Choosing your suburb — going with first impressions vs research

Prior to moving, I didn’t really research which suburbs or neighbourhoods I should live in. Originally, I was going to stay for a bit at Fulham as a visa migration agency that I was in contact with had accomodation there. I’m actually pretty glad that I ended up not going anywhere near Fulham and instead settled somewhere central – Barbican, in fact. It was close to the major London landmarks with Museum of London and Shoreditch down the road, everything that I need was at a walking distance, I had a coworking space up the road and the Barbican Center about five minutes away. I met many other young people from different nationalities – such as Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, France, Japan, USA, Lithuania – and some ended up being a good support network.

OK, the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer as I haven’t really looked up and research any suburbs at all. I chose Barbican because of the name of a major arts center and its closeness to the digital and creative industries hub that I already knew resided in Shoreditch. It was not until a couple of months in were I slowly started to ‘get’ what postcodes ‘mean’ to Londoners and international renters, not to mention this whole deal around certain neighbourhoods. I know of Notting Hill, Chelsea…and that’s about it! I met up with a friend from Brisbane living in Pinkham and lamenting how there were so many Aussies around Wimbledon, Earls Court, Fulham and such and that he was glad to separate himself from that and into ‘real London’.

Those about to move abroad will tend to look at items such as the approximate prices to rent at a certain neighbourhood, nearby facilities, transport, closeness to work and so on but I find that actually being on the country and inspecting the properties and suburbs on foot is much better than making a blind guess based on research online.

Barbican and surrounding areas around EC1 isn’t really for me despite some of its perks ‘on paper’. It’s difficult to gauge what the areas are going to be like as it’s not all about the area but what your personally need which may differ to how you go about flatsharing at home. So when the time came to look for a place, I decided to go within walking distance to/from work as the main priority and within a certain price range. The current place that I am in has so much greenery, it was quiet, I can hear the wind through the trees (OK, a bit cheesy, but that sound was always present growing up in a country town so it was homely for me). I didn’t research this area until a few days after moving in but I just wonder how it would have influenced my decision to move if I did my research rather than rely on first impressions?

Another thing about that did not dawn on me until a couple of weeks later was that…it was different in other ways. For example, the prevalence of certain accents and languages being spoken and from what I can gather it was a fair bit of Canadian, American, French. British as well (my neighbours are, I can tell), but even then, my British flatmate was born in UAE to British parents but had an American accent and the lady next door, I swear, was conversing in French. I don’t know if it’s a London thing. I’m still trying to figure it out!

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