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With rising living costs, where in London isn’t pricey these days? Words by Clare Vooght.

Rents in London have reached a record high – and they’re increasing faster than you can say “find me a place to live”. But before you up sticks and move to a farm in the country, check out these areas that have something to offer for a bit less.

Camberwell, SE5

An arty hub in south London, with plenty of rooms in converted Edwardian and Victorian buildings on offer. Camberwell is a big hit with students thanks to its young, creative vibe, independent pubs and community feel.
BEST HANGOUT: At the South London Gallery (southlondongallery.org), you’ll find modern art created by both British and international names. The cafe also sells some deliciously hearty soups.
RAIL: Denmark Hill overground; Zone 2
TIME TO CENTRAL LONDON: 30 minutes
AVERAGE FLATSHARE: £500pcm

Elephant & Castle, SE1, SE11, SE17

OK, so there isn’t that much to do in the immediate area (it’s mainly residential) but Elephant & Castle rents are dirt cheap for Zone 1. Compared to surrounding areas such as Kennington and Oval, costs are about £50 a week less for the same quality of flat. Once here, you’re only a 15-minute walk away from attractions including the Imperial War Museum and the Old Vic Theatre. There’s also a shopping centre and a few eateries dotted around, but you’re not here for the nightlife, you’re here because it’s cheap.
BEST HANGOUT: The Charlie Chaplin pub in New Kent Road, with its outdoor patio, where they screen all major sporting events.
TUBE: Elephant & Castle, Northern and Bakerloo lines; Zone 1
TIME TO CENTRAL LONDON: 10 minutes
AVERAGE FLATSHARE: £570pcm

Walthamstow, E17

The top end of the Victoria line seems like a long way away, but it’s actually pretty easy to get to central London. With a strong town-centre feel and Europe’s longest outdoor street market, you won’t need to venture to Zone 1 on the weekends if you don’t want to, because everything is here.
Walthamstow

BEST HANGOUT: Named in homage to the postcode, Eat 17 bar and restaurant serves ethically sourced British food and tasty ales.
TUBE: Walthamstow Central overground, Victoria line; Zone 3
TIME TO CENTRAL LONDON: 25 minutes
AVERAGE FLATSHARE: £400pcm

Earlsfield, SW17, SW18

An often forgotten south-west London suburb surrounded by Tooting, Battersea, Balham and Clapham. Chains are scarce – you’ll find boutiques and independent restaurants. The many Victorian terraced houses make good quality rental properties.
BEST HANGOUT: The hottest new addition to the area is steak and wine joint, Fyre (fyresteak.co.uk).
RAIL: Earlsfield; Zone 3
TIME TO CENTRAL LONDON: 30 minutes
AVERAGE FLATSHARE: £550pcm

New Cross, SE14

Thanks to its reputation as a dive, plus its lack of a Tube, New Cross is super-cheap. But if you don’t mind a bit of scuzz, it’s actually got plenty going on thanks to its student population – the area is home to Goldsmiths University, where Britpop legends Blur formed. Your money will go much further in the arty bars and you’ll also satisfy cravings for jerk chicken as there are plenty of top-notch Caribbean eateries.
BEST HANGOUT: Meateasy in New Cross Road, a hip burger joint that opened up earlier this year.
RAIL: New Cross; Zone 2
TIME TO CENTRAL LONDON: 30 minutes
AVERAGE FLATSHARE: £430pcm

Poplar, E14

Close to east London’s bars and markets but far enough away to be out of the city, Poplar may be less fashionable than some suburbs, but it’s certainly cheaper. It’s a quiet, residential area right near the Thames.
BEST HANGOUT: Dishing up a not-so-filthy version of the Great British pie, The Counter Cafe (thecountercafe.co.uk) uses top quality ingredients to create their handmade offerings. Well worth a visit.
RAIL: Poplar, DLR; Zone 2
TIME TO CENTRAL LONDON: 25 minutes
AVERAGE FLATSHARE: £500pcm

Where to pay less tax:

Council tax can be a huge drain on your budget, so think about that when you pick an area. The cheapest average rates* per year are:

1. Wandsworth, £663
2. Westminster, £776
3. Newham, £959
4. City of London, £961
5. Southwark, £991
6. Barking, £1,011
7. Hackney, £1,015

*from government figures released in march 2011

Up your chances at finding a bargain:

Judy Niner

Judy Niner, who founded rental website MondaytoFriday.com proves there are still bargains to be found, with her top tips for scouting out rental bargains.

- You can usually save money by renting directly from the landlord rather than going through an agent.

- If you are renting a smaller room in a flatshare, make sure you negotiate a lower rate.

- If your property has a garden and the landlord pays a gardener, offer to do it yourself to reduce rent.

- Remember, lots of people who rent have a limited knowledge of London and tend to opt for well-known areas – think East Sheen rather than Richmond for lower rents but all the benefits of living on the edge of the park.

- The best way to find special pockets of housing in unfashionable areas is to take to the streets and walk – you will discover nuggets of property with good facilities and lovely surroundings.

- Often places are cheaper due to a lack of Tube station but usually compensated for with good main line links.

- You may need to be in London during the week but could live somewhere cheaper at weekends. Rent outside London and let your room in the week while you lodge in the city from Monday to Friday.


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Rent on the cheap in London
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