Urban villages for the country-shy

“For many central Londoners, the prospect of upping-sticks and moving to the sticks is just one step too far,” says Sara Ransom of Stacks Property Search.

“Upsizing from a one or two bedroom flat in Kensington or Chelsea, to a family sized property in the same area is, for most, financially challenging to say the least. Londoners who grow out of their central London property have traditionally looked at making an out of town move, but there seems to be an increasing desire to find an urban alternative to a nice rural village community.”

Why might that be?

Sara Ransom says, “Many Londoners have seen friends make a move to the country and don’t like the look of the lifestyle. Careers and jobs demand longer and longer hours, and greater commitment, so the working partner, or both partners, find that they rarely see their family, spending more time with their colleagues and fellow commuters, leaving children in the hands of school and complicated child care arrangements.

“I think there’s a wariness too about the concept of the rural idyll. Those that yearn for ponies and Labradors continue to seek out country bliss; but there are plenty of Londoners who are reluctant to swap their kitten heels for wellies.

“You don’t have to move far out of the centre of London to take advantage of considerable price differentials. And the picture changes all the time as transport improves, and previously gritty areas become gentrified.

“Urban villages currently in vogue where you can buy a good family house with the proceeds of the sale of your two bedroom apartment in Chelsea include:

Northcote Road, SW11 (for latte lovers)

Once just the name of a road, now a village in its own right, complete with a strong neighbourhood community, a Saturday farmers market, great state schools, independent shops, fish market, and appealing bistros and bars. You won’t get much garden, but Clapham Common and Wandsworth Common are just a five minute walk (in heels) away.

Southfields, SW18 (for tennis lovers)

Easy access to the City from Earlsfield overground, gastro pubs galore, and wonderful Edwardian properties with big rooms and high ceilings. On the doorstep are two parks and Wimbledon Common, so Labradors aren’t out of the question.

Bermondsey Street, SE1 (for the uber-cool)

Virtually on the River, choose from cool warehouse conversions, Georgian townhouses, or open plan new builds with urban balconies. A healthy walk takes you to Borough Market. The Jubilee Line addresses most transport issues. Lots of advertising / media types; less baby and toddler groups.

Brackenbury Village, W6 (for reluctant Kensington-leavers)

Hidden peace between the road hubs of Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush, and within a brisk walk (or a few minutes on the bus) of Kensington High Street. Central Line to the City, and easy access to the M4 and Heathrow. Victorian terraces and little parks, independent shops and cafes, all wrapped up in a feels-like-Central-London comfort blanket.

Old York Road, SW18 (for family planners)

Our shout for the new Nappy Valley, this is quirky but elegant London with art galleries, designer clothes boutiques, great nurseries (children not flowers), close to the river, and easy to get out of town by way of the A3. It feels like a village, but is reassuringly close to Fulham and Putney.

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