Imbledon queues, Glastonbury FOMO and expensive al desko lunches are all back after a long hiatus. The same goes for Tube Zone snobbery.
Working from home and the race for space appeared to be killing the quintessential London preoccupation, but hybrid working and rising Tube fares have pushed travel areas back into the spotlight.
Soaring real estate prices are another crucial factor. Research by Savills shows that a typical flat in Zone 2 will cost upwards of £610,000. In zone 4, the same type of property will cost almost half, or around £364,000. But you don’t necessarily have to hop from area to area to land yourself a home.
Homes & Property scoured data from Savills to find the best value options in the capital for buyers on a budget.
Where to buy in zone 2
Apartments at the best value for money: New Cross (£324,439)
Best value for money for terraces: Peckham (£590,286)
When Myra Appannah was looking for a property eight years ago, she focused on New Cross for two main reasons.
The first was that she could afford it. “And I have friends there and when I visited, I really liked the energy and the vibe,” she says.
“You have the Goldsmiths students, the locals and there’s a real creative energy and buzz. It’s alive day and night and as I’m working from home I really need it.
Appannah, 40, who runs an immersive experience company Bright Black (noir-clair.org), paid £395,000 for his period two-bedroom flat and has never looked back.
She enjoys working at local cafes such as Mughead Coffee, with its “cinnamon rolls”, and The Red Lion Coffee Co, which is near Fordham Park.
For juices and outdoor space, she recommends Wakey Wakey on New Cross Road, and she can often be found browsing the shelves of The Word Bookshop, just across the road.
£5 comedy nights at the Amersham Arms are a local institution, and drag nights at New Cross House are a kitsch delight.
The downside to all this energy is that Appannah fears the local black community, many of whom have lived around New Cross for generations, are being unwittingly excluded from hipster entertainment. “It makes me uncomfortable,” she said.
The other big problem is traffic and pollution, both of which are a problem on the busy streets of New Cross.
In terms of transport, New Cross has two stations, both on the London Overground and a few stops from Canada Water.
If you are looking for a house rather than an apartment, the low cost option is somewhat of a wild card.
We all know about the great Peckham revival, via Frank’s Café and the Brick Brewery.
But despite its hipster credentials, the area remains the most advantageous location for buyers after a terraced house in zone 2.
Look just south of the High Street to the streets around Cossall Park, where you can find a mix of Victorian terraces and more modern townhouses priced around £600,000. Near Peckham Rye, prices are about 50% higher.
Where to buy in zone 3
Apartments at the best value for money: Eastern Ham (£238,423)
Best value for money for terraces: Plaistow South (£398,666)
A true slice of the old-school East End, Plaistow is located next to two monster spawn areas – at Canning Town and the Royal Docks – which means change is likely on the horizon.
It already has a good range of Victorian terraces which are ripe for a bit of TLC, plus it’s served by District and Hammersmith & City line trains and some good parks – notably West Ham Park just to the north.
The trade-off here is that Plaistow is light on anything other than everyday stores and local liquor, although businesses like Caloroso Pizza and the fabulous Kate’s Café, with its gin cocktails and Anglo-Ghanaian fusion menu, suggest that times could change.
Matthew Sayer, director of estate agents at Aston Fox, says buyers are drawn to the nicer corners of Plaistow, including the New City Estate, where a turn-of-the-century two-bedroom house would cost around £400,000.
“These are mostly first-time buyers who have rented in Hackney or Shoreditch and cannot afford to buy in more affluent areas of east London like Walthamstow or Leytonstone,” he says.
The market is supported by people born and raised in the region who choose to buy close to family, and strong demand has driven prices up about 10% over the past year, Sayer estimates.
A mile further up the road is stubbornly un-gentrified East Ham, where you’ll find the best value apartments in Zone 3.
New smart apartments in Upton Gardens, the former home of West Ham United, can cost up to £500,000.
But you can also find streets of period conversions from around £250,000, which Sayer says attract the same crowd as Plaistow.
Danielle Kendry, 30, and Matt Busher, 37, bought their £480,000 three-bedroom period terrace in East Ham last year after living in Plaistow with their cockapoo, Olive, for four years.
“We really fell in love with the architecture of the area,” says Kendry, who runs vintage clothing company Porcelain and Red (porcelainandred.com).
“There are these pockets of nice, quiet streets that you don’t expect in east London. We could see that going forward this area was going to be something very sought after.
Over the next two years, Kendry and graphic designer Busher plan to remodel their home and turn the loft into a fourth bedroom.
Both are impressed by the friendliness of their neighbors and enjoy exploring their new neighborhood, sampling sourdough pizzas at the Red Lion on High Street South and hanging out in the former football pub The Boleyn Tavern.
It has undergone a complete redevelopment during the pandemic thanks to the same company behind the Barley Mow in Shoreditch and the Lord Tredegar in Bow.
Where to buy in zone 4
Apartments at the best value for money: Ilford (£177,330)
Best value for money for terraces: Thamesmead (£337,273)
If you need value for money then Ilford, just on the outskirts of Essex, has plenty of potential.
Services to the West End and the city take around 20 minutes now that the Elizabeth line has finally launched, and there has been investment in the city centre.
Expect to find chain stores interspersed with great neighborhood restaurants and a strange new cafe.
A one-bedroom character conversion would cost between £250,000 and £300,000, but a more modern alternative would cost just over £200,000.
A post-war experiment in social housing, Thamesmead – eight miles east of Canary Wharf – was once synonymous with isolated, gangrenous housing estates. Over the past few years, however, a billion-pound bailout has been put in place.
Thousands of new homes are built along with shops, open spaces and recreational facilities, including a sailing club.
While all the attention has been on new apartments, the terraced houses in Thamesmead, mostly built after 1980, represent exceptional value for money. And, in theory, as the area improves, property prices will rise.
At present it is a compromise location, but with a good range of parks and riverside walks. Transport links are provided by Abbey Wood station.
There are services to London Bridge which take around half an hour and a proposed extension of the Docklands Light Railway between Beckton and Thamesmead.