Flat Rates

A few months ago, Henri sent me some wonderful pictures of her wedding – you can enjoy one or two of them on my weddings and events section. But now she writes with the classic problem that tends to follow weddings around. She writes:

“The husband and I are looking to leave New Cross when our lease runs out at the end of September, and we really, really want to re-relocate to Greenwich. It’s handy for me, being able to roll out of bed and nip off to uni, and a convenient push-off point for him to travel to wherever he may be working then. The problem is we’re having a hard time identifying areas of Greenwich (town or borough) where we can find a reasonable compromise of size, cost, and safety.

We’re looking for something with 1 or 2 bedrooms, house or flat, for under £900 a month, and not down some dark, seedy alley miles away from any transport. Or Police. Do you have any advice? Inside info?

We don’t mind something a bit shabby, if it means we get a few extra feet for our money (I much prefer a nice high Victorian ceiling over sunken lights in my bathtub and an oven that speaks to me) but we’d rather not live on the 16th floor of a scary council estate either. Know any areas we should be looking at?

Plumstead seems to have a nice range of shabby but affordable and slightly more spacious housing (although it’s a bit close to the in-laws in Abbey Wood to be my pick of the Greenwich area) but apart from that and….Thamesmead *shudder* we’re having trouble finding anywhere that isn’t full of ‘state of the art’ and ‘luxury’, which seems to be code for ‘shoebox with spotlights’.”

The Phantom sympathises. However swish the new housing may be round here it tends to be a) tiny and b) stupidly expensive. I’ve never been able to work out why they call some of it “affordable” – I can’t imagine many people on lower incomes actually being able to manage even the small part that they are expected to stump up at those prices. Following your code for ‘Luxury’ as equalling “shoebox with spotlights” I’d say “affordable” translates as “shoebox without spotlights hidden behind the bins…”

I have to put my hands up here – I don’t really keep much of an eye on prices. I am sure that people here have a better idea than me but hey – it’s my blog, so I’m going to have my two-penn’orth…

To be honest I suspect that Greenwich Central may be a bit scary for that sort of money (though it’s always worth just checking – you never know what you may be able to find and with this credit-crunch thing going on you may find a landlord who would rather do a good price than be forced to sell up.) East Greenwich is worth a look – and ideally situated for amenities – the tube, train and sundry shops – but even that seems to be getting a bit pricey these days.

Since your husband (does he actually have a name???) has to commute, you need to be nearish the railway – though of course there are two good lines – the one that goes through Blackheath and the one that goes via Maze Hill.

I’m a big fan of Charlton. It’s on both railway lines, which means you get a better selection of trains, and it has some great housing stock. You’ll have to pick your area for safety purposes – but I think it’s an underrated area. Sadly I’m not alone, and prices have been creeping up recently.

Ditto Woolwich. That’s going to explode in the next few years – if I were buying, I’d be tempted to look there – it’s got good transport links (soon to be fantastic) a shopping centre that may look tatty but has a solid, provincial feel, and it’s a short distance to some excellent open spaces. Oh – and it has a very good Chinese restaurant.

If you want to get lots for your money, Plumstead isn’t a bad choice at all – though tradition seems to dictate that you may to be more careful to find a safe area. I don’t know too much about most of Plumstead to tell the truth – but I have friends who live there and none of them has been mugged in over 18 years. And it has the bonus of being on the railway and near to countryside. Some bits, especially around the common, are really rather grand.

Which brings me onto Shooters Hill. A little bit more out of the way, but still pretty nice, and close to lots of countryside and open air. I understand the Highwayman problem has abated in the last hundred years.

As we were talking a few days ago the Royal Herbert development is really rather cool. Don’t bother trying to get the ex-water tower though – I think last time it was up they wanted a million for it. I have no idea whether they actually got it. I think the bit around it is rather charming, though it feels a bit remote.

Eltham’s a funny one. it goes from the extremely old and posh right through to some truly grotty bits. It’s a little bit out of the way so it may come up cheaper (as long as you’re not after that amazing Tudor place next to the palace…) but I’m really into dodgy territory here – I really don’t know.

One last thing. You shudder at Thamesmead, but I know several people who live there who are fiercely defensive of it. They love the fact that they have modern houses with lots of room and gardens for their kids to play in at prices they could never afford elsewhere.

Last time I was there (I was re-visiting the fabulous Crossness Engines – which if you haven’t ever seen you must asap) they were building some very nice-looking flats on the river. I can’t imagine they will be as pricey as anywhere upstream. I wouldn’t count on the mythical “Waterfront Transit System” (read “bus”) coming into service any time soon though.

I’ve yabbered on enough. Time to hand over to people who may actually have some answers to your questions…

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