Best Places to Live in London in Your 20s

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

So you are moving to London? The thing is, London is a very big place. The capital is made up from hundreds of separate areas, each with their own quirks, benefits, disadvantages and price tags.

The area you choose has to work for you, in terms of your pocket, what you like to do and most of all, where you have to commute to. There is no point in moving to that leafy idyll in Kew if you need to get to Canary Wharf by 7.30 every morning.

Before you decide where to live, it makes sense to do plenty of research, speak to as many people as you can and visit as many areas as possible. That is the theory. What most people do (myself included) is fall in love with an area when on a visit, and then make that work somehow.

Some of the things you might want to think about are:

  • Assuming you aren't working from home, what is the commute like? If you are going to have to travel to different places, are you near a transport hub?
  • What is your budget? Work out what you can afford to spend each month on rent. The easiest way to do this is to use an online budgeting tool like this one, which should prevent overlooking any key expenses, like council tax. Once you have an idea of how much you can afford on rent, you can then start to research areas.

    This heatmap shows the lie of the land. Basically, it is the most expensive in the centre, and it gets progressively cheaper as you move out. Bear in mind that this heatmap shows the averages. There will definitely be cheaper streets that you can look at if you are desperate to live in a particular area.
  • How do you spend your leisure time? If a Chelsea season ticket is your main reason for coming to London, then that limits where you might want to live. If you plan to go kite-surfing on the south coast every weekend then easy access to the M3 is going to be key. If you want lively nightlife, then Brixton or Shoreditch might work well. There are more details on some of the most popular areas below.
  • Are you close (enough) to local amenities like parks, the gym, supermarkets and transport? There is nothing worse than get off at your stop and still having to face a 15 minute walk in the rain.
  • Is the neighbourhood safe? More precisely, are you going to feel safe enough coming home late at night? It is normal to feel a little anxious when moving to a new city or area, but you shouldn't be petrified everytime you step outside your door. Find a different area if that is the case.

Some of the areas you might want to consider are listed below. Average rental prices are from the London Rents Map

London areas for young professionals


The Hoxton knot. Sums up the area perfectly

Hoxton is just north of the financial district, sandwiched between Hackney to the east and Islington to the west. It is perfect if your job is in the city, and means a brisk walk or cycle to get to work everyday. That is priceless IMHO.

Hoxton is hipster central. Skinny jeans and artisan coffee is de rigour. The area around Old Street is known as Silicon Roundabout due to the large number of tech firms and startups in the area. It has been described as Gentrification's ground zero

Average rent 1 bed flat£1300 per month
Average rent room£650+ per month
Social media says
Estate agents say "The area has its own vibe but also offers easy access to other social hubs including Shoreditch, Spitalfields, the City, Islington and Brick Lane."

Butler & Stag

Hoxton at a glance


Street art in Chance Street, Shoreditch

Photo © Marathon

Street art in Chance Street, Shoreditch

Shoreditch actually includes Hoxton and extends further north. Hoxton is kind of a separate village, and distinctly more expensive, so we are showing it separately.

Shoreditch is also full of hipster beards and mochaccino's, but is less corporate and probably more exciting. Be warned though, Hackney, the broader area, is currently the 7th most dangerous place to live in London.

Average rent 1 bed flat£1300 per month
Average rent room£ 550-650 per month
Social media says
Estate agents say "Shoreditch is famous throughout London for its industrial heritage and creative roots. Today, it is a haven for artists and creativities and typifies the attractive eccentricities of London life.
Shoreditch is perhaps most famous for its food, art and shopping amenities. The pop-up shops in Boxpark are a crowd favourite, as is Dinerama just down the road."

Stirling Ackroyd

Shoreditch at a glance

East Dulwich

The Actress, Public House, East Dulwich

Photo © David Anstiss

The Actress in East Dulwich

East Dulwich is a gem in South London. It is perfect if you want a village feel. You'll find independent butchers and lifestyle businesses galore. The cat quote below sums up ED.

Being an SE postcode, there are no tubes in the area. There is a direct train to London Bridge and lots of buses. This means two things: it is cheaper to live here than more edgy inner-city areas; and, it is really hard to get back to late at night. If clubbing is your thing, probably look elsewhere.

Average rent 1 bed flat£1100-1300 per month
Average rent room£500-550 per month
Social media says
Estate agents say " Dulwich may have a London postcode, but our area has a friendly, welcoming feel that's rare in the capital. For example, you'll often find neighbours actually talk to each other here. The last ten years have seen many young professionals and young families making their homes here, attracted by the great primary schools and the fact that it is only 12 minutes from London Bridge as well as all the things to do and places to go out. "


East Dulwich at a glance

Bermondsey and Borough

View into Potters Field

Photo © Robin Sones

Peeking into Potters Field

Borough and Bermondsey is the area around London Bridge just south of the river. The neighbourhood has undergone significant development especially More London and Potters Field near to the Mayor's office, with green space, shops and even a theatre, The Bridge.

Like many parts of London, there are super expensive apartments with stunning views in the area rubbing shoulders with areas of real poverty and deprivation. From the point of view of finding a place to live, this means there are loads of options here to suit all budgets. It would be a particularly good place if you work in the City - you can just walk across London Bridge, saving you both travel costs and the stress of commuting.

Average rent 1 bed flat£1300 per month
Average rent room£550-650 per month
Social media says
Estate agents say "Borough Market is the oldest market in London. An active market for 1000 years, originally held in Borough High Street until complaints about traffic congestion forced it to move to its current site south of the cathedral.
The Victorian cast iron and glass structure of Borough Market was built to sell produce from Kent to the trade, but is now home to restaurants, food stalls and outlets for fresh, wholesome food from all over Britain. Know affectionately as the Larder Garden."

Daniel Cobb

Bermondsey and Borough at a glance


Clapham Common in Autumn

Chris Reynolds / Autumn Reflections in Mount Pond, Clapham Common

Is this really central London? Clapham Common in Autumn

When they were handing out gentrification, Clapham (the area around the Common at least) was first in the queue. 10 or 20 years ago it was the next area to live if you couldn't afford Fulham/Chelsea. But the people who came then are still here, and are more interested in schools than partying.

Clapham Common remains a true delight though. Perfect for an early morning run. Perfect for a game of football. Perfect for lazy Sunday lounging.

Average rent 1 bed flat£1300 per month
Average rent room£+650 per month
Social media says
Estate agents say "The green open spaces of Clapham Common and the areas convenient transport links make Clapham a wonderful place to live."

Douglas and Gordon

Clapham at a glance


Olympic stadium and The Orbit during London Olympics opening ceremony

Alexander Kachkaev, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

London Olympics Opening Ceremony

The whole of East London was transformed by the 2012 London Olympics, which were staged in the area. Enormous amounts were spent on transport and infrastructure, and the area continues to benefit as the Olympic sites are developed into housing and amenities.

So the area is now a viable place to live, with the Jubilee line to London Bridge taking around 30 mins. At the same time, living costs are still relatively low.

Average rent 1 bed flat£1100-1300 per month
Average rent room£500-550 per month
Social media says
Estate agents say "Thanks to the legacy of the games, the area offers unrivalled sporting opportunities: the London Aquatics Centre is now open to the public, and the Lee Valley VeloPark has track cycling, road racing and mountain biking. Thousands of new homes have either been completed, or are being finished, from the Olympic athletes village (now East Village) with its shops and cafs, to Chobham Manor where the school is rated outstanding."


Stratford at a glance