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What's it really like to live in walthamstow?

(171 Posts)
MrsN11 Mon 01-Oct-12 19:27:37


I'm looking for some advice from fellow 'stow MNers who live in the area.

I put up a post ages ago asking for suggestions about where DH and I should live. We currently live in Stokey and have approx 450k to spend on our next property. I work east & DH works west! We love Stokey, but realise that Walthamstow would offer us more space for our budget.

So what is 'stow really like to live in? Dodgy? Safe? Fun etc? We've visited the area & the "village" is pretty but also tiny - does it feel claustrophobic being there? Queen's park is another option (need to be close to tube) but some parts look tired. But first impressions can be wrong!

Everyone says it's up-and-coming, but has much changed there in the last 5 years?

Be great to hear your thoughts! Thank you.

herbaceous Mon 08-Oct-12 08:51:20

Ah, away away. For our requirements - easy commute, so DP can see DS; cheap-ish; not 'commuters-ville'; lots going on; and between GPs in Berkshire and Suffolk - it kind of ticks all the boxes.

Mikocat Wed 10-Oct-12 22:53:01

rubyslipper I love you.

Walthamstowdad Thu 11-Oct-12 09:28:14



psimonk Thu 11-Oct-12 10:46:34

LOL. I'm with WalthamstowDad on this one! (So much so, I've had to join MN this am finally, after seeing his tweet on this, and our local MP Stella Creasy tweeting about it too.)

If all you want from an area is an organic cafe and farmers market do feel free to head to Queen's Park (where your 450k will buy you no doubt a nice shoebox) - the last thing we need round here is bazillions more Stokey types moving in and pricing everyone out. Frankly, you'll be unlikely to find anywhere in London that truly satisfies with an attitude like that!

What's good about Walthamstow (or #awesomestow as we call it on Twitter) is its community - but that's meant in a very real sense. Yes, there are fewer organic shops but there's still loads of stuff like that if you want it (and some, shock, outside the village). But more importantly, there's a fruit and veg guy on the market who I know so well he tells me what to buy each day and often gets in special orders for me. There's also lovely frou-frou pubs and restaurants in the village, but even better places outside, where you walk in and know loads of people.

That's because most middle class locals who don't live in the village, do believe in putting back into the local community - not just taking out. That's why we have an amazing community of artists and creative types and local activists and a brilliant network of supportive parents etc etc. But most village residents sadly seem to run from the tube to the shelter of their mini-Stokey - and therefore miss all this.

As to schools, if your guide is Ofsted, you'll definitely be wanting to look elsewhere. If your guide is well-rounded, happy kids who have a really wide variety of mates - then most of the local primary schools are just fine. And secondary schools? Three smart, middle class, university-bound kids on our street went through the local ones recently and came out other end just fine!

Finally, as to crime and safety - the idea that people from Hackney are worrying about Walthamstow's safety I find just hilarious! Just about anywhere in London you might get trouble - and about anywhere in east London has its rough patches. But broadly speaking, if you treat people around you nicely, most will treat you back nicely. And Walthamstow is if anything a bit quiet. Ultimately, your precious kids are statistically far more likely to be flattened by a lorry on any one of loads of busy streets in east London than they are likely to be knifed - and that holds for Queens Park also etc.

Sheesh - if you want to live in London, then you need to live here. Don't just use your local area as a dormitory and convenient cake stop to catch up with your yummy mummy friends while ignoring the vibrancy and variety outside the window. If you're going to do that, you might as well make that break for Surrey/Herts right now and keep the house prices vaguely reachable by real people.

Final /rant over/ thought - when I got back from honeymoon in Thailand ten years back, I'd learnt to cook several Thai dishes - I found I could get all of the ingredients I needed (holy basil, galangal, lemongrass, weird-shaped aubergines etc.) within two blocks of my house. That's on the shop parades others on here have characterised as run down and all pound shops.

QWERTYmonster Thu 11-Oct-12 10:58:15

Oh good grief, if you're gonna come over from Twitter and get all shouty (HI WALTHAMSTOWDAD ARE YOU NEW BY ANY CHANCE?) at least read the thread.

It's full of people saying how great Walthamstow is. As you appear not to have noticed. Perhaps because you're so intent on characterising MNers as smug bints? Are you prejudiced in all directions, or just against mothers? Maybe you want to check the mote in your own eye, eh?

bunjies Thu 11-Oct-12 11:00:39

3 cheers for psimonk's post. I love walthamstow market. My dad shops there every week & I am so jealous of the stuff he comes home with.

MissM Thu 11-Oct-12 12:06:02

We moved out of Walthamstow three years ago to the west Midlands. I miss it like hell! It's a great place to have small children (I had both mine there). Loads going on, great community, great transport, diversity... The village is definitely over-priced - we lived in Lloyd Park which is lovely, and much nicer (imo). £450K will buy you something lovely - we sold our very nice 2-bed terrace with big garden in a lovely quiet street for £240K in 2008. I never had any trouble in the 9 years I lived there, and also stumbled back from the tube late many times. Yes it is shabby, but I always thought it was one of London's best kept secrets (not so much any more apparently!)

MadBusLadyHauntsTheMetro Thu 11-Oct-12 12:30:49


Ahem. Sorry.

Disclaimer: I don't live in Walthamstow, but I've been underwhelmed by the village on the couple of times I've been through there, so you are not alone. It's not big enough to do a daily shop (unless your diet consists entirely of artisan cheese and organic sausages). It's a bit of a play village, really.

The High St has been ok when I've walked down there (apart from the big screen, which is distopian and horrible!), wouldn't hang around there at 2 in the morning but you can do a shop there. But then if rough and ready high streets are your bag there are tons of them all over NE and E London so I'm not sure why Walthamstow in particular has acquired this amazing reputation.

Warpdog Thu 11-Oct-12 13:30:12

Ahem. I hear Queens Park area is really nice...

The first (and last) time I ever went to Stoke Newington, I had a lit firework thrown at me and two (very middle class) people tried to start a fight with me. Nice.

psimonk Thu 11-Oct-12 13:35:50

MadBusLadyHauntsTheMetro: "If rough and ready high streets are your bag there are tons of them all over NE and E London so I'm not sure why Walthamstow in particular has acquired this amazing reputation."

I don't quite know what turned Walthamstow into #Awesomestow - it's a unique mix of rough and ready, plus chi-chi and showy, plus incredibly transport accessible, plus amazing open spaces, plus a good mix of urban and suburban and even at moments oddly rural, plus, most importantly, really community minded.

If you've only sauntered the High Street and sampled the village, you'll have likely missed most of that. But unlike most other places in east London I've hung around in, there really is a cohesive and strong sense of community under the surface.

I'd also say it's a minus mark to some commenters on here that to them the bits of London they live in or near can be so easily dismissed in such generic terms and so quickly. City living is about reaching out and helping make the place around you, about forcing connections somewhere that connections don't necessarily come so instantly or easily. Strolling for five minutes through any town rarely shows you its character - why do some here feel happy writing off areas of London without delving a bit deeper? And why do some on this thread seem genuinely unengaged with the areas they live in - reducing them to a cafe/farmers market/Ofsted count? Guess I'm spoilt in Walthamstow that I know loads of people locally who simply don't view the world that way!

hackneybird Thu 11-Oct-12 13:47:36

This thread is fascinating. We're also priced out of N16 (although we're in the less desirable Stamford Hill area) and have had an offer accepted on a house near Wood Street.

We're moving to E17 as we have heard so many really good things about the area and liked both the main shopping centre (it has fishmongers!), the street market and yes, the village felt nice too.

The house we are trying to buy though has lots of problems, so we might have to pull out. If so, which other areas should we look at? What's it like living in the Queen Street area or Central Walthamstow?

MysteriousHamster Thu 11-Oct-12 13:49:27

I lived in Walthamstow for about four years when I was a student and just after from 99-2002ish. So yes, a long time ago - but anyway

I worked in the cinema there when it was still a going concern so often walked home late at night on my own and never had a problem (some teenage boys shouting once). Also worked in the bookshop for a year and loved the mix of community that came into the store.

We lived near Blackhorse Rd and never had any issues though if we were going to buy we would've wanted a nicer street.

The village seemed a bit overhyped to me at the time.

willyoulistentome Thu 11-Oct-12 13:51:56

My brother used to live there. I thought it was a shithole!

psimonk Thu 11-Oct-12 14:12:41


Central Walthamstow - more built up than most areas, but better transport links and easier access to market and shops. Some roads have great community vibe, some a bit quieter.

Queens Road area - quite quiet and a bit cut off feeling, although that should get better in terms of transport links when pedestrian link from Queens Rd station to Walthamstow Central finally gets put in (2014?). I know lots of happy people round this bit, but to me I'd rather go other side of market/tracks - north towards Bell Corner/Lloyd Park - than south.

Also check out Lloyd Park area - really good for families, and roads either side of Church Hill. And loads of nice stuff near Wood Street if the place you're going for doesn't work out (good luck).

mumtooneandthreechickens Thu 11-Oct-12 14:23:25

Hi I live between Wood St and Highams Park (closer to Wood st) and its great for the bus and train and all sorts of shops which I love as I love to cook food from around the world. We know both sets of neighbours and others in our local streets and are on the list for an allotment, so are starting to feel quite settled, we've been here two years there is no way we could afford the village and not sure we'd want to if we could... it is nice but cliquey and we got a 3 bed house for 247 k where we are! But we also are wondering, do we move right out of London or stay? We want a much bigger garden and a less urban feel. And we know we won't get that in London on our budget! But we would really miss east London if we left sad and we say that a south London girl born and bred and a small town yorkshire lad smile

Adair Thu 11-Oct-12 14:29:10

Ha ha ha, am v amused by this thread being both #awesomestow twitterati (though not top trumps yet <EYES WALTHAMSTOWDAD>) and MN regular...

<sssh> I moved from Stokey. And if you looked at me, you'd maybe think I was one of them Stokey types (I had a Bugaboo for a bit, wore Converse, I even had a cup of tea with my other mummy friends sometimes- gasp). And I was/am! But I ALSO liked being able to buy turkish bread round the corner, my daughter living in a diverse area and chat to people I knew.

I have been in Walthamstow for three years (you can search my name for more info). I love it here! Yes,there is a village with chi-chi stuff,and nice stuff to be found - and a variety of interesting little boutiquey new-ness and plentyof pound shops and mobile phone shops. But my worries about whether it would have a sense of community were SO unfounded - there is the best community here. The E17 Art Trail is basically artists who don't know each other, supporting each other. And there are amazing drama classes... (er, am outing myself here). I am round Lloyd Park as we couldn't afford the village (or Clapton's murder mile...).

Ultimately, I have a nice house with a big garden near nice people for less than my N16 flat, my kids go to a caring school with lovely friends, I am already part of a vibrant and arty community, and I can still buy turkish bread from the corner shop. What's not to like?*

*unless you want to go and live in dullsville Surrey or Hertfordshire or Kent or something

notanaxemurderer Thu 11-Oct-12 14:39:20

I've lived in Walthamstow for four years. It is SO much more than the Village - which I find unbearably yummy mummy. The real community is to be found outside. Walthamstow is full of pockets of amazingly talented artists, strong community groups, activists etc.

Walking through the village or down the high street you won't find the Hornbeam Cafe, a co-op which serves organic food and leads foraging expeditions. You won't see the beautiful new Lloyd Park with its lovely gallery. You won't discover the Paekakariki Press, one man's passion for an old-fashioned printing press brought to life in a renovated studio. You'll miss the Rose and Crown theatre and pub, a hub for poets, comedians, actors, singers, mums groups and book groups. I could go on ... but I'm happy with Walthamstow the way it is. We don't need any Bugaboo wankers or whatever it was Walthsmtow Dad said.

MissM Thu 11-Oct-12 14:48:33

One reason for its attraction? It's still 'cheap' (in London terms). We bought our lovely house there for £110K in 2000, when flats in Stokey and elsewhere were fetching nearer 2 or 300. 'Normal' people can afford houses, which is why I liked it so much - the people I knew there were on similar incomes and in similar stages to life as me. And the gardens are a good size (well, they were in Lloyd Park).

Agree about the big screen though - very Big Brother.

MadBusLadyHauntsTheMetro Thu 11-Oct-12 14:51:09

City living is about reaching out and helping make the place around you, about forcing connections somewhere that connections don't necessarily come so instantly or easily.

Oddly enough, Psimonk that's exactly what I thought when you inevitably mentioned the community-mindedness in Walthamstow.

I have never, ever, on this board or any other, heard anyone recommend a place they live in without their adding the tagline "it has a great sense of community".

A sense of community, as you say, is what people will find if they move to a place intending to talk to people and make friends, and attend every student's art installation and every local authority picnic in the park. So, Zone 2 places where everyone lives in rented shoe boxes excepted, you can find/create a great sense of community in lots of places. It is not a unique recommendation of any particular place, including Walthamstow.

Adair Thu 11-Oct-12 14:54:16

Absolutely agree MadBusLady, a community is what you make it.
I think people are scared that they won't make friends. But you will. Wherever you are.

LFCisTarkaDahl Thu 11-Oct-12 14:54:35

confused which bit is the village? I thought the bit round Lloyd park is the village.

Is it a teeny area then?

GeoGeo Thu 11-Oct-12 15:01:54

I've lived in Waltham Forest for 18 yrs - first in W'stow, then 12 in Leytonstone, now back in W'stow. It is as they say a 'happening place' now and beginning to show signs of change. Two more pubs being refurbed for m/c incomers. No question it's a vibrant multicultural community in which the vast majority of people respect each other. For proof of this, see the current 'We are Waltham Forest' anti-fascist campaign. On 1st September, 3,000 locals from all sections of the community successfully countered racist EDL marchers. There is a mood of confidence in the air as we prepare to stop the EDL again on 27 Oct. Do come along - this will be a fully stewarded, peaceful demonstration. I'll be there with my teenage kids. Join us.
However, you may want to look down the road in Leytonstone, which is leafier, quieter and has more decent, big-ish houses. Central line tube. Red Lion gentrified pub. Schools, tho not grt. Aim for Gwyn Jones primary in Hainault Road, but you'll need to be in the catchment.

herbaceous Thu 11-Oct-12 15:05:02

Officially, conservation-area-wise, the village is small - just the area around St Mary's Church, Vestry House Museum, Orford Road... Practically, it extends westwards to Hoe Street, eastwards to Shernhall, and south to Grove Road. For estate agents, its anywhere south of the station.

Stokey Thu 11-Oct-12 16:36:48

I am one of the ex-stokey types who moved to get more house for my money. Few boutiquey village shops, cheap fruit and veg on hoe st and good groups at children centres have all been great but similar to where i was. What has surprised me is the general friendliness and politeness. Strangers say hello to you on the street, people let you pass with double buggy... this to me makes it a more pleasant place to live.

MonkeysAhoy Thu 11-Oct-12 19:07:57

We moved to walthamstow in 2005, pre-kids, and I've now spent 2 maternity leaves noting how the area has subtly changed over the past 7 years. I've noticed the gradual influx Of more stokey/middle class types (of which we were/are to be honest) but I'm very happy to be living here and have no plans to move (I live in coppermill pane area and love the equally easy access to the marshes, the market, good

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