Moving to Lodon - where to live?

(172 Posts)
lily3 Wed 07-Nov-12 00:39:57

With a budget of £2-3 million and 2 toddlers in tow, what area of London would you live in? Looking for an area with parks and space, but close enough to venture into the city daily. We'd rather go out a bit farther to get more square footage as opposed to a tiny flat in Chelsea, for example. Thanks in advance!

Devora Wed 07-Nov-12 01:59:46

Are you planning on private or state education? If the latter, I would head for Richmond or Kingston where the state schools are fantastic (still have to be careful about getting into the right catchments, so do your research). Your budget would buy you a lovely house in Richmond, Kew, Teddington etc, where you get great schools, gardens, parks.

IF you are going to educate privately then you have much more choice. I've always liked Chiswick. Parts of Kensington are lovely but very expensive; ditto Hampstead, Dulwich, St Johns Wood.

lily3 Wed 07-Nov-12 02:19:17

We are planning on doing private schools. In some of your suggestions, what are the residents like? We are coming from Los Angeles and there are definite stereotypes for each area!

lily3 Wed 07-Nov-12 02:21:09

Also, what is your opinion of Wimbledon? Is this considered a nice area? Or is North/West better?

VerityClinch Wed 07-Nov-12 06:53:10

Wimbledon Village is lovely

Snog Wed 07-Nov-12 06:58:41

Why not use a buying agent - they will tell you all this stuff whereas there will be almost nobody here with experience of that magnitude of budget . Why not rent for a while to find out what appeals?

BeingPolite Wed 07-Nov-12 07:06:29

Wimbledon Common is very nice for walking, running, horse riding... many excellent schools in the private sector and 15 mins to Waterloo in the train. Plus tube connections (although the district line is sloooow). Barnes, Chiswick, Richmond, Kew etc are all lovely areas to consider too. I would use the services of a relocation agent like we did. They can give you the lowdown on the local areas you are considering and save a lot of time dealing with Estate Agents.

forevergreek Wed 07-Nov-12 07:09:01

I would say Kensington for the short commute/ Hyde park etc, but Chiswick is lovely. In sw London, only 15 mins drive max to Hyde park and v central if working there etc but many lovely parks nearby.

It has a really nice family And close knit feel, with nice cafes and pubs whih are child friendly and high street and side streets have some nice individual shops.

Some excellent schools and close to Chiswick members club with pools/ restaurants and sport facilities. Also close enough to richmond park

Is still pricey but less so than ken/ chelsea. You can prob get a really nice 4/5 bed, couple of bathrooms with a bit of space house here for your budget.

BeingPolite Wed 07-Nov-12 07:09:11

In fact, although I personally prefer the SW there are many great places to live in London all with their own merits. It depends on what your priorities are. For example, Hampstead is an equally lovely area.

FamiliesShareGerms Wed 07-Nov-12 07:29:00

What other parameters do you have, eg need transport links to a particular central station or other part of the country?

Wimbledon Village is where I'm moving when I win the lottery smile

1605 Wed 07-Nov-12 08:27:10

I am in property and act as a buying agent for my existing clients. Your budget is some 30% higher than that of my average clients, but if you are not from London then unfortunately you will still be distressed by how little this kind of money will buy you in terms of both square footage and quality of housing stock. Even location will be a compromise - no area of London was unbombed in WWII and accordingly there is ugly modern infill and social housing ('projects') everywhere you look.

You will need to set aside about £250k to renovate and decorate a space of this size to American standards of comfort and convenience. At £2m, stamp duty tax (payable by buyer at purchase) also comes into play in a big way, and you should look at properties well below or well above this price if you don't want to get stung when you renovate, or especially when you sell.

You will need to make a decision about schooling and whether you want your children educated in the American or English systems. This will affect where you buy, as it is just not fair to impose a London-style commute on a young child.

If you can cope with the upheaval, I would rent a house for a year before buying. I can also recommend Henry Prior and Tracy Kellett as buying agents. We have no professional connections but I respect them and their fees and attitude are more trustworth than that of many in this game. Good luck!

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 07-Nov-12 08:31:20

I like being by the river so would head SW - Barnes has a lovely village feel, it's pretty, good schools (st Pauls etc), good train links to Waterloo. It is also full of American bankers - not sure whether that would be a plus or a minus for you!

If you want to be more in town, I would choose Kensington - close to the central parks and you can walk everywhere.

Definitely use a relocation agent.

1605 Wed 07-Nov-12 08:32:46

I should have have said you can afford around 3000 square feet on your budget, and perhaps more depending on condition, in most areas of Zone 2.

I'm afraid Zone 1 will be beyond you if you are looking for an undivided house, though you could certainly afford a large apartment with access to communal gardens if you were prepared for this compromise.

GirlWithTheMouseyHair Wed 07-Nov-12 08:35:38

Where in LA are you currently? I've done the opposite move, although on substantially lower budget, but could help narrow down if you like the current area you're in?

Not sure if Wandsworth Common has been mentioned yet? Putney? Highgate?

TomDaleysTrunks Wed 07-Nov-12 08:35:59

I think Chiswick / Kew / Richmond may be the answer. Lovely village feel and you get more for your money! Ealing would maybe get you a larger property, pitzhanger is nice.

All have good links to great private schools.

1605 Wed 07-Nov-12 08:36:01

Graven Unfortunately there is nowhere in Kensington where you can buy a family house for £3m ex fees. Even the tiny cottages around Stratford Road and Kelso Place (literally on top of the Circle Line) are £3m. Moreover, Kensington High Street is conspicuously on the decline because the kind of people who now buy in W8 rarely shop (or even live) there.

Brycie Wed 07-Nov-12 08:36:22

I second SW18,19. You have access to fantastic parkland but are on the tube and have good A3 M4 connections. I would go and live back there in a heartbeat. I wouldn't to do British Rail (or whatever it is now) but that's just me. It's crowded and less regular. It is fantASTic being on the tube.

Brycie Wed 07-Nov-12 08:37:25

Yes, Wandsworth Common definitely. SW4 also nice but I think you get a bit more land SW19? Could be wrong.

Brycie Wed 07-Nov-12 08:37:45

Wandsworth Common you get a nice class of person.

therugratref Wed 07-Nov-12 08:39:32

The Heaver Estate in Balham.

1605 Wed 07-Nov-12 08:41:55

My first thought would also be Wandsworth. You know the American Embassy is moving to Nine Elms in a staged move over the next few years, right?

Brycie Wed 07-Nov-12 08:44:34

Don't go north. South Londoners in nice areas are SOOO nice.

1605 Wed 07-Nov-12 09:09:25

It's not just about geographical prejudice, Brycie grin.

There are all sorts of things that a relocation agent will need to consider that would never occur to normal buyers.

If you're of Jewish extraction, for example, SW London will be a king size pain for you because the synagogues, schools, shops, education and language classes etc are all mostly in North London.

If you're a cultural mixture, an area like SW11 - very conspicuously white Home Counties middle class - is not necessarily where you'd want your children to grow up.

Brycie Wed 07-Nov-12 09:35:43

No you're right smile except with your last comment - as regards Wandsworth, lots of diversity, esp if you go to private school where children travel from diff. parts of London.

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 07-Nov-12 10:02:11

We're in SW15 and there are 54 languages in my children's school (state). It's still pretty diverse in the private schools - it's fairly unusual to get families here where both the parents are white British.

shock at Kensington prices - makes SW15 look very downmarket. You get a very decent family house in Putney with that budget but, like 1605 says, there are many factors to consider - I would be looking at schools first, the private schools vary so much in London.

kensingtonkat Wed 07-Nov-12 10:52:58

Another one who thinks Kensington is on a decline. In the last five years it's become a money launderer's paradise whilst the local high street and proper shops die. Most of the multimillion pound houses are empty. Flats are inevitably rented by young banker types on short contracts now, and a transient community is no help to anyone trying to make a proper home. It makes me so sad.

SW11 is Northcote Road. Would have thought that was great with toddlers? Though again agree with 1605 that it is very Home Counties and (the thing that puts me off) very old school Tory!

If you want somewhere with a Wandsworth vibe but on the tube and with a more cosmopolitan feel, think about Parsons Green, off the New King's Road. Would live there in a heartbeat if my numbers came up on the lotto.

kensingtonkat Wed 07-Nov-12 11:03:53

Holland Park & Brook Green & Hammersmith borders also a thought. You could have a stunning early Victorian house, a big garden and an easier commute than Chiswick, though a bit grittier in terms of neighbourhood. Key roads are Brook Green itself, Hammersmith Grove, Dewhurst Road, Boscombe Road.

Look on Rightmove.com. Start with your space requirements such as number of bedrooms and price £2m-£3m, and then come back on here and ask us about areas!

mrsshackleton Wed 07-Nov-12 11:04:01

If you want your children to go to the American School then it's St John's Wood/Maida Vale/Swiss Cottage - though you'll be looking at a flat with a communal garden (still lovely)

If you want them in the UK system, then much wider choice.

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 07-Nov-12 11:05:44

And really consider the commute - I vowed never to rely on the District Line or Northern Line again after years of a miserable commute to the City but I like the overground to Waterloo. Lots of people in Putney cycle or use those electric cars (no congestion charge etc).

noviceoftheday Wed 07-Nov-12 11:07:56

Lily, it really depends on the size and type of home you want. How many bedrooms are you looking for and are you looking for a garden? We didn't stay centrally because we wanted a house with garden and weren't going to get that witthout spe

SW11 great, also known as nappy valley as there are so many couples in late 20s/30s with toddlers. It has a great vibe except, you can't find detached houses with garden in that price range. At best semi-detached but mostly terraced.

How important is it that you are central? North Kent and Surrey have very good links into central london with fast trains into central London. For £2m, you will get 5/6 beds detached house with decent size garden (150 ft). As you edge towards £3m, the house comes with more amenities such as bigger garden, swimming pool and tennis court.

Stamp duty tax goes from 5% to 7% so that adds £40k to the bill so you will find that there are some priced just below £2m.

kensingtonkat Wed 07-Nov-12 11:11:58

Think that's a typo, Novice. You meant £140k I think on £2m, I think.

kensingtonkat Wed 07-Nov-12 11:12:18

Thinking too hard

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 07-Nov-12 11:14:59

East Sheen is great!

Plenty of great homes from 1.5 million upwards.
Lots of private schools, such as Tower House, Kings and Ibstock for Primary. But plenty of really good state schools in the area too. East Sheen Primary, Sheen Mount, and Barnes Primary, are all rated Ofsted Outstanding providing excellent education. The area is very affluent, with some celebrities, screen writers, doctors, lawyers in the mix, and to be honest, many dont bother about private schools for primary, as the local ones are so good. You will therefore find that the local schools are a good mix of affluent and "normal" children.

You have easy access of transport into London. London Wetland Center and Kew Botanical Gardens nearby. Both are great for kids. In addition you are on the doorstep of the vast expanses of Richmond Park, and with Wimbledon Common a stones throw away.

Look on rightmove

If you look on the map facility, you can see the river, the parks, and schools.

lily3 Wed 07-Nov-12 11:15:57

Wow thank you everyone for all the info! We actually did meet a real estate agent but we found that she was so bias toward different areas, depending on the house she was trying to sell us. We got a very skewed idea of the areas from her, so I wanted to get a more "real" idea of what each place is like.

Renting first is an option, we will look into that.

GirlWithTheMouseyHair - How are you liking LA? We will definitely miss it! We live in the Bird streets, if you are familiar with that area. It's right above Sunset. Great view from up here! If we were staying in LA, we would probably move to Beverly Hills flats eventually just for a bigger backyard. I guess we are looking for the London equivalent, although we know it will be a smaller house (which we are OK with).

FamiliesShareGerms - We really don't have any other requirements except easy access into to the city and good private schools.

1605 - Thank for that info. That is interesting. What is North London like? Is it considered a nice area to live in? Middle class, upper class? Is there a "great divide" between North and South?

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 07-Nov-12 11:20:36

1605 you have clearly not been to Richmond, and most certainly not East Sheen. wink

OP will struggle to find good quality upmarket housing for that budget north of the river in Kensington. I saw a very nice pad for 7 million near Holland Park. (my budget would be 10% of that, lol)

But in that price range, she CAN find newly refurbished modern looking high quality homes, with gardens, and parks nearby in Richmond.

More than in Wandsworth (where I now live having left a fab neighbourhood in Richmond behind)

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 07-Nov-12 11:25:05

[[http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-23473470.html This 6 bed house] has been for sale for a very long time. I am sure they are open to offers, being in the top end of the price range for this great area. Big garden, modern, and no need to spend hundreds on refurb.

Slightly smaller and a bargain at 1.9 million an 2.800 sq f.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 07-Nov-12 11:25:35

Sorry, epic link fail.

[[http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-23473470.html ]] This 6 bed house] has been for sale for a very long time. I am sure they are open to offers, being in the top end of the price range for this great area. Big garden, modern, and no need to spend hundreds on refurb.

Slightly smaller and a bargain at 1.9 million an 2.800 sq f.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 07-Nov-12 11:26:09

Sorry, epic link fail.

This house This 6 bed house] has been for sale for a very long time. I am sure they are open to offers, being in the top end of the price range for this great area. Big garden, modern, and no need to spend hundreds on refurb.

Slightly smaller and a bargain at 1.9 million an 2.800 sq f.

3 times lucky, eh?

BoerWarKids Wed 07-Nov-12 11:32:49

How about Greenwich or Blackheath?

Your money may go a little further as it's SE London. Wonderful place to bring up children and good transport links into town.

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 07-Nov-12 11:48:31

I prefer south because it seems less of an urban sprawl. There are more commons and heaths rather than 'parks' and it's easier to get out London to eg, the coast or the airports. But traditionally north of the river is regarded as posher - I really don't think that a newcomer would notice any difference to be honest. All London areas have their own distinct character and it's a bit irrelevant whether they are north or south.

I feel a bit hemmed in if I'm not near the river so would vote for Barnes/East Sheen/Putney rather than, say, Hampstead or Crouch End. Greenwich is lovely but touristy and has some very dodgy areas.

noviceoftheday Wed 07-Nov-12 11:54:39

Interesting links Quint, we didn't consider East Sheen.

I also love Blackheath and Greenwich although the detached houses in Greenwich aren't in the nicer bit (from memory). Blackheath village is the South East london version of Nappy Valley. It's greener because it has the Common and Greenwich Park but SW11/Northcote Road probably friendlier (just my opinion though!).

Kat, I do mean £40k don't I? The properties on our road tend to not go over £2m because the taxes. Below £2m at 5% instead of above £2m at 7%. I am not well so I might be talking rubbish! confused

BoerWarKids Wed 07-Nov-12 12:00:35

OP, when you say 'the city' do you just mean central London or The City of London?

7 bed in Blackheath Indoor pool grin Good rail links to London Bridge.

kensingtonkat Wed 07-Nov-12 13:17:33

My maths is terrible, Novice, so I can't be sure. But yes, at £2m I think the stamp duty alone will be £140k shock

kensingtonkat Wed 07-Nov-12 13:18:54

Below £2m it would be £100k.

panicnotanymore Wed 07-Nov-12 13:28:36

St Johns wood (NW8) -right by Regents park, Primrose Hill, London zoo and Regents canal. The area is very American friendly with a large US expat crowd due to the American school on Loudon Road. Panzer on St Johns wood high street has all the US brand foods you might miss from home! I used to live there and loved it - it was a five minute walk to the Park, it is possible to walk/cycle into central London, or Bond street is two stops on the tube. I still rent out a flat there and I always have American tenants, and they always extend their stay by a couple of years, so must like it.

vez123 Wed 07-Nov-12 21:55:00

What about Herne Hill or Dulwich Village, SE London? Lovely green spaces, good links into town, fantastic period houses with big gardens for between 1 and 2m, see www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-35832511.html
Lots of good private schools nearby and some of the state primaries are fantastic.

Don't rule out Kensington. You can get a lovely house there for that budget, very close to holland park, schools are great, brilliant for toddlers (I have 3 of 5 and under and a 4th due in march). Lots of great mums groups, good transport, quite a big American contingent, good schools.... But hey I live herd and love it so I am biased. Look at www.rightmove.co.uk and search for property in W8.

Oh and by Kensington high street (next to holland park) there is a real villagey atmosphere. DH and I both commute to canary wharf and the city respectively and the transport links are great. 35 mins to the city, 40 mins to canary wharf.

I do think some if the comments about us Kensington types not shopping in it or using the area are a bit misled.... Really strong community and the Abingdon village is full of young families not empty houses!!!

forevergreek Wed 07-Nov-12 23:32:50

Stealth toddler- you sound like you live v close to me!

likeatonneofbricks Wed 07-Nov-12 23:33:44

er..Wimbledon or Richmond are NOT easy commute distance into the City! Richmond is very charming and is by the river but sadly there is plane noise in most parts of it, though some are less noisy to be fair.
Hampstead is on the dreadful Northern line and also is chocoblock with school traffic at school hours! though I'm not sure about rail/overland into the City - there might be a newish one. Hampstead has a big Jewish upmarket community, so if that's what you aer after you may want to compromise on transport. It's a bit self contained but it's nice if you like an wealthy suburb vibe.
I'd go for Kensington (agree with Stealth, it's a lively High Street and very useful too - they have Wholefoods loved by the Americans!), Kensington Gardens and Holland park nearby, some fiendly independent delis/cafes, incl. Kensington Church street and the street off it.
Otherwise - cheaper but not far from there - Chiswick! Turnham Green tube or Stamford Brook, don't go further if you want a quick commute.
Parsons Green is very snooty and pretty much Tory, it also has middle class French community as there is now French school there. By American standards it has narrow streets and crowded housing unless you aer on Lion house type patch (wider houses), it's also young area (lots of renting by people in their 20s).

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 07-Nov-12 23:34:25

I actually lived down on Stratford road for a few years. I loved to walk up to Kensington high street and browse the shops on a Saturday morning, and take a stroll in Holland Park. I did (and still do) find it very crowded though. Especially as it is a very busy shopping street, and full of tourists to boot. The traffic is heavy, I sometimes felt I could not breathe on the way to work, walking along Kensington High Street in the morning.

It is nearly impossibly to find a table in Starbucks! However, the massive Waterstones next door make up for that.

likeatonneofbricks Wed 07-Nov-12 23:40:48

p.s. you can get a nice flat in Chelsea (not sw3 but sw10, and sw5 bordering Chelsea (the Boltons smile)/sw7 for 3m, not tiny shock, unless you call 2-3 bed flats with nice communal square gardens tiny! you can buy a studio in Chelsea for 350K, can buy a two bed (smalllish in prime Cadogan square with tennis court for 1.5m, so anything a bit further is not going to be tiny by London standards). OP never said they wanted a detached house!

likeatonneofbricks Wed 07-Nov-12 23:53:35

NotQuin, yes, I did that walk too and similar too <misty eyed>, it can be crowded, but so aer most nice aeras of London in rush hour! King's road in chelsea maybe a fraction less busy, but with solid traffic too. It's more cosmopolitan/transitory than Chelsea which can make it a bit less 'identifiable', to some it lacks character. But it's very comfortable for shopping, transport, Albert Hall, theatres, all the shops short taxi trip away.
I think Chelsea is more exclusive and intimidating to some, sw10 still has trad upper classes (not just by wealth) but would you want to live there and be looked down on? kind of, so is Hampstead unless you are an editor/theatre director or Jewish elite. I find parts of Chelsea and Kensington very upbeat to compare with the serious Hampstead though.
OP you really have to see these areas for yourself, it so depends on your taste.

likeatonneofbricks Wed 07-Nov-12 23:54:00

*similar ones

EverybodysSpookyEyed Thu 08-Nov-12 00:06:24

For good and numerous private prep schools you want hampstead and live in st johns wood or it's environs. You are just in zone 2 so easy to get into the city. Sjw is on the jubilee line so a quick journey to canary wharf too. Paddington is close by so heathrow is really easy to get to. And you have regents park/primrose hill on your doorstep

For £3m you can get a house. Not like one ou would be used to in LA though!

forevergreek Thu 08-Nov-12 07:15:46

Richmond is quick to the city though? The overground is 12 mins direct to Waterloo. Quicker than the tube from hammersmith to that area

greek I recognise your name from se other threads - do you have very little ones too?

I love the W8 area, I have lived in Fulham, St. John's wood as well and W8 Kensington proper has by far been the nicest and friendliest. May well be that this is where I have had my children so am more connected to local life, but its a great friendly vibe. Are you close to the Abingdon village???

kensingtonkat Thu 08-Nov-12 10:59:52

K&C has changed enormously. But granted, it depends on when you moved and how you'd like the place to be.

For the old school, everything changed when Barkers closed down and Whole Foods opened up. We'd never had pound shops and short lease stores in KHS and now the street is full of them.

If someone can find me a house off Abingdon Road for less than £4m I'd be amazed. Pitt Street you could do, on the OP's budget if you fancy living in a tiny house.

YY to communal apartments. Edwardes Square and Lexham Gardens especially.

kensingtonkat Thu 08-Nov-12 11:01:14

er, communal garden apartments.

CaurnieBred Thu 08-Nov-12 11:16:23

If you would like greenery but still be in London then you could look to North London at the Hadley Wood and Totteridge areas. Totteridge is on the Norther Line and Hadley Wood you can get mainline trains into Moorgate (the heart of the City of London) but can also interchange at Finsbury Park for underground connections on Victoria and Piccadilly Lines or mainline to Kings Cross/St Pancras for Eurostar.

And you don't have the same issue in North London with regards to aeroplane noise as you do in SW London.

kensingtonkat Thu 08-Nov-12 11:18:22

Is anyone really enjoying the property porn element of this thread blush grin? I can spend many a happy hour on Rightmove looking at W8 and W14 grin.

oohlaalaa Thu 08-Nov-12 11:24:19

I'd look at Westmoreland Triangle.

CaurnieBred Thu 08-Nov-12 11:46:50

How about these: Hadley Wood

noviceoftheday Thu 08-Nov-12 11:55:20

I am right with you Kensingtonkat grin. We are looking to move anytime in next 3/4 years, but if we found something we thought was "it" now, we would move. Dh is obsessed with looking at properties and I am normally telling him there's no point. This thread is sucking me right into checking out properties on rightmove, even though we have no intention moving back into town!

forevergreek Thu 08-Nov-12 12:02:53

We are very close but nearer the tennis courts entrance to holland park. 2 under 3 age wise

pootlebug Thu 08-Nov-12 19:27:34

Blackheath or West Greenwich. Lots of open space with the Heath and Greenwich Park and you'd get an amazing house at your budget. Biased because I live there but I'd still stay if I found an extra million or two down the back of the sofa!

1605 Thu 08-Nov-12 19:33:00

Quint I was referring specifically to SW11 (Northcote or Twixt the Commons is actually SW11 6) because it has the highest percentage of white British residents of any London postcode. It's something that bothers a lot of my clients though I'm sure it appeals to others hmm.

I agree Richmond, Wandsworth and certainly Lambeth (SW4) are much more multicultural.

1605 Thu 08-Nov-12 19:38:24

I'm not sure when the W8 residents on this thread bought their houses but - speaking as someone who actually works in the industry - I'd doubt very much whether a house in Abingdon village would sell for £3m today.

I've just looked on Rightmove for houses in W8 in case I was mistaken, and most of the listings are maisonettes, or situated on blighted streets.

Though having said that, I remember the days Kelso Place was considered "blighted". It's tripled in price in 7 years.

1605 Thu 08-Nov-12 19:44:08

Lily3 It's very hard to say whether there's a cultural divide between North and South. It's a truism that people almost never move from South of the Thames to the North, only vice versa.

In reality, there are pockets of the same kinds of people in demographic terms spread across London, and the character and snob value of areas change on a street-by-street basis.

A good relocation agent will do plenty of research on areas and use population data bases such as ACORN to ensure you're getting what you want. It's a lot of money, so you must ensure they do their due diligence in return for their fees.

1605 Thu 08-Nov-12 19:55:57

In London, a family house is considered anything undivided, over 1600 square feet, and with private outdoor space. Any smaller and you're just going to be really cooped up, unless you're from Manhattan or Bombay.

The number of bedrooms can be a bit misleading, and London floorplans are rarely identical even if the houses look the same on the outside.

mummytime Thu 08-Nov-12 20:25:39

I would use a good relocation agent, not just an Estate agent.
Do you want to use UK private schools? Or US style? Have you looked at schooling costs. You might also want to use a schools consultant.
For the latter look at where the schools are, which includes TASIS and the ACS schools.
Where do you need to get to? Where will you be working?
What kind of facilities are you looking for? How big a house?
How long will you be here? Is it permanent?
South, and North London have areas with different feels, as do East and West. There areas dominated by different expat groups, even (especially?) in some of the most expensive locations.

More space normally equals further out.

Primrose Hill, because of all panic said except a much nicer, friendlier and villagey feel (imo) than St John's Wood.

Oh and I have lived all over London; Chiswick, Fulham, Tooting, Acton, Denmark Hill and Islington. Good NW postcodes by far the nicest areas.

mamij Thu 08-Nov-12 20:41:13

I would agree with Richmond/Kew/Teddington/Hampton areas. Richmond and Bushy Parks practically on your doorstep and so close to the river. These ares are very mum and toddler friendly, lots of nice cafes and restaurants if you want to just have cake/tea and a catch up.

Also a (fairly) short train journey into Waterloo notwithstanding engineering works delays

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Thu 08-Nov-12 22:05:39

Our neighbours in Richmond were largely white British, with some American, Italian, French and Polish, Danish and Swedish thrown in. Most with high flying husbands, and mums at home.

Richmond is lovely and has lots to recommend it but has others have said, it isn't at all central. Yes, the train to Waterloo is fast but you still have to wait for it, unlike tubes, and a cab home from central London would cost several times more than if you live, for example, in NW8.

I do think you need to visit the different areas suggested most, they are so different and it depends what your priorities are.

merryberry Thu 08-Nov-12 22:23:59

I've lived all over London. WIth that budget I would do Primrose Hill. Well, I lie, I would stay in Tufnell Parksmile Theoretically I would go to Primrose Hill to be closer to the centre.

merryberry Thu 08-Nov-12 22:25:05

South of the river, ah well. I lived in Wandsworth for a whole year <looks proud of self>. It was too bushy and suburban and not city enoughsmile

lily3 Thu 08-Nov-12 22:44:04

Thanks for all the added info. What is everyone's opinion of Notting Hill/Holland Park? We actually stayed in Holland Park one summer and loved it, especially the restaurants of NH and access to the Westfield Mall. I don't think we would get as much space for our money there, but do you think it might be worth the sacrifice? Are there much in the way of families there? Younger, older? Good schools?

Londonista1975 Thu 08-Nov-12 22:56:55

Shephard's Bush would be good on your budget, especally with a quick central line journey to and from the City.

I agree tat the good NW postcodes are reliable but I think are over budget for the O.P, especially Primrose Hill. Muswell Hill would be a good compromise - the key thing being how family friendly it is - but with no tube and no trais to central London, it's a bit of a faff getting to and from town.

Devora Thu 08-Nov-12 23:15:52

I lived around Notting Hill/Holland Park for a long time and absolutely loved it - till I had children. Well, I would still love it if I had children and a good household income. I just got priced out of being able to participate in the community, tbh - I lived in a rabbit hutch, couldn't afford a garden (as most can't; Holland Park is packed shoulder to shoulder on hot days) and had problems accessing schools (the good state ones are nearly all faith, or have teeny tiny catchments). Plus the community is very transient - I met lots of nice women there, but they were all American or European, married to bankers, and came and went frequently.

When, however, I find and marry my millionaire, I'm definitely moving back there. For you, yes you should definitely consider it. Lots of good private schools. Just be aware that it is fiendishly expensive.

takeonboard Fri 09-Nov-12 09:26:29

I live in Notting Hill and wouldn't live anywhere else in London. there is a huge selection of private schools and nurseries. As you already know great bars and restaurants, we are also spoilt for shops, parks and cinemas without including Westfield in nearby Shepherds Bush. And the transport links to the west end and City are great.
The only problem may be that there aren't many small houses in NH, the huge Stucco houses are 5+ bedrooms and over your budget, but a good estate agent (and there are loads here) will know where to look. Good luck!

lily3 Fri 09-Nov-12 11:38:02

takeonboard - Do you find it's a friendly area for young families? We don't know anyone in London so looking for a good social community. What are postcodes for NH? I am going to take a look to see whats out there.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Fri 09-Nov-12 11:44:49

If you want to have central London on your doorstep, with the hustle and bustle of a busy city, then East Sheen, Barnes and Putney wont be your cup of tea at all. It is quiet, and more green and "close to nature".

What does anyone think of Hammersmith/Brook Green? Easy transport links, a short bus ride/walk to all the shops of Kensington, easy reach of both Westfield and Notting Hill?

Disclaimer: I have never lived in Hammersmith. (I have however lived in Angel, Stockwell, Kennington, Tooting Bec, Kensington, Putney and East Sheen)

mrsshackleton Fri 09-Nov-12 11:51:37

Notting Hill postcode is W11 and W2

You would be in a flat on that budget.

Notting Hill and Holland Park are virtually exclusively populated by rich expats, it is the place to live in London and has been for a while. It is very lovely but most Londoners I know wouldn't live there any more, even if they could afford it, because the vibe is so conspicuously wealthy and Euro/American. That's not a criticism, OP, it may suit you very well, you'd just need to be aware.

I don't think Hammersmith/Brook Green are right for the OP

mrsshackleton Fri 09-Nov-12 11:52:17

PS - I stil lsay St John's Wood or Maida Vale would be best, v close to both West End and Notting Hill

legosaurus Fri 09-Nov-12 12:43:05

I agree with Mrs Shackleton. NW London is great. I lived in Maida Vale for years and loved it. It is leafy, has a tube station, is close to Marble Arch but within walking distance to St. John's Wood, Little Venice, Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, etc.

For those priced out of Notting Hill, recent years have seen the fast regeneration of Kensal Rise and Queen's Park. Both NW10 postcodes. If you have a generous budget like yours, you get a lot for your money in NW10. We moved there when it was still ''up-and-coming'' while the dodgy betting shops and derelict shop fronts became boutique florists and posh pubs.

www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-39424745.html

The most sought-after houses are around the brilliant park in Queen's Park which is always full of children and has a couple of playgrounds and a café. The area is wildly popular with young families and media-types. The tube stations of Kensal Rise and Queen's Park offer Bakerloo line in to Oxford Circus or an overground link that can get you to Euston in 10 minutes.

We moved abroad years ago but if we were ever to move back, I would definitely head back to NW London in a heartbeat.

There has been a lot of talk of Hammersmith where I work - and I wouldn't think it would be great for OP. But nearby Barnes, might well be good. Budget wise, you will get something there.

I live in SW London and really like it. Great for families, great for children. We are Balham (more Streatham Hill), but it is not far from Wandsworth, and I suspect that Ww would suit you very well. Prices change significantly over very short distances. My house in Wandsworth would probably cost about 3x the price it is here - nice road, v close to common. you need to find out what is important to you.

You really need to come and visit to get an idea for yourself. When we were relocating from rented house in north London to our own house, we looked everywhere. Some people rave about an area, but it won't be for you. Trust your own feeling.

MrClaypole Fri 09-Nov-12 14:07:50

The areas here are all so so different you really need to come over and have a look round.

I've been in London 20 years and lived all over the place. For a nice family home and somewhere you can make friends I'd recommend:

Richmond
Chiswick
Barnes
Maida Vale
Queens Park
Hampstead

Don't go for Notting Hill, full of young, trendy childless folk and tends to be transient as peopel stay a year or so then move on.

GirlWithTheMouseyHair Fri 09-Nov-12 15:47:25

Loving the property porn aspect to this thread.

I disagree people rarely make the move across the river, I know a lot of people when childless lived north then when they wanted a family but didn't want to move beyond zone 2/3 moved south instead as you tend to get more for your money. I think the cultural differences happen area to area rather than specifically north, south, east and west.

I grew up in Swiss cottage then Tufnell Park, went to school in Camden so knew that whole area well. Moved to Finsbury Park after uni then when DH and I were thinking of having a family we moved to Streatham.

OP I think Wandsworth really might be right up your street, compared to where you are in LA. North London equivalent maybe Muswell Hill (transport is a bit rubbish but you're coming from a city where it's non existent!) and as someone mentioned Queens Park would also be good.

London and LA are totally different beasts, actually I think LA is just different to everywhere else! It's taking me a lot of getting used to to be honest, better now I can drive!

We live on the border of Santa Monica, West LA and Brentwood - if you fancy getting together for a coffee to swap tips about our beloved cities let me know!

lalalonglegs Fri 09-Nov-12 16:08:32

I'm amazed how many votes Wandsworth/Battersea is getting (and I live there). I'd definitely want to live more centrally if I had OP's budget, possibly Islington/Highbury (although I don't know about private schools there). Definitely SJW or MV if I had the money.

kensingtonkat Fri 09-Nov-12 17:07:15

Lala I wanted to laugh when someone mentioned Shepherd's Bush. I live on the borders and would love to get the hell out on the 49 bus grin.

Wandsworth is extremely smart now. Big houses, big gardens, good schools. A house on the toast rack would cost over £4m though. Most ironic that Outnumbered - a teacher and a secretary - is set there.

GirlWithTheMouseyHair Fri 09-Nov-12 17:07:32

I guess I'm comparing a little with LA and you get more house and garden for your money south of the river. I would personally rather forgoe space and live north but Americans have MASSIVE places compared to what we're used to!

kensingtonkat Fri 09-Nov-12 17:08:23

Belsize Park?

Primrose Hill?

<Porns some more>

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Fri 09-Nov-12 17:10:01

There are many places in Wandsworth I would not want to live, and most certainly not in Wandsworth town. Rather Battersea, Clapham, OR the Western fringes towards Richmond.

But, like I say, for me, now, it cant be anywhere else than Barnes, East Sheen or West Putney. MUST be near Richmond Park. grin

kensingtonkat Fri 09-Nov-12 17:12:40
GirlWithTheMouseyHair Fri 09-Nov-12 17:21:06

For sure - I lived in wandsworth borough but was between streatham common and tooting broadway, not at all the area I was suggesting for OP! Was thinking more Wandsworth Common and Nappy Valley

Dulwich is lovely too...

Mintyy Fri 09-Nov-12 17:22:01

You have an enormous budget and don't know London at all so you really should consider using a buying agent. All areas of London have good and bad sides and are home to all sorts of people, there is less of the strict demarcation that you find in Los Angeles. Having said that you can ensure that you only rub shoulders with the extremely wealthy if you choose Chelsea, Kensington, Belgravia, Mayfair. You don't get all that many average people living in those areas.

All other areas of London, including the very expensive ones like St John's Wood and Wimbledon, will have plenty of everyday folk living in subsidised and council housing alongside their very wealthy neighbours. Its one of the things that makes London such a fabulous, tolerant and open-minded place to live in my opinion.

legalalien Fri 09-Nov-12 17:36:57

Did someone say dolwichpreplondon <perks up>.

Really depends what kind of person you are op

- are you going to have live in child care/ use babysitters a lot and spend lots of time in trendy restaurants?

- how would you dress to go to the local grocery shop / on the school run

- how much do you spend on holidays.?

- what kind of work do you and your dh do, what about your friends?

Once we know that we can make gross but potentially helpful generalisations about areas of London. smile

legalalien Fri 09-Nov-12 17:38:12

That would be "Dulwich" - autocorrect at work - draw your own conclusions!

kensingtonkat Fri 09-Nov-12 17:46:55

[[http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-39779069.html I want this one]

<continues porning>.

Just ten years ago you could buy one of these houses for £1m. Someone I know did exactly that envy.

kensingtonkat Fri 09-Nov-12 17:51:37

[[http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-39779069.html ]]

LINK FAIL, sorry.

kensingtonkat Fri 09-Nov-12 17:52:01

FFS, giving up. Sorry. wine.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Fri 09-Nov-12 18:20:54

I want this one

There you go kensingtonkat wink

kensingtonkat Fri 09-Nov-12 18:31:42

Thank you Quint!

In case of doubt, I do not want Granny's old furniture too.

kensingtonkat Fri 09-Nov-12 18:33:39

Though actually that Georgian dining table is vair nice and better suited to the architecture than the Alvaat Alto, darlings confused grin.

blouseenthusiast Fri 09-Nov-12 18:48:29

I would pick Islington. St John's Wood has a very transient community and silly shops - never felt like much of a community to me.

blouseenthusiast Fri 09-Nov-12 18:50:01

Or Bloomsbury. Not sure what that budget would get you tho.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Fri 09-Nov-12 19:09:04

It is actually sad to see how little you get for your money in London.

These are nice homes. Un-affordable for most people.

You really need a LOT of money to get a decent standard of living.

It always strikes me what fab homes we can buy in Norway, for a fraction of the cost.

Which is probably why we own 2 smallish homes.

Our London abode is half the size of our property in Norway! Guess which is the most expensive one! And guess which ones offers the best standard of living.

Yet here we are! grin

lalalonglegs Fri 09-Nov-12 19:13:43

Oh yes, Bloomsbury would be great. I'm not sure how family-oriented it is though.

I wonder if we can persuade the OP to appear on Location Location Location and watch her face turn to thunder as Kirsty tries to persuade her that she will just have to learn to compromise and thanks to her expertise she's in a prime position to offer her two mill on a two-up, two-down in Canning Town/Cricklewood/Catford... grin

Mintyy Fri 09-Nov-12 20:27:34

Hey Lala, are you still of the opinion that New Cross is on the up? I still have itchy feet but want to stay in SE London ... what makes you think New Cross is a good place to go, if you don't mind? thanks wine [chocolate] etc.

lalalonglegs Fri 09-Nov-12 20:40:53

New Cross ticks a lot of boxes because it has a lot of period houses, it has great transport links, it has a fantastic and very oversubscribed secondary school, it's close to a posher area (Greenwich) and it also has a student population (which in the very long term, often translates to a sort of alternative-cafe culture/quirky shops etc - it already has some). Believe it or not, Deptford next door has a very high population of artists (as I suspect does NC) which is also a marker of potential gentrification. Yes, the A2 through it is horrendous and usually gridlocked and there are quite a lot of low-rent shops but the conservation areas such as around Telegraph Hill are really nice. I think the school is the deal-clincher though.

If you've got 2-3 million, I'd direct you elsewhere wink.

Mintyy Fri 09-Nov-12 20:46:44

Hmm, yes, agreed on all points, although the students and the school have been there for years and years. What I really want to do is move to somewhere like ED was 15 years ago.

If I had op's budget I would live in Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia, De Beauvoir, Canonbury or Highgate or possibly even dear old Herne Hill smile.

RTchoke Fri 09-Nov-12 20:54:45

Brook Green, Brackenbury Village or around there. West London, near multiple tube lines, close to the river and several parks. Right near Westfield (which you said you like). Near sone of the best private primary school in the city (and also good state primaries). Loads of young families and activities, groups etc for young families.

You could get a nice house for your money.

Apart from proximity to Westfield, Brook Green is very different from NH and Holland Park, which OP liked though RTchoke. I suspect that the thread may now be getting more confusing for OP than helpful!

OP, what is timing for your move? Is a decent advance visit possible to check out different areas? smile

Dededum Fri 09-Nov-12 21:38:20

I lived in South Kensington in a desirable garden square. It was fine till I gave up work after DS2 born. Everyone with kids in my square was a banker, and 80% French. Most of the people I met at play groups, in Holland Park, Hyde Park were nannies. I used to go to playgroups in Fulham to find some sanity.
Be very wary of central London if you are looking to make friends.

lily3 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:57:58

We are definitely going to look into a relocation expert. It's still great, though, to get ideas from "real" people and Londoners.

legalalien To answer some of your question, I am a stay at home mom and my DH is an investment banker (he will be working in Mayfair). Our group of friends in LA are in similar set-ups (stay at home moms and working husbands). It would be nice to be in an area where I can meet other non-working moms - lunch, push the buggies around, baby activities and so on. We won't have live-in care, since we won't have the space for a live-in nanny, but we do plan to get part-time help and yes - we do like to go out to dinner sans kids, so will be using a sitter. Spending on holidays - well, we have a home in the Caribbean so that will be our vacation spot, not including family trips to LA. Ok I'm ready now - stereotype me! : )

I think Richmond might be a bit far for us, although it does look like a lovely area. I'm afraid if we lived there we wouldn't venture into the city that much - it seems like a pretty self-contained area?

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Fri 09-Nov-12 23:05:16

If you are in Richmond, or East Sheen, it is very self contained. You have all the shops you need around. Waitrose for your groceries, TK Max at Kew Retail park for your 75% discount designer clothing and homewares, along with M&S for more groceries, Gap, Mothercare and Next Clothes shops, Kew Village for nice boutiques, restaurants and a seriously nice wine shop or two, East Sheen and Barnes for nice wine bars, restaurants, Richmond (village) proper for boutiques, high street chain shops, pubs, restaurants, designer clothing, views of the river, and Putney for something more resembling a "city" with some less upmarket shops, but a Benetton, a Jigsaw, a mall, lots of other shops, pubs and clubs, but most importanly:

Plenty of stay at home moms with career husbands, and plenty of places to take your children: From pushing buggies in the many parks, play groups, music groups, baby football, sports and ballet classes, etc. It is a true haven for a non-working mum.

lily3 Fri 09-Nov-12 23:06:39

Dededum - That is really interesting, so not many stay at home moms around those areas?

Sleepwhenidie - Yes we are definitely going to visit before we move! This is why this thread is so helpful, I'm making a list of everyone's suggestions then DH and I will go through them, narrow them down and visit the areas. It's really great seeing everyone's opinions.

lalalonglegs - I'm not sure of that show but I think we have an American equivalent here called "House Hunters" where you watch people go house-hunting and finally pick a home. Very entertaining!

ChicMama25 Fri 09-Nov-12 23:08:00

Love Wimbledon. My DP used to live there. Wish we could afford it now. Good luck x

lily3 Fri 09-Nov-12 23:10:55

NotQuintAtAllOhNo How long would it take to get from Richmond to Mayfair (where my DH will be working). Do people commute from there or do most work locally?

Dededum Fri 09-Nov-12 23:19:32

Well there were SAHM's but they were French. I felt isolated but to be honest I am not a social butterfly! You might have a different experience.

But S Ken is beautiful. The Science Musuem, which has a whole floor for kids, was my place to goto when they were toddlers. You can walk to Holland Park, Hyde Park, Kings Road, lovely restaurants, vibrant cafe culture (because of the French), interesting quirky shops. I would go and look, there are loads of garden squares some with properties that back onto the gardens. Mostly flats in grand mansion blocks, sometimes with porters. Look in SW7 and SW5 (upto the Earls Court Road). A stones throw to Mayfair.

lily3 Fri 09-Nov-12 23:30:59

Hmm I don't know if I would fit in well with French women - would be nice to be in an area with either Brits or Americans.

What is the main difference between Richmond & Barnes? I see that Barnes is a bit closer to the city, but there is no tube there? So would you say Richmond is better access? The area really looks beautiful. Might be a bit farther than what we originally were looking for, but could also be worth it...

noviceoftheday Fri 09-Nov-12 23:48:24

Hi Lily, Mayfair, where your dh is going to be based for work is also known as "hedge fund alley", that's where lots of US hedge funds and private equity houses tend to have their European base. Historically, they tended to live and work in Mayfair, but I would probably say that they have been priced out of living in Mayfair. Typically, those who work in mayfair, have moved out to Notting Hill with (i.e. still work in Mayfair but typically live in Notting Hill) so you would definitely find people that you would have lots in common with. I think that's your best bet, otherwise Chelsea but than can be a bit hit and miss or South Ken.

Londonista1975 Sat 10-Nov-12 00:12:02

There's no tube in Barnes but some overground trains. Richmond is beautiful with wonderful amenities and apart from the traffic, I can't fault it. It's also close to Heathrow, if that helps, but not the easiest of commutes to Mayfair - I think getting the train to Waterloo then getting the tube to Green Park would be the quickest option, which would be too much for me as I hate changing, plus I can be terribly lazy

Devora Sat 10-Nov-12 00:29:25

Oh, and how about Pimlico? Central, some lovely houses, you could walk into Mayfair from there. Not sure how familyish it is, though.

legalalien Sat 10-Nov-12 07:17:29

This made me laugh

news.efinancialcareers.com/21911/guest-comment-acceptable-addresses-for-the-investment-banker-in-london/

I think you probably need to be in west london tbh.

RTchoke Sat 10-Nov-12 07:19:34

If your DH is working in Mayfair, you want to live in a family area near other stay at home mums, and you want easy access to the city nut want £2-3m to buy significant space I would advise Chiswick. If you lived in Vedford apart area you would be in a lively, v Britsh conservation zone inhabited almost entirely by families like yours (incl various Anericans). There are so many mother and baby activities it's ridiculous, great shops on your doorstep, 25 mind to work on the tube for yr DH.

The decor of this house isn't great but it gives you an idea of what you could afford m.rightmove.co.uk/quickPage.html?page=8&cc=html5%2Fhomepage.html%3Fgoto%3DHOMEPAGE#gallery

RTchoke Sat 10-Nov-12 07:20:35

Oops "Vedford apart" should read "Bedford Park".

I would put Chiswick in the same category as Richmond and Wimbledon village, lovely but quite self contained and not central enough for lily3 imo.

noviceoftheday Sat 10-Nov-12 08:11:13

Agree with sleepwhenidie. That article that someone linked to is funny but it's also very true. Dh works in Mayfair and he is the only one of the senior folks who does not live in Notting Hill/S Ken/Chelsea etc.

EverybodysSpookyEyed Sat 10-Nov-12 10:03:26

I'm going to vote for belsize park/st johns wood/little Venice/maida vale again!

The community isn't that transitory and there are lots of sahm's that seem to hang around together!

Lots of choice for schools in easy reach and the American school (although this is very hard to get into)

Commute of 20mins on the bus to Mayfair. If he travels a lot the heathrow express is a 5 min cab ride away. Eurostar also quick to get to. If your dh is anything like mine he will be coming home later than the trains run, don't underestimate how helpful being a 10 min cab ride from the office can be! You won't get that in Richmond!

Central London is really close and easy to get to for nights out.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Sat 10-Nov-12 10:06:46

Lily, Richmond is a borough, and Barnes and East Sheen are in this borough.
But you also have Richmond Villlage (often referred to as Richmond Proper so as not to confuse it with the borough), which is also in Richmond Borough.

You dont need to live in Richmond to benefit from all the shops and restaurants, you may equally well live in Barnes or East Sheen, or Putney. If you are in either of these places, the other ones are in easy reach, both by car and public transport.

I live in Putney, the most eastern. It is just 10 minutes to East Sheen and Barnes from here, 15 to Kew, 20 minutes to Richmond. I spent a year living in East Sheen, and loved it. Being "10 minutes down the road" have not changed my life much.

From Richmond to Marble Arch, The London Journey planner calculates around 45 minutes, I would say an hour at most.
From Richmond to Green park, 35 minutes, so would say 45 minutes.

From Barnes Bridge to Green Park, 40 minutes
From Barnes Bridge to Marble Arch, 46 minutes
From Barnes to Green Park 32 minutes
From Barnes to Marble Arch, varies between 39-48 minutes.

But not direct lines, train and then tube/bus.

London Journey Planner

Shorter journey times if you go from Putney. There is even a bus direct to Park Lane.

A few examples of homes in Putney:

5 bed house 2.5 mil

another 5 bed - bigger garden, but less "period" which means it is a modern build

3 mil can buy you another bedroom...But do you need six?

But look at this 7 bed beauty!

And in North Barnes, where your husband can take the bus to Hammersmith station (10 minutes), tube is only 15 minute to Green park.

And you have this beauty: 6 bedroom, fab garden

But this 5 bed house has a fantastic location overlooking the park at Barnes Pond - My top choice! grin I love the area, bang smack in Barnes village, cute quaint shops, small art gallery, lovely florists, some good restaurants, and by the river. Either Bus to Hammersmith, or equal distance to both Barnes and Barnes Bridge (maybe Barnes is a little closer)

Honestly, you are spoilt for choice.

We are all biased as to the different areas, as we are all (mostly) promoting areas where we live, or know very well, and therefore love.

But, south of the river you get much more for your money. You get more open landscapes, you get the river. Much better air quality.

Personally, having grown up by the sea, I would feel totally boxed in without living in proximity of the river....

lily3 Sat 10-Nov-12 13:40:53

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wow thank you for all that information as well as the links! Super helpful.

And thanks everyone else for the added information! DH and I now have lots to go on, I think I have 5 pages of notes!

lalalonglegs Sat 10-Nov-12 14:19:00

Good luck lily3 - don't go on LLL, the presenters are twats and the houses they find are generally rank grin. Are either of you coming to London before your husband's job starts? You can't beat pounding the pavements and getting a feel for the area that way. There's also an American Women of London Club here so, if you want some advice from expats, they might be able to give you some help.

ScaredySquirrel Sat 10-Nov-12 14:23:57

you need to be in Hampstead. that's all.

ScaredySquirrel Sat 10-Nov-12 14:29:24

here is one just north of Hampstead here is one in the centre of Hampstead

Lots of people in the same set up as you there, lots of private schools. near the Heath, easy to get into town, chi chi boutiques, coffee shops, safe, etc.

ScaredySquirrel Sat 10-Nov-12 14:32:19

although this is the house I would buy if I had won Euromillions last night - not sure its the area for you, but I would live there like a shot rather than Holloway

emanuela Sat 10-Nov-12 14:49:53

I vote for Hampstead as well. As far as commute is concerned, you walk ten minutes to finchley road and you are on the jubilee line. Plenty of sahm, green spaces, great schools. Gayton road is American central (you should have gone there at Halloween). Please do go and have a look you will fall in love with the area

poopnscoop Sat 10-Nov-12 14:52:06

I live on the border of Wimbledon Village and Southfields... 2 mins away from Wimbledon Common... Few more from Wimbledon Park, a few more from Richmond Park...

Horse riding, child friendly, family focusses, lots to do, good schools locally, excellent public transport, village feel, half an hour into Central London.

I'm biased of course as I have my own childcare business which is outstanding in every way - I love what I do! And the little children thrive. We are out and about in the local community a lot and it's a really nice place to bring children up in.

You also get far better value for money when spending that kind of money for a house here than a house in for eg: Barnes (where my sister lives)... Where houses that are over £1/2million k have street parking.... if I was spending that kind of money I'd want a gorgeous house with a garage (or two) and perhaps even a pool smile

SW London gets the thumbs up from me for sure! grin

EverybodysSpookyEyed Sat 10-Nov-12 15:03:03

Scaredy - I like the central hampstead house but that hallway really needs new wallpaper!!

It comes down to size vs location. You need I decide where you want to compromise

Londonista1975 Sat 10-Nov-12 15:59:37

Hampstead is fabulous, but a ten minute walk to Finchley Road tube station is stretching it, unless you live in the Frognal part.

emanuela Sat 10-Nov-12 16:44:12

Londonista, I used to live in Fitzjohns Avenue and it took me 7 minutes to walk down to Finchley Road. Having said that, I walk very fast. I guess from the house in Willoughby Road, you could jump on the 46 or 268 and go to Swiss Cottage/Finchley Road.

ScaredySquirrel Sat 10-Nov-12 17:17:08

tube is relatively easy to mayfair too from hampstead itself.

Loads of Americans in Hampstead, and bankers (and their wives). Lots for children to do too - Heath gorgeous.

Levantine Sat 10-Nov-12 23:09:29

I agree hampstead would definitely suit

achillea Tue 13-Nov-12 14:15:45

I think the Finchley Road / Fitzjohns side of Hampstead is a good idea, especially if you want to get to Heathrow frequently. The HR express goes from Paddington and it's that bit easier. Never underestimate traffic and transport issues in London.

You need to decide what kind of house you want - modern and spacious or olde worlde London. Most central London homes are old, pokey and drafty, even the £3M ones. If you want big open US style you will need to go to one of the suburbs like Hertfordshire where you can get what you want.

Also decide on the type of community you want. Wealthy areas (like Chelsea, Kensington, Notting Hill may have the most coffee shops but they can be the least friendly. If community is your priority you need to live somewhere slightly less urban but still wealthy like Muswell Hill, Richmond or Dulwich. Hampstead is a law unto itself and has a bit of both.

London is more micro-mixed if you like, you will live very close to a poor area wherever you choose to base yourself. It really is down to where your local shop is, what the walk to the station or park is like, so before deciding on a property, consider this. Estate agents never do.

Beware of areas where there are a high number of reasonably expensive flats - it usually means that there are two parents working and very few SAHMs.

achillea Tue 13-Nov-12 14:22:56
lalalonglegs Tue 13-Nov-12 14:49:32

Ooooh, that's gorgeous. Sadly I can only afford one floor of it sad.

Matsikula Tue 13-Nov-12 14:53:27

Ha, the Financial News piece is funny.

Lots of good suggestions here, but I think we are missing another important question here, which is addressed by the Financial News reference to arty-ness and hipsterdom.

Most of the places mentioned above are glossy rather than cool - either Euro glossy or home counties British glossy.

If, on the other hand, you like museums, go for somewhere like Hampstead, Highgate or some of the Islington fringes. If you like a mean flat white served by an Antipodean barista with a severe fringe and statement glasses, go for Fitzrovia or Bloomsbury (where there is also a great children's playground called Coram's Fields).

If you like a mix, Herne Hill is actually not a bad choice - some lovely houses for your budget, lots of parks and kids activities, good private schools, plus Brixton down the road, which has a burgeoning new restaurant scene (small lo-fi places, on the whole). It would also be a surprisingly quick commute - 10 minutes to Victoria by overland train and then another 10 minutes to change to the underground and get to Green Park. Not many people have heard of it though.

Matsikula Tue 13-Nov-12 14:56:21

That place in Hampstead is beautiful. Buy it lily3, buy it!

legalalien Tue 13-Nov-12 14:59:59

Matsikula - not to mention lovely neighbours smile. There are a few bankers in these parts, including some American ones, but only the nice ones who are happy to hang out with us less well paid mortals. wink

likeatonneofbricks Tue 13-Nov-12 15:23:46

Both Hampstead and Richmond suit OP like a glove from all that she mentioned! But there aer differences - Richmond imo is more charming and even spectacular in places (the riverside, long long walks to either Kew or Ham along the river), huge park, lots of wealthy Americans there, but it's not great for quick commutes. Not too bad if you near the station and your H can go to Waterloo on overground then a couple of stops to Greem Park, so something like 45 min in total, BUT you have to be near station (walking) as traffic is horrendous in rush hour past the main station. AND my bugbear is hte PLANE noise in Richmond, you really have to go and see a house a couple of times as they change the flight paths slightly - the further from the station the better though the elegant Richmond Green houses are not oo bad for that (and v.expensive).
Hampstead is more closed-in, but easier to get to the centre on the tube, and you can be ok-ish with cabs late at night 9about 15-20 pounds though) whereas Richmond is really far by cab. Hapstead has a very strong Jewish community, possibly Jewish-American, if that's you group then got for Hampstead.
Museums, Matsi? imo nothing beats South Kensington - Science, Natural History, and most of all for me the V&A(decorative arts, OP, plus many events and lectures), direct line from Richmomnd btw but not quick, can be 45min with the wait.

Matsikula Tue 13-Nov-12 15:33:53

legalalien - hello neighbour! Though I should perhaps admit to being on the slightly grungier side of Herne Hill.

Likeatonneofbricks - I was going by type of person with the museum reference, not by what's actually there, if you see what I mean. Hampstead traditionally being artistic and intellectual, and with a lot of those types still about.

likeatonneofbricks Tue 13-Nov-12 16:05:56

Matsu - ah ok! yes Hampstead is quite arty but I'd say more academic/editor/writer territory even more. Richmond is more about luxury and landscape grin, to me it's much more 'jolly' than H. Edgy arty is really east london, yes. OP didn't mention her arty side though so it doesn;t seem to be a priority, I think similar sahms, space, and the general niceness of area matter. and an easy commute.

likeatonneofbricks Tue 13-Nov-12 16:13:36

Holland Park is very nice though OP, I'd def live there, great for transport and amenities yet uncrowded and very leafy (residential streets I mean, not the main 'high street' which is noisy), but you'd have to settle for less space, both in terms of house - could get a maisonette - and the space of the area.

lily3 Tue 13-Nov-12 18:54:35

I have a question about the size of London homes. Most of the homes we have been looking at, in our budget, are between 2,000-3,000 sqft. How many family members would typically live in a home this size? I am wondering if we could comfortably have 3 children in a home this size. Or do Londoners have smaller families because of lack of space? I suppose it just takes some getting used to, after being spoiled for space in the US.

legalalien Tue 13-Nov-12 19:08:03

Normal for London, but a bit of a shock if you are an American ( or an Aussie).

MustafaCake Tue 13-Nov-12 19:14:26

Just a vote for NOT choosing Notting HIll.

Crowded and full of tourists at all times - ugh!

lalalonglegs Tue 13-Nov-12 19:23:09

2-3000 sq ft pretty big for London. The Victorian houses around us tend to be 1500-1800 sq ft and everyone has three kids (and a dog).

mummytime Tue 13-Nov-12 19:27:39

I think our house is abut 2500 sq ft, and it is considered to be big (and we're outside London). You could easily have 4 or 5 kids here, we have 3. The house size will be a big shock after California, again you have to think more NYC.

EverybodysSnowyEyed Tue 13-Nov-12 19:29:17

It's plenty big enough!

Think manhattan when you think about central London!

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Tue 13-Nov-12 19:39:36

2-3,000 square feet is massive in London. Lots of people I know have 2 or more kids in tiny two beds. You need to think Manhatten, not LA! I know a couple of Americans who have found the adjustment very hard and ended up moving to huge new builds in Surrey (with long commutes) as a result. One friend actually cried when she saw her husband's gorgeous victorian terrace as she felt it was so small!

Personally if I had 2-3 million I would go for Greenwich or Blackheath. Good private schools if you are going private. Masses of open space, which compensates for smaller houses. Good access out of town, reasonably easy to Gatwick, etc. We lived there until recently and I adore it, but simply couldn't afford a family home. You'd get somewhere lovely and there are loads of SAHMs

Devora Tue 13-Nov-12 20:54:05

Petersham is absolutely beautiful, though sleepier than a dead sloth.

ameliacampbell Wed 05-Dec-12 20:52:48

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

16052013 Sat 05-Jan-13 19:49:55

Oh AmeliaCampbell, I knew you sounded familiar!

S'okay everyone, she's an esate agent...

<Solves mystery>

16052013 Sat 05-Jan-13 19:52:40

BTW, Brook Green is just an overpriced part of Shepherd's Bush/Hammersmith.

The 'Kensington side of Brook Green' is Addison Gardens area. There was a fatal stabbing here just before Christmas.

You can always rely on 1605 to tell you the truth about West London grin

HenryP Tue 26-Mar-13 10:08:54

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clb Tue 26-Mar-13 11:42:43

Just to say that you should be careful about two things:

- aircraft noise, which blights, to a varying degree, much of SW London (we just decided against Richmond, Ealing, Fulham and Wandsworth for this reason). Not everyone cares about it as much as we do, though!

- private schools. If your children are already toddlers, you will already be too late to get them into a few of the schools (not necessarily the best ones). It's something to investigate asap - get a month's subscription to the Good Schools Guide online and have a read.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 26-Mar-13 14:26:43

I was going to make the point that CLB was going to make OP.

If I were you, if you are thinking of entering the British system either private or stake, it is safer to assume you need to start with the school and work backwards.

CLP is absolutely right on the private schools - entrance tests, waiting lists, names on since pregnancy - all across London even where I live in the East which I don't think has been mentioned on this thread. (Google Chigwell which is nearby - you never know, ya might like it wink!)

I am originally from the US and it wouldn't have occurred to before moving here that a state school across the road from you won't automatically have a place for you, like it would in the US. Many of the good state schools in are oversubscribed and you could well be offered something a fair distance from your house.

If you are thinking of a US international school I doubt you'll ahve any issues getting a place, as there seems to be a high turnover of children. In that case you may also want to consider Esher/Cobham - my American friend who was living here for a while with her husband liked the American school there very much - nice community. There are separate sorts of issues with these schools though (the high turnover of families for one thing, quality of the academics relative to British schools) that you may want to consider...but that feels like a topic for another thread.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 26-Mar-13 14:28:03

this thread is basically a zombie too...

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