A Renter’s Life in London: The Inside Scoop

updated Oct 12, 2022
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(Image credit: Bucchi Francesco)

London is a city with so many vibrant neighborhoods that there is one for every type of personality. I moved to London four years ago with no clue as to where I would end up. But with a little exploring, I found my fit, and you can too! Here is an American ex-pat’s perspective on London neighborhoods.


(Image credit: rgnagy)

Notting Hill, Kensington, & Chelsea

Types of Rentals: Lots of houses that have been broken up into flats and large family homes. These areas are the posh neighborhoods closest to central London.

Known For: The quintessential London flat that Americans dream of from the movies.

Don’t Miss: The parks, including Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Also, many of these neighborhoods have private gardens only available to a specific radius of residents who pay to maintain the gardens. For Americans, there is a giant Whole Foods (good for homesick days) and Partridges (a food market that sells lots of American food items).

Transit: Chelsea is always difficult to get to, but Notting Hill and Kensington are easier based on main tube lines.

Similar: Holland Park, Mayfair, Fulham, and Marylebone

(Image credit: Ron Ellis)


Types of Rentals: Lots of Georgian style houses and smaller apartment buildings. There is a mix of families and young professionals. A bit more of a suburban feel right near central London.

Known For: Islington is a large neighborhood made up of smaller areas such as Clerkenwell, Canonbury, Highbury & Islington and areas along the canal. Home to the famous Arsenal football team.

Don’t Miss: Upper Street is the main drag filled with restaurants, shops, and bars. There is a big cinema complex as well as an adorable independent theater called Screen on the Green.

Transit: Located right off both the Northern Line and Victoria tube lines, there are bus routes to almost anywhere in the city, too.

Similar: Finsbury Park

(Image credit: AC Manley)


Types of Rentals: Lofts and new build flats filled with hipsters, artists, and city bankers.

Known For: Nightlife and street art all built around several streets making up the famous Shoreditch triangle. This is the neighborhood that made Banksy famous.

Don’t Miss: Shoreditch BoxPark is a new eating and shopping destination built from cargo containers. Columbia Road Flower Market is a must every Sunday morning for brunch and fresh flowers for a tenner. Plus the new Ace Hotel solidifies the gentrification of this neighborhood.

Transit: Close to the Northern line and Liverpool Street station can take you anywhere you want to go. There is a huge crowd of cycle enthusiasts in this neighborhood, so you may want to invest in a set of wheels.

Similar: Hackney, Dalston, Bethnal Green

(Image credit: Chris Seddon)


Types of Rentals: Large old Georgian mansions with many broken up into flats available for rent.

Known For: Hampstead Heath is a 790-acre wildlife refuge and park that is great for families and dogs.

Don’t Miss: The great old classic pubs hidden about the neighborhood including the Holly Bush and the Wells.

Transit: Located off of the Northern line and just enough out of the city to feel like you have escaped.

Similar: Belsize Park, Highgate

(Image credit: Pablo)

Primrose Hill, Camden

Types of Rentals: Large homes with many broken up into flats, including coveted mews houses that were once horse barns in the 1800s.

Known For: Primrose Hill is a hilltop in Regent’s Park that gives great city views and a perfect picnic spot.

Don’t Miss: The celeb spotting: Kate Moss, Gwen Stefani, and Jamie Oliver call this ‘hood home.

Transit: A bit of a walk to the nearest tube station Chalk Farm on the Northern line, many residents have the income to own a car.

Similar: St. John’s Wood, Swiss Cottage

(Image credit: Nick Hawkes)

Borough and Southwark

Types of Rentals: New builds and lofts mixed with homes built post WWII.

Known For: A haven for foodies with Borough Market and Maltby Street Market. Many of the scenes from Bridget Jones’s Diary were filmed around here, including her flat.

Don’t Miss: The Tate Modern. Bermondsey is a dog-friendly neighborhood with pubs and shops catering to the needs of your furry friends.

Transit: London Bridge has trains and buses to pretty much anywhere you want to go in London or England.

Similar: Bermondsey

(Image credit: R G Nagy)


Types of Rentals: Old Victorian homes with many split into flats for rent and new large apartment buildings starting to go up near the convenient tube stations.

Known For: The great park expanse of Clapham Common.

Don’t Miss: Venn Street Market is a great farmers and artisan market on Saturday mornings.

Transit: Clapham is based off the Northern line making it an easy trip into the city or West end.

Similar: Lavender Hill, Kennington

(Image credit: BasPhoto)

The East End: Bow and Stratford

Types of Rentals: Small Victorian homes and large new build apartment buildings that are very modern.

Known For: The 2012 Olympics brought lots of new revitalization to these neighborhoods including the new Westfield Stratford.

Don’t Miss: Victoria Park is a huge green space that was introduced in 1845 to London’s East end by Queen Victoria who realized that people in cramped living quarters needed outdoor space.

Transit: Lots of great bus, tube, and biking options including the new cycle super highways.

Similar: Whitechapel, Leyton, Mile End

(Image credit: Simonas Vaikasas)

Canary Wharf

Types of Rentals: New build high rises that are a good value. Canary Wharf is set apart from the city of London and not the most convenient location unless you actually work in the Wharf.

Known For: The center of banking and business for those who are all work and no play

Don’t Miss: Greenwich is the closest neighborhood area that includes the Meantime Brewery, London’s oldest Royal Park, the Cutty Sark, and National Maritime museum.

Transit: The DLR line runs here and connects to the Jubilee line

Similar: Shadwell, Wapping


Apartment Hunting: Check out Rightmove and Zoopla for pricing and what is available but also get in touch with local estate agency offices that are neighborhood specific to help narrow your search.

Getting Around: TFL (Transport for London) has a great website that will help plan your journey anywhere in London and beyond whether you are walking, driving, or taking public transit. Zipcars are now readily available around London. For taxis, black cabs are still the most reliable and now with Hailo and Get Taxi apps you can order one on demand. Uber is also starting to pick up popularity in the city. If you don’t own a bike, you can rent one by the hour with Barclays Cycle hire.

Stuff to Do: Timeout, ES Magazine, and Stylist are all free when you take the Tube during the week.


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