London isn’t always looked at as a family friendly city to live, but there are loads of areas in London that are perfect for families. London has changed a lot in the last few years and many areas in London that may not have been family friendly ten years ago, are now incredibly popular with young families.
Areas like Peckham and East Dulwich in south London and Stoke Newington in the south-east are full of buggies, mum/dad and baby hot-spot coffee shops and a wealth of childcare and kindergarten options. Then there are the areas that have always been popular with families; suburbs with large green spaces and a village feel like Greenwich and Crystal Palace in the south, Hampstead in the north and Richmond in the west.
Many families also choose to live in the outer suburbs of London. Lower pollution levels, lower rental and living costs as well as less competition for nursery and school places can be a big factor in choosing these areas. It’s also a consideration for families who want to be able to drive in and out of London easily, without contending with the typical London inner city traffic.
Choosing where to live in London as a family can also depend on where the best schools are. Although it’s not guaranteed that your child will be accepted into the state school of your choice, living in boroughs with a collection of good schools makes sense for parents. With nurseries in London, like most areas, it’s important to look as soon as possible and join the waiting list due to high demand in popular family areas.
In this article we’ll look at several areas of London that are most popular with families and why. We’ll incorporate suburbs as well as areas closer to central London to suit different tastes and budgets.
TIP: Once you’ve narrowed areas down and wish to begin searching for homes to rent or buy, save time by getting local property experts to find the best properties for you. Snapdup, for example, offers a free property finding service to anyone moving into London, ensuring you see the property that fits your specifications as soon as or before it comes onto the market.
The Best London Suburbs for Families
Blackheath is part of the borough of both Lewisham and Greenwich and it’s one of our favourite areas of London. There’s a real village feel here, with its quaint, low rise town set on the side of a large open heath.
There are loads of really popular local cafe’s and restaurants that serve homemade, fresh food that’s often organic or locally sourced. There’s also a local butcher that’s been run by the same family for almost 50 years and who will always remember your favourite cut, as well as a greengrocer and popular library that holds regular events for pensioners.
The heath is also the site of popular family friendly festival On Blackheath, celebrating the best international and local music, food and performance with loads of childrens and family activities!
There are several schools in the area, with John Ball and All Saints being popular primary school choices. Blackheath High School has a current pass rate of 97% for both A levels and GCSE’s, with 75% of those grades being B or higher (at A level).
There is no tube in Blackheath, however you can access the City, Canary Wharf and other areas of central London from the train station in as little as 22 minutes.
Greenwich in the Royal Borough of Greenwich is one of the most beautiful boroughs of London. The views of Greenwich Park, Greenwich town and Canary Wharf from the Royal Observatory are particularly famous.
Like Blackheath, Greenwich centre feels very much like a village, albeit with several big clues that you’re in London such as the proximity to the Thames, the grand buildings of the Old Naval College (a site that’s featured in many hollywood movies when directors need distinguishable grand London architecture for their sets) and the variety and vibrancy of the local cuisine.
There are countless little restaurants, bakeries, cafes and other hidden gems around Greenwich, including the street food vendors in the popular Greenwich market and chain restaurants like Jamie’s Italian, Sticks’n’Sushi and Prezzo. Clothing and homeware boutiques abound, supermarkets including a small M&S and larger Waitrose in the centre close to the Cutty Sark which has free parking for 2 hours if you buy more than £5 of produce.
Museums and attractions like the large park, Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum and proximity to the O2 (in more industrial North Greenwich) mean that there’s lots of things to explore at weekends without heading into central London.
Greenwich has a train station and DLR which makes it easy to access East London areas including Canary Wharf as well as main stations like Cannon Street and Dartford.
Crystal Palace is a hilly residential area with some great views over London. It’s got acres of green space thanks to the park as well as plenty of local independent eateries and bars. The place to be is the ‘Crystal Triangle’ between Westow Street, Church Road and Westow Hill where most of the gastropubs, vintage shops and cafes are.
Rent and house prices are comparatively low compared to other popular areas of London (at the start of 2015, rental prices in Crystal Palace were over 40% cheaper than the London average).
There are several choices of state primary schools and academies in the area, including the popular Rockmount Primary, however the catchment areas vary for each school so it’s advised you speak with the local borough council and individual schools about their policies.
There is no tube at Crystal Palace, but there are several train stations in the area that will take you directly into the city. There’s also several bus connection services.
Hampstead has always been a popular area for families in London. It’s at the more expensive side of the market but for those that can afford it, Hampsteads grand brick houses and wide tree lined streets are the ideal location for a family.
As well as being one of the most attractive areas in London, Hampstead is of course the home of the famous Hampstead Heath where you’ll find acres of fields, hills with amazing views of London, natural swimming ponds that provide a refreshing oasis for wild swimming (which get very busy in Summer, for good reason!) and wooded walks.
There are plenty of boutiques, cafes and restaurants around Hampstead as well as a choice of good private schools and state schools. Keep in mind the state schools will potentially be oversubscribed so the earlier you can register, the better.
West Hampstead is serviced by the Overground and the Jubilee Tube service as well as bus services and South Hampstead by the Overground (it’s around a 20 minute walk between both or 11 minute tube ride).
Richmond many of the same charms as Hampstead and it’s hard not to fall in love with both areas! One of its most winning features is Richmond Park which provide meadows and grasslands for the wild stags and deer that roam the grounds. Paths lead all over the park through fields and woodland, so it’s great for long walks with the family dog!
The views from high on the hills close to the park, over the woods and River Thames are probably the most iconic countryside views you’ll find anywhere in London. The Thames sparkles as it curves its way through the broccoli headed trees in countryside below, accompanied by a long riverside walking path. Many families sit on this hill to eat a picnic in summer, enjoying the views and soaking up the sun.
Richmond’s large flats and houses remain very much in-keeping with the area. Grade II listed buildings have been turned into Luxury apartments to make the most of the views without spoiling the characteristic architecture and many original houses are now divided into smaller apartments, however, there are still plenty of large properties occupied by wealthy families.
The town of Richmond has plenty of supermarkets, boutiques, chain and independent stores so there’s no need to travel far to do your shopping.
Richmond is in west London and is a little further from central London commute wise. It’s serviced by the Overground and District Tube as well as bus services.
Bexley Village is at the heart of the ancient parish of Bexley. The village itself has kept a distinctly village feel, but with the benefit of easy access into central London (30 minutes by train). This former mainly farming community was, before the WWII, absorbed as one of London’s furthest towns, bordering the county of Kent.
Homes are more affordable here than in more affluent areas like Richmond and Hampstead or boroughs closer to central London, and this has made the area extremely popular with families who tend to buy and stay in the area for many years.
There are over 1500 acres of parkland and open space in the borough of Bexley, with many annual summer events being held in Danson Park in Bexleyheath. There are also several historic attractions in the borough including Hall Place and Lenses Abbey, built in the 12th century.
There are several very good and extremely popular state primary and secondary schools in the borough, as well as private secular and religious affiliated, full board and boys only choices.
Bexley is located at the end of the metropolitan line, 13 miles east-southeast of Charing Cross.
Stoke Newington (affectionately called “Stokey” by the locals) has a great community atmosphere. It has a bustling high street with plenty of independent cafes and restaurants – mostly located on Church Street – and it’s close to some of the coolest areas in east London (Hackney is its home borough) so has the best of both east and west London’s vibes. There’s a farmers market on the main high street every Saturday morning – the perfect place to pick up fresh local produce for the week.
The area is culturally rich, with Turkish, Asian, Caribbean and Jewish communities reflected in the diversity and vibrant flair of the area. There are pubs and a few bars but the late nightlife and club scene in Stokey is quiet – it’s not a popular place for partying which is a bonus for families. As the area has become so desirable, average house prices are rising and homes sell very quickly so it’s important to speak to local property experts if you’re thinking of buying or renting in this area.
Schools in the area have good to outstanding rated Ofsted reports and there are also several nurseries for infants and younger children.
Transport wise, there are no Tube stations in Stoke Newington but there are Overground rail connections and frequent bus services connecting to central London.
If you’re looking for property in London for your family, searching for the right home can be a daunting task especially if you’re working at the same time, but don’t worry, you don’t have to go it alone. Snapdup’s property experts can help you find the perfect place in London for you and your family, saving you precious time and providing the advice you need.
We’ve hoped you found this guide useful, however, if you’re looking for a more in depth guide to schools in each area we advise you to check the Ofsted reports for the individual schools in areas that you’re looking to move. Remember that guaranteed places at state schools can not be confirmed until you are a current resident of the borough. If you want to find out more about the application process, see here.