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A house in a worse London area or a flat in a better borough? WWYD?

(43 Posts)
bangbangprettypretty Sat 06-Jun-15 20:26:29

My DH and I have finally scraped, borrowed and begged enough cash for a deposit on our first home.

We have been renting in London for the last five years and are desperate for a place of our own (and are holding off having DC in case it affects our mortgage application as we're currently in a tiny one-bed flat).

Today we went to see two houses - solid two-bed Victorian terraces, one with full planning permission for two extra bedrooms. Both have gardens.

However I have Kirstie Allsop in my ear shrilling 'location, location, location', and the area we can afford to buy a house is not a very nice one. Should we just go for it and hope it gets better? Or would it be better to get a flat in a slightly nicer area? I am so out of my comfort zone with property.

If anyone has any advice/experience to share I'd be so grateful as we might just be about to make a massive mistake!

RaisingSteam Sat 06-Jun-15 20:35:57

When we were in this situation, we went for a house and it held/ increased value better than a flat that our friends bought at the same time did.

I remember, because SE15 was quite dubious then, we had a friend in the local police who gave us the run down on various roads we were considering - we eliminated a few because he said they had known "problem" addresses near them. Where we ended up buying was fairly quiet, in fact we experienced hardly any crime/antisocial issues in the years we lived there. You could perhaps get the same information from the online crime maps now.

BrowersBlues Sat 06-Jun-15 20:40:35

When I faced this decision I went for the not so nice house in a nice area. I have been in the house 12 years and have done it up and absolutely love it. I love the area I live in. I know that I could have got a bigger house in a not so nice area but I don't regret my choice.

I can't advise you. I don't live in London but no doubt MNs who do will give you good advice.

Just curious, would you consider moving outside of London and getting more for your money?

Awayday Sat 06-Jun-15 20:42:20

I think it depends how bad the area with the house is. Could you say which areas you are looking at? It would be worth it if it was an area on the up.

Also how long are you planning to stay in the property?

Caitmous Sat 06-Jun-15 20:49:50

I don't know that there are any worse parts of London these days. Massive gentrification of the rough parts round my part of SE London. Places considered 'rough' a few years ago now very trendy, desirable. Thinking Catford, Brixton, Peckham etc. I think no go areas are a thing of the past.

PrimalLass Sat 06-Jun-15 20:52:50

I'd say what the area is on this thread. You'll get better advice that way.

TheOriginalWinkly Sat 06-Jun-15 20:56:31

You definitely need to say the area. Eg, Catford is getting 'naicer' and when you come to move you'll likely make big money, Edmonton is getting less 'naice' by the day and you'll struggle when it's time to move on. House prices in good areas rise faster than in less nice areas so if you pick the wrong location you may find you've priced yourself out of a better area in years to come.

DoloresLandingham Sat 06-Jun-15 20:57:55

Would you be willing to tell us the areas? If the area goes up then a house will appreciate better than a flat, especially as it sounds like there is scope to add value by extending.

Do look at schools, though.

bangbangprettypretty Sat 06-Jun-15 21:03:03

RaisingSteam that is a great idea about crime maps - I'll definitely look it up (suspect muggings etc might be high).

The area we looked is Hounslow - I googled it and all the results seem to be 'Is Hounslow a shithole?' and 'is Hounslow rough?' and it's slightly putting me off! I don't know if it's just one of those places like Croydon or Coventry with a reputation or whether it really won't ever get better. Our budget is around £330k which really doesn't go far.

My DH works centrally and I work in Hammersmith so in terms of areas we could get a flat in some places like Willesden or Shepherd's Bush or a house in somewhere like Hounslow. We've viewed places in Acton, Isleworth and even as far down as Tooting. East London isn't really going to work for me getting to the office although I like the houses in Walthamstow.

Browers I wouldn't really like to move out of London at this stage - DH's job is very London-based so it would be a long commute for him and I think if we did have DCs soon (which is what I'd like) it would be easier to have work and childcare close to one another as I think I'd have to go back to work after a year.

Awayday I'm hoping we'll be in the place for about five years.

bangbangprettypretty Sat 06-Jun-15 21:06:33

Cait and Winkly, Catford was EXACTLY where I was thinking about - the Guardian journo Lucy Mangan (?) used to always poke fun at it as she's from there and it had stubbornly refused to gentrify but in the last couple of years it's starting to get a bit naicer.

My DSis lives near to Catford and it doesn't exactly give Notting Hill a run for its money but its only taken a few cafes and it is now a little bit more desirable!

Artistic Sat 06-Jun-15 22:09:30

Hounslow has its good & bad parts. The property will definitely appreciate, but it's all down to where in Hounslow you are considering? I'd personally ignore online random reviews & speak to people who actually live there..if you know any. With future DC - a house is definitely a better choice than a flat.

Itshouldntmatter Sat 06-Jun-15 22:35:30

Look at the schools. Although things can change, school applications come round quickly if you are planning children soon. If not, then decide on where you want to live most.

meadowquark Sat 06-Jun-15 22:38:00

I would say house over flat for all reasons mentioned above, but then when schools come to the equation everything changes. All of a sudden you are ready to live in a shoebox to be in a good catchment.

But you don't even have DC yet, so still would say a house.

storybrooke Sat 06-Jun-15 22:47:43

I'm in Scotland but I'd go against the grain every single time... shabbiest house on the best street rather than the best house on the worst street BUT when you're talking flats vs houses you'll appreciate a house more with dcs. If its somewhere you'll feel safe with a low crime level and decent catchment area I'd go for the house.

cestlavielife Sun 07-Jun-15 00:59:52

Houndslow very suburban. Plane noise. Good if you work at Heathrow. Zone 4 or 5. Costs more in annual card To get to zone 1.
Osterley park nice though.
Try and spend a weekend there and try the commute.

Look also at flats with gardens in area you know or like. Where do you go at weekends ? Do you need to go out if london to get to family or hobbies north west or south ? Where do you live now and what do you like about it? Where do your friends live ?

LottySpot Sun 07-Jun-15 07:54:23

I work in west London and DH works in the City. We bought a 2 bed house in Norbury 5 years ago and the value has increased by 40% shock

We are on the Streathamvale side on a v quiet street with lovely neighbours.

We only bought because l was pregnant with dd1 and we didn't want to keep renting (in Shepherds Bush).

In London lots of places are improving but it's still hard for some of these places to shake their reputation. I'd contact the local association and see how committed they are to improving the area.

if you are thinking of dc then l'd go for the house.

Glastokitty Sun 07-Jun-15 08:07:02

I was going to say house rather than flat until you mentioned Hounslow. Unless it's changed drastically since I lived there,( which is very possible, it was 29 years ago) don't move there, it's horrible,

LottySpot Sun 07-Jun-15 08:12:30

And Glasto proves my point grin

bangbangprettypretty Sun 07-Jun-15 08:44:01

Thanks for all the advice.

Glasto I hope it has stepped on in 29 years!

We visited yesterday and it didn't seem any worse in terms of the town centre than Sutton, Ealing or Acton when we were expecting an absolute dump given that so many people wrinkle their noses. The plane noise was louder in some places than others.

I think the idea of having a house is seductive - having a bigger garden and people to stay would be good.
Our friends are scattered mostly around Fulham, Ealing, Barnes and Dulwich.

Ideally we would live in somewhere like Willesden Green but I think anywhere northwest is miles out of our price range. At the moment we live in Queens Park which is lovely but very much out of our price range.

dannydyerismydad Sun 07-Jun-15 08:54:28

I had the same dilemma as you about 10 years ago. I ended up plumping for a house in Berkshire and commuting to central London. I felt that a little more space was important for me. My daytime commute was actually quicker than many of my London-based colleagues, but getting home late after a few drinks was tedious.

10 years on, friends who bought in London have mostly moved out and traded up to much larger properties because of the increase in value on their flats. My house didn't show the same increase, but we managed to trade up within the local area (living close by made viewings easy as places get snapped up so quickly everywhere in the South East).

I don't think there's a right answer, but you'll know when you get the right feeling about a house and an area.

BasinHaircut Sun 07-Jun-15 09:10:14

I don't really know that side of London at all but just hypothetically if always go for the house. But I would never ever buy a leasehold or a share in a freehold as they seem to be a right royal pain in the arse.

Also, if you are going to have a child, it would need to be a fairly big flat, with a garden, convenient parking e.g. a driveway and ground floor because of prams etc. The layout would also be quite important as you don't want you child sleeping on the other side of the wall that has tour TV on it. Well that would be my essential list anyway!

We bought a house in a rough area 5 years ago and just sold it for more than 40% more than we paid for it and moved to a much better area with the proceeds. Try to be smart and maybe buy somewhere that is near a 'naive' area which may grow and swell into the area you buy in.

Wiifitmama Sun 07-Jun-15 09:26:09

I would always say location over size.

Funny you mentioned Willesden Green as that is where I live. And when we moved there, it was a real mental struggle for me as it was still up and coming and we had moved from a nicer area. Would have preferred Queens Park but couldn't afford it smile

Anyway, we moved to a flat with three kids but could have moved further out to a house. For me, being as central as possible in the nicest area as possible totally trumped size. We have been here 7 years and I have no regrets. Proximity to good tube line, proximity to shops/cafes etc. Proximity to family and friends (I don't mean in the local area - just being able to get to them easily). These were all the most important to us and stayed that way.

itdc Sun 07-Jun-15 11:39:46

i would always avoid not desired locations even that means compromising on the size

bangbangprettypretty Sun 07-Jun-15 12:20:36

I think if I was outside London it would be easier for me to decide - it's not really the choice of having the worst house on the best street or vice versa - most 'worst' houses are still over £600k. Pockets of deprivation/affluence are a bit more intertwined, I think, than where I grew up.

Wiifit I do really like Willesden Green! We could get a two bed flat in a conversion there.

It's trying to think about how we'll feel with two small kids, say, in three year's time - plus the noise we'd inevitably make. I know you can get noisy neighbours in houses but in my experience flats are more poorly sound-insulated.

Maybe I'll view some more flats and ask to see see how parents get on in there.

NotCitrus Sun 07-Jun-15 12:36:10

We went for size (Hammersmith to Streatham), and no regrets. Thing with Hounslow is the will they/won't they extend the runways at Heathrow (more jobs but also more plane noise, and its already very bad in some areas)

IME a number of Outstanding schools are so because pupils who don't fit the nice normal middle class demographic are made to feel unwelcome - an area with poorer immigrants who value education for their children may have better schools. Or may not - its all a bit random and will mainly depend on individual teachers. A house gives you more options in future and will likely hold value better.

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