London is a dynamic capital that invites expats to immerse themselves in a world rich with history, culture, and new opportunities. I'm Brazilian, and I've been living in London for a few years now! It all started back in 2017 when I decided to pursue my master's degree in the UK.
I was living in a town that is a short train journey to London, which allowed me to visit the city on several weekend trips before finally moving here the following year. After making my way to the bustling streets of the capital, I fell in love with the fast-paced lifestyle and its rich diversity of cultures, not to mention its lovely parks, colorful houses, and quaint mews streets that always provide great content for social media!
So, if you've fallen in love with this city, too, let's take a look at the best London neighborhoods for you to call your new home.
Familiarizing Yourself with London Neighborhoods
Once you've taken a weekend trip or two here and have deciding that you want to live in London, you need to decide where in this fabulous metropolis. And while I wish it was as easy as picking the cutest London neighborhood and settling it, understanding the general cost of living in London is essential for anyone considering a move to this vibrant city.
While the English capital offers an array of opportunities and experiences, it's no secret that it can be an expensive place to reside. If cost of living is deterring you from making the move, you might prefer living in Leeds or Manchester instead.
Living here comes with its own set of financial considerations. Accommodation costs, particularly rent, can vary greatly depending on the area. Choosing the right neighborhood in London is a deeply personal decision, influenced by various factors such as budget, commute, and social connections. To help you decide, let's explore some of the top places to live in London!
Please note that not all the neighborhoods are covered in this article, this is just a brief overview of great places to live in different areas of London.
Best Places To Live in Central London
Central London is located right in the heart of the city. As the city center, it covers much of the tourist attractions and well-known areas of London, like the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Westminster, and Buckingham Palace. You'll be just a short walk from some of the most popular places to see in London, which could be a good or bad thing based on your interests.
Within all of this is a variety of distinct neighborhoods. Many of the best neighborhoods to live in London are obviously concentrated here in Central London, each with its own unique charm and attractions for expat residents.
Nestled near Buckingham Palace, Belgravia exudes an air of refinement. This upscale neighborhood features stunning Georgian architecture, serene garden squares, and a peaceful ambiance. Expats in Belgravia can enjoy a sophisticated lifestyle, with a range of high-end shops, fine dining options, and exclusive clubs nearby. Its proximity to notable landmarks adds to its allure.
Adjacent to Belgravia, Knightsbridge is synonymous with luxury living. It is home to renowned department stores like Harrods and Harvey Nichols, offering an unparalleled shopping experience. The unique brick buildings and stately townhouses give the area an air of prestige.
As you might already assume, it's worth noting that Knightsbridge is one of the pricier neighborhoods in London, reflecting its opulent character. For expats seeking the epitome of luxury and can afford the heavy price tags, Knightsbridge is an excellent choice.
Mayfair is also synonymous with timeless elegance and prestige. It is one of London's most sought-after neighborhoods, known for its grand Georgian townhouses, exclusive members' clubs, and high-end art galleries. Expats in Mayfair will find themselves at the heart of London's luxury scene, with Bond Street, Berkeley Square, and the Royal Academy of Arts just a short distance away.
While living in Mayfair comes at a premium, the unparalleled access to culture, shopping, and dining make it a top choice for discerning expats.
Just north of Mayfair, Marylebone is a haven for expats seeking a mix of culture, convenience, and culinary delights. Marylebone High Street is lined with charming independent shops, trendy cafes, and international restaurants, ensuring residents have everything they need within easy reach. The area also offers cultural gems like the Wallace Collection and the Sherlock Holmes Museum, providing a delightful blend of leisure and education.
Best Places To Live in West London
Heading to West London, across Hyde Park, one of London's best parks, we have some of my favorite London neighborhoods! Boasting many of the best places to live in London, this region offers an array of residential options to suit various preferences and lifestyles.
Notting Hill is a beloved neighborhood renowned for its lively spirit, colorful streets, and the renowned Portobello Road Market. Most people have heard of this neighborhood thanks to the late 90s rom com by the same name that so dreamily depicted the charming atmosphere and brightly painted homes.
Notting Hill exudes a lively energy, with an array of quirky shops, cozy cafes, and a diverse cultural scene. Notting Hill's unique character and iconic market make it a favored choice for those seeking an engaging and dynamic community.
Holland Park offers a more serene yet equally enchanting experience in London's West End. Its tree-lined streets and graceful townhouses create an atmosphere of sophistication. The park itself, a green oasis in the heart of the city, provides a peaceful retreat for residents and means you'll have plenty of green space when living here. Cultural gems like the celebrated Design Museum further enrich the area, making it an appealing choice for those seeking a refined yet tranquil environment.
South Kensington stands as a cultural epicenter of West London, celebrated for its world-class museums including the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Science Museum. This neighborhood harmonizes intellectual stimulation with a lively high street, offering an abundance of local shops, restaurants, and cafes.
The cosmopolitan ambiance and easy access to some of London's finest cultural institutions make South Kensington an excellent choice for residents.
Kensington epitomizes timeless elegance and architectural splendor. The splendid houses and avenues lined with trees create an ambiance of refined grandeur. With Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park nearby, residents have access to expansive green spaces for leisure and rejuvenation. This area exudes a classic charm, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate a touch of opulence in their daily surroundings. Its also home to one of London's prettiest mew streets.
Chelsea & Sloane Square
The West London neighborhood's of Chelsea and Sloane Square embody chic urban living. This area is renowned for its upscale boutiques, designer stores, and trendy dining spots. The King's Road, a famous shopping street, adds to the area's allure.
Alongside the shopping scene, Chelsea offers a unique charm, with its leafy quiet residential streets and historic architecture, making it a favored choice for those seeking a cosmopolitan yet intimate residential experience.
Chiswick offers a local, residential feel with its historic houses and village-like atmosphere. The area boasts a strong sense of community, with independent shops, coffee shops, and many green spaces. The riverfront along the Thames adds to Chiswick's allure, offering a tranquil escape from the urban bustle while still being well-connected to the city.
St. John’s Wood
St. John’s Wood appeals to expat families with its peaceful atmosphere and proximity to attractions like Lord's Cricket Ground and the world-famous Abbey Road Studios. The tree-lined streets and spacious homes create a family-friendly environment, making it one of the most sought after locations for those looking for a balance of urban convenience and suburban tranquility.
Maida Vale & Little Venice
Maida Vale and Little Venice offer a unique waterside living experience along the picturesque Regent's Canal. The charming canal-side cafes, houseboats, and tree-lined avenues create a serene atmosphere. This area provides a peaceful retreat while still being well-connected to Central London, making it one of London's best hidden gems for those seeking a tranquil residential setting.
Best Places To Live in North London
Much like the other London neighborhoods on this list, North London can offer its residents a little bit of everything: vibrant markets, ample green space, a fun nightlife, and trendy restaurants. If you choose to live in North London, you won't miss out on anything that brought you to the city in the first place.
Heading North, Hampstead stands out for its charm, green spaces, and central location as one of the best places to live in London. As one of North London's crown jewels, this neighborhood is renowned for its enchanting ambiance, lush green spaces, and central location. Residents of Hampstead enjoy easy access to the city center while being nestled amidst the beauty of Hampstead Heath.
While housing prices may tend to be on the higher side, the charm and convenience offered by Hampstead make it an exceptional choice for those seeking a well-rounded living experience.
Primrose Hill, adjacent to Hampstead, offers some of the most picturesque views of the London skyline. It's a fantastic choice when choosing between North London neighborhoods for its views alone. This neighborhood combines a central location with a peaceful ambiance, making it a favored choice for those who appreciate both urban convenience and natural beauty.
It's worth noting that living in Primrose Hill comes with a premium price tag, reflecting the area's desirability and exclusivity. Just like Hampstead, you're going to have to shell out to afford to live in this London neighborhood.
For those seeking a more affordable housing yet equally charming alternative, Belsize Park is an excellent option. This neighborhood offers a welcoming community, tree-lined streets, and a range of amenities.
While Belsize Park provides a slightly more budget-friendly option compared to its neighboring counterparts, it does not compromise on its appeal, making it an attractive choice for those looking for a balanced living experience in North London.
Best Places To Live in East London
When it comes to living costs, East London generally offers a more affordable option compared to West London. East London is an up and coming area in terms of popularity and also provides a diverse, culturally rich living experience with vibrant arts scenes and accessible amenities. Although experiencing gentrification, it still tends to have a wider range of options for different budgets than West London.
So, let's explore some of the best areas to call home in East London, each offering its own unique character, amenities, and cultural offerings.
Shoreditch is a cultural epicenter, celebrated for its artistic spirit and entrepreneurial energy. This vibrant neighborhood is a magnet for creatives, tech professionals, and trendsetters. The streets are adorned with striking street art, while the area boasts a thriving nightlife and a plethora of independent boutiques.
With a diverse range of restaurants and bars, Shoreditch offers a dynamic urban lifestyle that caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences.
Hackney is a melting pot of cultures, known for its artistic community and lush parks. This area strikes a harmonious balance between urban buzz and tranquil retreats. From the bustling markets to the serene green spaces, Hackney offers a unique blend of cultural richness and community engagement.
The housing options range from converted warehouses to period homes, providing something for everyone. Although you might feel too far from the city center living in Hackney, you'll find it well connected on the bus routes and the Underground.
Canary Wharf is the epitome of modernity, known as East London's financial district. This thriving business hub boasts a striking skyline, luxurious apartments, and an array of high-end amenities. From designer shops to fine dining establishments, Canary Wharf offers a wealth of lifestyle options.
With its proximity to major corporate offices and seamless transport connections, this neighborhood is an excellent choice for professionals moving to London seeking a sophisticated urban lifestyle.
Best Places To Live in South London
For simplicity of this article, for South London, I'm including my favorite pick for London neighborhoods south of the River Thames. We'll cover Southeast London neighborhoods and Southwest London neighborhoods in one swing.
Stately homes like Ham House add a cultural touch, and Richmond Green is an inviting spot to observe local cricket matches.
Vauxhall, Battersea, & Wandsworth
The neighborhoods along the River Thames, including Vauxhall, Battersea, and Wandsworth, offer a blend of modern urban living and riverside charm. With excellent transport links, cultural attractions, and a range of dining options, these areas have become popular choices for professionals and families seeking a dynamic yet tranquil residential experience in South London.
In the Southwest, Battersea, along the Thames, has gained popularity with its riverside walking paths in Battersea Park and charming pockets. Wandsworth boasts parks, local pubs, and picturesque streets, making it an attractive residential choice. Vauxhall, a fast-transforming neighborhood, offers unique cafes, riverside walks, and serene green spaces.
Vauxhall, with its riverside walks and proximity to key transport hubs, Battersea, known for its picturesque parks and Battersea Power Station redevelopment, and Wandsworth, with its green spaces and family-friendly atmosphere, each offer a unique living experience.
Clapham is a popular choice for young professionals and families alike. This lively neighborhood offers a mix of stylish bars, restaurants, and boutique shops along with spacious, leafy parks. Clapham Common, in particular, provides a hub for outdoor activities and a gathering place for the community. Excellent transport links, including the Northern Line and Overground, make it easy to explore other parts of the city.
Greenwich, steeped in history and home to the iconic Greenwich Mean Time, offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern conveniences. This riverside district boasts picturesque views, historic architecture, and a vibrant market.
With its expansive park, world-class maritime museum, and easy access to Central London via the DLR, Greenwich provides an idyllic setting for residents seeking a mix of culture and natural beauty.
Richmond, located in the southwest of London, is celebrated for its stunning location along the River Thames. This South London neighborhood combines natural beauty with city amenities, offering a unique living experience. With its lush parks, historical landmarks, bustling high streets, and a delightful town center, Richmond provides a peaceful escape that's still conveniently close to Central London. However, it's worth noting that living in Richmond tends to be on the higher end in terms of housing costs.
Ultimately, the perfect neighborhood is a blend of personal preference and practical considerations. By weighing the unique attributes of each area against your own lifestyle and needs, you can find the London neighborhood that truly feels like home.
Tips For Expats Moving To London
Navigating the Apartment Hunt
When it comes to finding a place to call home and take advantage of London city life, it's advisable to begin your search early and establish a clear budget that covers rent, utilities, and other expenses. Utilize resources like Zoopla, Rightmove, and SpareRoom to explore available options.
Viewing multiple properties will provide you with a better understanding of what's available, helping you make a more informed decision. Also, consider the proximity to public transport, as it can significantly impact your daily routine.
In addition to the London neighborhoods mentioned, there are hidden gems like Bermondsey and Southwark, which offer a unique blend of historic charm and modern convenience. These areas are popular among young professionals and families alike.
Settling into Expat Life
Settling into expat life in London offers a wealth of enriching experiences. The city's diverse and inclusive nature ensures there's a welcoming community for everyone.
Join Expat Groups or Local Clubs
Consider joining expat groups or local clubs related to your interests; they provide a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and forge lasting connections. If you want the fast pass to make friends, this is it.
Exploring the city's cultural festivals, food markets, and art exhibitions can be a great way to immerse yourself in the local scene. Additionally, London boasts a wide variety of international cuisine, making it easy to find a taste of home.
Use Public Transportation
Embracing the public transport system, including the iconic red buses and the Underground, can be a key to unlocking the city's many wonders. It not only offers convenience but also allows you to discover hidden gems that may be off the beaten path. Furthermore, taking the time to explore London's nearby countryside and historic towns on a weekend away provides a refreshing contrast to the bustling urban life.
In essence, integrating into expat life in London is a journey of discovery, where every corner of the city and its surroundings holds the promise of new experiences and meaningful connections.
Exploring the Social Scene
London's social scene caters to a wide range of interests and tastes, ensuring there's something enjoyable for everyone. Dive into the cultural wealth of the city by visiting all its free museums like the British Museum, Tate Modern, and the V&A. The city's markets, from Borough Market to Portobello Road Market, offer a delightful mix of shopping and dining experiences.
For those seeking a break from the urban hustle and bustle, London's expansive parks and green spaces provide an oasis of calm. Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath, and Regent's Park offer opportunities for leisurely walks and moments of peaceful reflection amidst the natural beauty of the city.
Additionally, don't miss out on the vibrant theater scene and live music venues like the O2 Arena and the Roundhouse. London also offers world-class theaters and performance spaces. Whether you prefer the grandeur of the West End or the intimate settings in places like Camden and Covent Garden, there's a rich variety of theatrical and artistic offerings to explore.
The city's nightlife is well-known for its lively atmosphere, and neighborhoods like Shoreditch and Soho are particularly famous for their bustling pubs, bars, and clubs, each with its unique vibe that appeals to night owls.
The culinary landscape in London is exceptionally diverse, offering everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to bustling food markets like Borough Market. This gastronomic variety ensures that there's something to satisfy every palate and culinary curiosity.
London's social scene is a vibrant tapestry of entertainment, culture, culinary delights, and opportunities to connect with others as there's always a wealth of experiences to be discovered in this lively metropolis.
The City Throughout The Seasons
London undergoes a captivating transformation with each passing season.
- Spring brings cherry blossoms and vibrant blooms, painting parks with a burst of color.
- Summer is a time of outdoor festivals and leisurely strolls along the Thames, with the city pulsing with energy.
- As autumn arrives, leaves carpet parks in rich hues, offering a moment of quiet reflection.
- Winter transforms London into a wonderland of lights and festivities. Iconic landmarks sparkle with holiday decorations, and Christmas markets offer festive treats.
Before moving to London, there's something in particular I wish I knew in advance: the winter months of January and February, following the holidays, can be tough, and the social scene tends to be much quieter. I believe these are the least enjoyable months of the year to be in the city. Therefore, you can see them as an opportunity to plan a longer trip if you have the chance to do so!
Moving to London is an exciting adventure, full of opportunities for personal and professional growth. With careful planning and a sense of adventure, you'll find this city to be a welcoming and vibrant place to call home.
Don't forget to pack comfortable walking shoes, adapters for electronics, and versatile clothing suitable for very different weather conditions. London awaits, ready to offer you a world of experiences!
I often share snippets of my London life on my Instagram account (@mariandthecity), so don't forget to follow me there if you're interested in discovering both hotspots and hidden gems. For even more information on the English Capital, including area guides and places that are worth visiting, be sure to check out my blog! If you're planning to move soon, I have plenty of helpful London resources to make the move seem less daunting. I hope this article will assist you in settling into your new life in this amazing city!