Where in London should you live in second year?
You actually have to pay your own bills now
You’re nearing the end of first year, you’ve made your mates and decided who you’re going to live with next year. So the only question remaining is: where?
Most other unis have it easy, as smaller towns or cities have a consensus as to where all the students will live. Cardiff has Cathays, Birmingham has Selly Oak, Bristol has Redland and Stokes Croft – but what about London?
Being a student in London means you’re pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to living, but having this wide selection of places to choose from can be a bit daunting. There are so many questions that need to be answered: North or south of the river? Bigger house with shitty transport connections or tiny flat with all the tube lines you can dream of?
Well, fear not. Here’s our guide to where you should live in second year.
Elephant & Castle
Though there isn’t really a discernible type of person who lives in this area, Elephant & Castle certainly isn’t particularly cool. In fact, it’s pretty bland and unexciting. There are some pubs and bars around, but really it doesn’t have much to offer.
The majority of people who choose to live here do so out of convenience. The tube and bus connections are pretty decent – although this makes the area a bit of a nightmare to navigate during rush hour. However, it’s completely feasible to walk to uni if you’re not lazy and want to save a bit of money on travel.
If you want a living room and a garden, you should look elsewhere – but if your group is small and you don’t mind living in a flat, then go ahead. Living here is a little more expensive than most other student-friendly areas, but if you want to be close-ish to uni without paying a fortune then this is probably your best bet. Elephant & Castle is renowned for being a bit dodgy, but don’t worry – you’ll get used to the fear.
Camden is the place every non-Londoner thinks is really cool. That statement would hold true in 2007 in the glory days of the indie generation but, like Pete Doherty, it seems to have lost its charm in recent years. Camden has well and truly been gentrified – it’s all gone a bit yummy mummy.
With this in consideration, it’s not an awful place to live. There’s quite a lot to do – you could peruse the markets, have a pint in one of the many pubs, or go to a gig in one of the array of live venues. However, you have to be careful where you pick to have a pint: there are cheap venues but you really have to look for them, if you don’t want to be subjected to paying a fiver for a single vodka and coke. Barfly near Chalk Farm has a decently priced Friday club night called Jubilee, and Proud has a student night on Thursday.
E even if you drink in the cheapest establishments you can find, you’ll still be paying quite a lot for your rent. The only housing within a regular student budget in Camden are flats in some pretty dreary complexes. Transport to uni from here isn’t exactly that convenient either – we’re talking 30ish minutes on the Tube.
And the worst thing about Camden? It’s full of UCL students.
Objectively speaking, the consensus seems to be that South-East London is the place to live at the moment: it’s artsy, it’s edgy, it’s “up-and-coming”. If you want any cred at Strand Campus, you better be putting your deposit down on a six-bedroom house in Peckham right now.
The current popularity of this area doesn’t come from nowhere. Living in Peckham is pretty cheap – you can get a big house with a garden and living room for the same price as a flat in somewhere like Mile End. It’s pretty ideal if you’re planning on living with a fair few people, or if you’re planning on throwing some massive house parties.
Additionally, there’s quite a lot to do in Peckham: perhaps you could go for a cocktail at Bar Story, watch a film for a fiver at Peckhamplex, have a drink with a view at Frank’s or go to the club night of the moment, Soul Train, at The Bussey Building. You have everything you need to have a good time right on your doorstep. Although there is an air of anxiety in regards to Peckham, and that’s the issue of gentrification: choosing to live there sort of makes you part of the problem.
Transport is where Peckham has its downfall. Living in Peckham is all well and good if you don’t plan on straying very far from there very often, but in regards to getting to uni it can be a pain in the arse. There aren’t any tube lines in Peckham, so you’re stuck with National Rail (which costs a bomb) or the Overground (which doesn’t go anywhere near uni). So if you’re looking for somewhere where you can go to Uni and be home in good time, don’t live in Peckham.
East London – the land of bankers and hipsters. If you live in the more affordable areas of the east, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to drinking establishments, places to get brunch and fried chicken shops. The older brother of the South East, the image everyone conjures in their mind when they think of an East Londoner is a man with a huge beard and vintage clothes, drinking an obscure craft beer from a mason jar. This is partially true, but some would be shocked to find there is more to the East than listicles of edgy bars and street food vendors: regular, run of the mill people do actually live here.
Regardless of its image, the East is decent if you want a selection of things to do and good transport links – you can get to uni in about 20 minutes from Mile End station. However actually finding somewhere decent to live in the East can prove quite difficult. On my personal journey to finding a house for second year, me and my housemates turned up to several viewings in the East only to be told that the property had been taken an hour before our viewing was scheduled. Be warned, East is endlessly popular.
There are quite the variety of types of housing in the East: houses and flats, big and small – whatever you need, you can probably find it here. Price-wise, not all of the East is ridiculously expensive: Mile End, Bow and Whitechapel are reasonable. You won’t be living in the heart of Shoreditch unless you’ve got a lot of spare money lying around, but Shoreditch is a bit shit now anyway.
You’ve watched every season of Made in Chelsea so far, Daddy bought you a Fiat 500 for your 18th and you just love getting all dressed up for a night out in Mayfair – so naturally, you’d want to live in West London. Contrary to the general portrayal of the West, there is actually some genuinely affordable housing particularly in the West Kensington and Bayswater areas. However don’t expect to be living the high life like Mark Francis: you more than likely won’t be.
Furthermore, West London really isn’t that student-friendly. The likelihood is, you won’t be able to throw wild parties or loudly stumble back from the club at 4am, because you’ll probably live in an area surrounded by families and rich old people who don’t have time for your shit. What’s more, you’ll be at a loose end in trying to find cheap drinking establishments – if you want to live like the elite, you’ve got to have the money to fund it.
Transport-wise, these areas are alright – mostly on the District and Circle lines, so you won’t struggle too much in getting to uni. Property-wise, the area is largely varied between flats and houses. Much like East London, it depends on how hard you look and how quickly you can snap up the house you’ve got your eye on.
Hopefully this guide will help you in making some sort of decision about where to live. Either way, there’s much more to look forward to, and struggle with, when you enter your second year.