The renaissance of this former dock has gone largely unnoticed, and house prices are generally cheaper than surrounding areas. Carl Davenport, of estate agents Chesterton Humberts, says Rotherhithe is the “overlooked neighbour” of Tower Bridge. “Prices are in many cases cheaper by up to 20 per cent on a like to like basis,” he says. “Though once thought of as a bit of a no-man’s-land connecting Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf, the area is currently undergoing a massive makeover which will serve to neaten up the passageway”.
WHAT TO BUY: Modern apartments can be picked up for as little as £160,000. A smart studio flat in the Windsor Court development, with under-floor heating, a patio looking overlooking the river and use of a communal pool is on the market for £194,000 with Foxtons (0800 369 8667, www.foxtons.co.uk). Living on a boat is a funky option for the open-minded buyer, and can offer surprisingly good value for money: a spacious, smartly decorated two-bedroom Dutch Clipper moored in the marina can be purchased for £249,950 with River Homes (020 7407 2000, www.riverhomes.co.uk).
For most people, Upminster is simply the word that pops up as a final destination for District line trains, but it is a leafy Essex suburb that’s worth waiting to the end of the line for. Away from the hubbub of more built-up areas, it has a quiet atmosphere with plenty of space for kids to roam around. Interesting features include the oldest working windmill in greater London (who knew there were any working windmills in London at all?). There are some excellent schools – and, of course, you reach the City without having to change trains (and you’re pretty much guaranteed yourself a seat).
WHAT TO BUY: Rambling houses with extensive gardens can reach in excess of £1m, but there are significantly more affordable properties too. Three and four bedroom, bay-fronted semis from the 1930s can be found for under £500,000, and a three bedroom semi-detached bungalow close to the station is currently on the market for £359,995 (contact Baglores on 01708 463005 or go to www.bagloresproperty.co.uk).
A vibrant, buzzy enclave in northwest London. Often held back by a reputation for knife crime and muggings, crime levels in Harlesden have in fact fallen, and its affordable Victorian terraces are attracting increasing numbers of young professionals priced out of neighbouring Kensal Green and Queen’s Park. It’s an easy journey into central London via the Bakerloo line, while the smart delights of Ladbroke Grove, Maida Vale and Notting Hill are nearer at hand.
WHAT TO BUY: One bedroom flats in pretty period terraces can be snapped up for as little as £150,000, while family-friendly three-bedroom houses can be found for under £300,000. A well-maintained terraced cottage with three large double bedrooms near Willesden Junction tube station is going for £299,950 with Mathesons (020 8965 2250, www.mathesonsestates.com).
Nestled on the south bank of the Thames, Bermondsey has come a long way from its days as one of London’s most notorious slums, when it was described by Dickens in Oliver Twist as representing “every loathsome indication of filth, rot and garbage”. Extensive redevelopment has transformed much of Bermondsey into an appealing but affordable place, particularly appropriate for City people. There’s plenty of culture and entertainment within walking distance, from Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe to the restaurants and bars clustered round Borough Market. The riverside development More London has brought more vibrancy to the area, while Bermondsey Square is home to a swanky new hotel, shopping and residential complex.
WHAT TO BUY: Bermondsey Central, a block of smart, high spec apartments built around a shared courtyard, is typical of the new developments springing up in the area. The project is set to complete this summer, and prices start at £280,000 for a one bedroom apartment. You’ll find more info at www.bermondseycentralse1.com.
COLLIERS WOOD, SW19
Residents of Colliers Wood can enjoy the prestigious SW19 postcode – famous for the All England Tennis Club – without the hefty Wimbledon Village price tag. It might be home to London’s ugliest building – the Colliers Wood Tower, as voted in a BBC poll – but the fact that residents cite this as the worst thing about Colliers Wood is reassuring if anything. Being on the Northern line, it has easy access to the City and the West End while overground travel from Raynes Park takes you into Waterloo, or out to the shopper’s paradise of Kingston.
WHAT TO BUY: Two bedroom apartments go for around £200,000. A well-presented one bedroom apartment on Merton High Street station has an asking price of £150,000 (call 020 8544 2828 or go to www.allinthepostcode.com).