive) housing. A lot of expats with medium to high-end budgets (say, £325+/week) in southwest London tend to live in postcodes SW5-10—Earl’s Court, South Kensington, and Chelsea are very popular with Americans as they have a classic London aesthetic of white-columned Victorian terraced houses and feel quietly residential while still close walking distance to gobs of shops and restaurants. Lady Diana used to live on Old Brompton Road when she was courting Prince Charles, just a block or so from the site of Beatrix Potter‘s home (author of Peter Rabbit) in the very upscale blocks known as The Boltons (where the houses are still actually houses, not cut up into flats like where the rest of us live :)).
Going west of Earls Court, the area around West Brompton station gets a bit more urban and deteriorated, yet eventually Fulham Broadway delivers a great hub of locally-owned restaurants (including Bodeans, which is American-owned and serves up BBQ and plays American sports on TV!), pubs, shopping, cinema and the nearby Chelsea Football Club. Going yet further into SW6, you enter into more residential, family-oriented neighborhoods that offer pretty walks along the Thames river and an abundance of green space, including Wandsworth Park, Bishop Park, Walham Green, Eel Brook, and Parsons Green. This is also where the famous Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race takes place, from Putney Bridge to the Fulham Football Club (one of the oldest, if not the oldest football clubs in London). Overall, the Putney/Parsons Green area feels almost suburban with very quaint high streets and good access to the City.
SW11 is a little more urban and rougher around the edges in spots than the above, but still a good value and increasingly middle class with some new, trendy venues. The historically industrial Battersea offers a lot of reasonably-priced newer construction for those not seeking period renovations, and its enormous Battersea Park off the river is a delight to stroll, run, bike, and even paddle around (Clapham likewise offers its Clapham Common). And as we start heading out toward SW20, we really get into more of a suburban sprawl. Wimbledon is well-known for its tennis tournament, but the surrounding area is also very conducive to families and those on a budget, providing a high quality of life with access to its own town center of all the high street amenities to keep it self-sufficient, as it’ll be more of a jaunt to access the City (probably at least 45 minutes to its center via tube, though overground rail is also an option). Other favored locations in this general Southwest area on the outskirts of London are Richmond and Kew, which, like Wimbledon, are absolutely lovely and ideal if you’re settling down for a while and want more space for the money. Green space reigns with Richmond’s river-walk and Richmond Park, and Kew is the site of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Hopefully this is helping you get one step closer to finding that ideal apartment (which, of course, is a guarantee if you further consult our expert services!).