Six months ago, aged 37, I decided it was time to move out of central London and “settle down.” So, armed with £350,000 in cash  I set about investigating London’s suburbs. Here’s my account of how I came to rest in Wimbledon.

 

After endless lists I determined that there are eight things that really matter to me. A village atmosphere, open space for jogging (and I would love a dog one day), relative peace and quiet at the week-end, short commuting time into Covent Garden where I work, a low crime rate, a very decent local pub and reasonable choice of restuarants nearby because I don’t have a car. Finally, the prospect of better than average long-term capital growth.

 

After consulting friends, maps and Google I produced a short-list of places that seemed in theory to qualify on most of my eight criteria. In alphabetical order they were: Barnes, Clapham, Ealing, Fulham, Hampstead, Highgate, Kew, Notting Hill, Primrose Hill, Putney, Richmond, Wimbledon.

 

Five minutes looking at estate agents’ particulars sadly convinced me that Primrose Hill would be a non-starter on my modest budget.

 

Ealing has the benefit of some excellent restaurants and its Common is a reasonable size but the commute? Well outside of my 45 minute door to door policy. Highgate sufferred a similar fate because although it’s probably the prettiest village and has some gorgeous properties it’s also miles from civilisation.

 

Fulham has access to a number of pleasant parks like Hurlingham, has good underground links into the West End and has more pubs and dining establishments than one could wish for. However, it isn’t exactly peaceful and if you care to look closely there’s more “mixed” housing than you might care for.

 

Clapham was next. All the eating and drinking opportunities that Fulham has to offer with a more green aspect. And with Clapham Junction to Waterloo taking ten minutes and trains every few minutes that seemed a hot prospect. After an exhaustive trawl around Clapham I’m afraid I came away utterly depressed by the dullness of the place and many of its residents who seemed to share one characteristic – an almost compulsive desire to live elsewhere.

 

GCSE geography taught me that in the northern hemisphere the best quality of life is to be found west of the city so I headed out to Barnes and Richmond. Barnes is pretty with some superb riverside pubs but without a car I felt marooned. Surely Richmond, home to Mick Jagger amongst numerous superstars was the answer offerring Richmond Park, the river, a village green, excellent pubs, a good night life and quiet residential streets. And you would be right. Except for one thing – Heathrow. The noise was pretty unbearable with a low-flying overflight every few minutes and presumably if the 3rd runway is approved the problem will deteriorate further. This surely must have an unavoidablly depressing effect upon long-term property values. Damn. On the way back to central London I followed the flight path and  ruled out Kew for the same reason.

 

That left Hampstead, Putney and Wimbledon. 

 

Hampstead is just wonderful and then you start to realise that London is a philosophical divide between the more overt materialsm of the north and the more earthy “culture” of the south. Where did I fit? I’m not yet sure. Putney has much to recommend it but it started to feel like a transit camp for 20 something year olds. If I was into rowing I would consider it highly.  Wimbledon however with its village, 1,000 acre wilderness common, riding stables, running clubs, clean air, boutiques and community neighbourhood just felt right. Well, for the timebeing anywa

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 8:19 am.
Categories: About Wimbledon.

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