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An Expat's Guide to Living in Chelsea, London 

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We all know that London is indeed a vibrant city to live in, and that no single neighbourhood has the same vibe. 

After 10 years living in London, South-west London has been my home and I am happy to share the best parts of my favourite neighbourhood – Chelsea. 

Living in Chelsea is a charm. You feel like part of a movie. The houses are perfectly decorated outside and inside (sometimes you can have a peak through a window!), the pubs are cute and welcoming, the shops are luxurious & tempting, the neighbours’ dogs are well groomed, and they even have top clothing!

Where Is Chelsea?

A sunny day in Chelsea

First things first, let's get our bearings. There are a lot of fantastic neighbourhoods in London but for me, living in Chelsea has been great. Chelsea is located in West London, right next to Central London, south from Hyde Park and on the northern banks of the River Thames.

In reality, the Chelsea neighbourhood goes far beyond the areas around Kings Road and Sloane Square. Chelsea extends to Brompton, touches the edges of Knightsbridge in the North East of the neighbourhood, Parsons Green on the west and Battersea south of the river.

I navigate through Chelsea in relation to Kings Rd. Kings Road crosses Chelsea for 1 mile and= connects Sloane Square Station (District line, zone 1) to Worlds End - on the edge with Parson Green.

This neighbourhood is full of charm and history. It is where the Royal Hospital is located with the Chelsea Pensioners (the famous retired Beefeaters). 

Pros & Cons of Living in Chelsea

Chelsea is an amazing place to live and straight away I only thing of pros. You have the city’s best shops, best food hubs, and the cutest houses. The locals who live here are charming and very well educated. Stereotypically, this is a very high end, affluent area. The location itself is great as you'll be well-connected to other London areas, the architecture and small streets are beautiful, and you can enjoy some green spaces on the Chelsea Embankment and the other city parks.

Every place has cons, however, and for Chelsea there is only one con: the price. Living in this little paradise bubble comes with a high cost of living and it is a rather large price tag.

You can expect to pay a lot of a house. Renting starts at £2500 per month for a studio flat up £5000 for a one bedroom house. Not many people rent rooms in Chelsea. It happens a group of people/friend and relatives rending together one house.

Public Transport

Typical architecture in Chelsea

This part of London is well connected, especially to West London. It has one underground stop in Sloane Square on the east of Kings Road in the District Line, and Knightsbridge’s Station (Picadilly Line) which is a 15 minute walk north from Chelsea main roads.

There are plenty of buses that can you to main areas of South London such as:

  • 211 from Waterloo to Hammersmith
  • 319 from Sloane Sq to Streatham via Clapham Junction
  • 11 from Waterloo to Fulham from Road
  • 22 from Green Park to Putney

Where Not to Live Within Chelsea

For some people, it is not immediately noticeable what is a bad area of a neighbourhood and a good one. Specially when the neighbourhood is urban chic Chelsea.

All of London’s neighbourhoods have less appealing areas. These can be consider less nice/safe/beautiful to live and it will depend very much on your parameters to evaluate the location.

For example, in Chelsea, the area “World Ends” is not a popular place to live and the houses are smaller, more in blocks - called council flats. You can have a feel of similar areas by how the streets are preserved, rubbish is collected, and the shapes of the buildings in general.

When walking through Chelsea on the north side of Kings Road (Ixworth Place, SW3), you can spot another small group of buildings that is not preferred to live in and definitely not the most well spoken about. This group of buildings aren’t associated to an area of Chelsea like “Worlds End” and it is rather surrounded by very high end penthouses.

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Best Things to Do in Chelsea

The imaginative Chelsea Flower Show

My favourite things to do in Chelsea are definitely taking advantage of the great shopping and romanticising my life either by dreaming of owning a home in a mews or just grabbing my favourite hot chocolate on my way to work. 

Chelsea is one of London's best neighbourhoods to shop. All high-end fashion retailers and designer boutiques are present in the infamous Kings Road and inside of Peter Jones department store. Although these places aren't secrets, there are still plenty of hidden gems to find as you wander.

Annual Events in Chelsea

Apart of this lifestyle moments, I become a fanatic of two big events in Chelsea every year: 

Chelsea Flower Show 

Every year Chelsea hosts the most beautiful event called: RHS Chelsea Flower Show. 

It gathers gardeners, architects, garden decorators from all over the world, thousands of people come to this event to present their art around gardening and flowers. It was the favourite event of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Although it is hard to get tickets and/or they are expensive, the Chelsea Flower Show attracts people from all over the world and tickets fly out in hours of release. 

During the event week it is a must to visit this neighbourhood. All the shops show off their flower arrangements, and Chelsea blooms – it is incredible to see. 

Chelsea during Christmas

During the Christmas period, Chelsea is a great place to go shopping. Not only that, but this part of London also offers a small market in York Square, and the best decoration spots. 

Similarly, to the Chelsea Flower Show, during Christmas all shops, restaurants, and the majority of Chelsea’s townhouses become Christmas ready with the most stunning trees, ornaments, Nut Crackers in every corner. You can expect to see Christmas carols, mulled wine being sold in pubs and the incredible story telling shopping windows!

If you are looking for authentic English lifestyle, decor, and the best shopping without the queues during Christmas, Chelsea is the place to go. 

Best Restaurants in Chelsea

Pavilion Road in Chelsea

Like majority of this cosmopolitan city, Chelsea has a lot of food and drinks options. Here are some of my must tries when in Chelsea: 

La Mia Mama (Italian)

Traditional Italian restaurant in the heart of the neighbourhood, La Mia Mamma is run by actually ‘nonnas’ (grandmother in Italian), and every three months the restaurant brings these great grandmothers’ from Italy, so they cook their best recipes in this restaurant – How cool is this, trust me, it is even tastier! 

Phoenix Pub in Chelsea (British Gastro Pub)

Just off the Kings Road, the Phoenix offers the best pub vibes. It is perfect if you want to experience a traditional pub with a twist on pub food. The dining area is makes you feel you are in an antique living room. They run a good pub quiz on Sundays!

Bluebird (Great Style & Steaks)

When in Chelsea you need to dine at Bluebird. It is one of the most trendy places in the Kings Road and offers a modern British menu. You can expect robust steaks and great wine list. The best part of this place is the decoration and the service!  

OKA Chelsea (The Best of Asia) 

Chelsea is a cosmopolitan neighbourhood; it attracts all nationalities and so all cuisines! You can expect the best prawn tempura and the tastiest dragon roll sushi at OKA. Make sure you book ahead especially on Fridays as the queues can take up to 2 hours. 

Comptoir (Lebanese)

Surrounded by the most glamorous boutique shops, the Comptoir offers a range of lunch and snacky solutions – My mum says that the best foods are colourful, if you agree, Comptoir is for you!  

For brunch options, make sure you wander around Pavilion Rd. There are more than twenty options for brunch focused places, artisan cafeterias and natural juice shops. For Saturday and Sunday tables, book ahead!

Are You Moving to Chelsea, Too?

Cute shops that line the streets in Chelsea

I have been very fortunate to call Chelsea my neighbourhood for almost two years, and although I recently moved to another neighbourhood in South-West London, Chelsea will forever have a special place in my heart! 

I normally share my travel experiences around London on my Instagram account so don’t forget to follow me there. When I am on the go, I journal my trips and share the dos and don’ts on my blog.

I hope this post will inspire you to move to Chelsea or at the vert least visit this charming neighbourhood and experience all that the area has to offer. 

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