London is its own world. Boasting its own set of rules. I lived there for 3 years and time and time again discovered that upon revealing that you call East London home, you’re welcomed with a sympathetic wince." Bit rough isn’t it? Will you make it home alive?" You shrug off ignorance initially. “It's fine” you reply with a courteous smile.
East London’s rejuvenation has been evident. Shoreditch, Dalston and Bethnal Green are the home to young techies and a colourful hipster community. The Olympics have seen Stratford bloom and the Isle of Dogs/Canary Wharf is home to world’s most powerful banks and investment firms.
Of course, there are parts of which you steer clear of but that’s no different to the rough spots of West London and Central. So with a sense of responsibility, I feel it’s my duty to dispel the myth that East London is hell on earth.
When I lived in Leyton, I was blessed with having Stratford’s Westfield Shopping Centre (one of the largest in Europe) on my door step. A day out for many, Westfield ultimately became my corner shop. A corner shop that boasted an entire level of restaurants, two levels of retail and a top floor casino and cinema. Spitalfields Market (E1) has a unique flair and is a must visit for those seeking alternative gear and the odd bargain. It can get a little cosy during peak hours but there’s enough cafés and restaurants to pass the time in. The flea market there occurs every Thursday and I’d advise you to get their as early as possible for the best selection.
Food & Drink
Around the corner from Spitalfields is Brick Lane, where you’ll find some of the very best curry houses in London. Brick Lane works in the same way the strips of Ibiza and Magaluf do. Touters will approach you with a deal and for the most part it's best not take the first offer, but to ask if they can do a better deal than a rival. It’s all part of the fun so don’t take their forward nature in annoyance, instead revel in the choice. There’s enough markets in East London for fresh produce like Broadway Market (E8) but head to Borough Market (SE1) for the best quality and atmosphere.
Of course, East London wouldn’t be East London without the odd alternative venue. So phone in a babysitter and check out Cereal Killer Café (E1), Katzenjammers (SE1), Bar Kick (E1), Boundary Rooftop (E2) and Queen of Hoxton (EC2) for some fantastic venues. Ridley Market Bar (E8) is also booming social with a club Tropicana theme going on. I can’t promise you the weather will match the theme but the drinks are cheap and the ambience is first class.
In a previous life, East London was cut off in the same way I feel parts of South London are currently. Things changed of course once the capital won the 2012 Olympics. Now the transport system in the area effectively takes you to your door step. The Central line, the main artery of London’s underground system, cuts into heart of East London to places like Bethnal Green, Leyton, Stratford and deep into Essex. The DLR transports you to Canning Town, The Excel Arena and London City Airport whilst Whitechapel, Shoreditch and West Ham residents are regulars on the District or Hammersmith & City line. Tubes are 24/7 as of September so no more mind numbing night bus journeys. Rejoice!
Let me start by saying prices aren’t wallowing in the bargain bin. The clue after all is in the name East London. The current average for a semi has increased by £100,000 since 2013 to £507,406 (according to Zoopla) and even though prices are growing, that doesn’t veer away from the fact that there’s value here. Students get away with murder (not literally of course). Monthly student rent in most cases can be as little as 200-400 each per month in places such as Stratford and West Ham. First time buyers will have to dig deep into Zones 4, 5 and 6 but with a keen eye you’ll find a gem in areas such as Plaistow thanks to the new Upton Village. Here, two bedroom flats begin at £150,000 for a 50 percent share and rise to £118,500 for a 3 bedroom apartment with a 30 percent share. Also check out Bromley by Bow, Stratford and Victoria Docks for the odd steal.
You can’t move for schools in London. You can’t move for independent schools either. But independent or not, the only word that bears any importance is the word ‘Outstanding’. Amongst others, Tollgate Primary (E13), Selwyn Primary (E13), Bygrove Primary (E14), Curwen Primary & Nursery (E13) and Queensbridge Primary School (E8) all carry an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ rating and rank in the Top 10% of UK schools on the basis of their pupil’s attainment. For more information on the best schools in the area head over to Locrating.
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