Areas of London
From Reddit London wiki
London can vary greatly from borough to borough and postcode to postcode, choosing where to live will make a major impact on your London experience.
Typical constraints will be your budget, route to work, schools if you have children and what sort of experience you are looking for in London.
This link is a very useful (but very general) guide to the different areas on London (the highlighted borough map seems to be wrong until you get to postcode level).
 The Big 4
The four cardinal points of London each have their own distinct personalities, although like London as a whole, none of them wholly conform to these stereotypes.
 North London
The north is perceived as slightly more affluent than other parts, with upmarket people and venues leading to the ironic phrase "It's grim up North London".
Generally starting north of Euston road and Kings Cross, North London is a mix of wealthy areas such as Hampstead and Highgate, and those less affluent such as Holloway and Edmonton
 East London
Criticised by some for being full of Shoreditch hipsters and Nathan Barley characters, but also home to what some might call the 'real' London. It is often mentioned when people describe a "true London night out". Many great bars, clubs and concerts are found in East London.
 South London
Sometimes stereotyped as rougher than the rest of London. In truth while there are bad areas and estates, there aren't more numerous than its northern counterpart. There are also plenty of green and pleasant suburban areas. Also, generally cheaper to live in.
 West London
Probably the richest part and often more suburban when compared to other parts of the city. Calm and quiet (whether or not that's a good thing).
 A word on travel zones
London is divided into a number of Zones, organised into a series of concentric circles emanating out from the centre.
Zone 1 covers the very centre of town is home to the majority of significant tourist sites and familiar landmarks. It stretches from Notting Hill in the West to Aldgate East in the East and from Vauxhall/Elephant & Castle in the South to Kings Cross/Euston in the North.
Zones 2-6 stretch out way into the suburbs which make up greater London. As a general rule, tourists will almost never need to venture outside Zone 2 unless visiting a specific destination. When moving to London, many people prefer to live in Zones 1-3, but housing prices are obviously skewed accordingly. Zone 1 is a very expensive place to live.
The main impact of zones when travelling to London is the price of transport. Zones are used to calculate the fare that you are charged when making a journey between stations on the tube, by overground or by bus. Journeys within Zone 1 are assumed to be the shortest, for example, while a journey from Zone 3 to Zone 1 will be more expensive.
When buying a travelcard, you should make sure that the areas you want to visit are covered. For most visitors, a Zone 1&2 travelcard should suffice, as this will allow unlimited travel within Zones 1&2. Remember that if you're making a single journey out of central London, it may be cheaper to buy a separate ticket for this voyage instead of opting for a more expensive travelcard that covers all zones.
When travelling between stations always double-check the zone that your destination is in. Some stations are on the 'border' between two zones. In this instance, they always count as whichever Zone would make for the shorter journey. For example, a journey from Victoria (Zone 1) to Vauxhall (Zone 1/2) is treated as journey within Zone 1 only.
 Specific Areas & Boroughs
Angel is an affluent area just to the north of the city centre. It is primarily residential but has a distinctive and thriving 'high street', with Upper Street as the focal point with a big selection pubs, bars, restaurants and retail stretching all the way from Angel Underground at the bottom, to Highbury & Islington Underground at the top. There is a small market on Camden Passage and a bigger one on Chapel Street. The N1 shopping centre is decidedly corporate with the usual H&M and Wagamama, but does feature a multi screen cinema and live music venue, o2 Academy Islington. There are both Sainsbury's and Waitrose supermarkets. Angel tube is Zone 1 and on the Northern Line; Upper Street and City Road bus stops give excellent 24 bus connections to the rest of the city centre. Accomodation is expensive.
 Belsize Park
Belsize Park is a stereotypically posh North London neighbourhood. It isn't exclusively populated by very rich people, but it can feel like that at times. Accommodation is expensive, but reasonable rates can be gound if you're prepared to negotiate and take your time.
Generally speaking, it's a quiet neighbourhood. Nightlife is limited, but it's very easy to get to Camden (15 minutes walk down the hill) or other parts of town. Belsize Park is on the Northern Line (Edgware Branch). Buses are good. There's also an overground station (Hampstead Heath) with trains running East and West. Hampstead is just up the hill and does a good impression of a small, albeit massively expensive, village.
The area is home to several decent pubs. Worthy of a mention are the Stag on Fleet Road, the Washington on England's Lane and the White Horse on South End Green. Belsize Park also provides excellent access to Hampstead Heath which is brilliant for walks, picnics and casual sexual encounters (allegedly).
If you have the budget, or can find somewhere affordable, Belsize Park is a lovely, relaxing and peaceful place to live. It can, however, feel a bit false. Definitely more of a family place.
Known now primarily for its alternative scene, Camden historically was an industrial area important for the development of railways leading north out of Kings Cross and St Pancras. The Camden Market runs through the week on a limited basis, and at full capacity on the weekend; sprawling over a large area above and below ground, and along the canal, this can easily provide an afternoons happy wandering. Wares sold here are a mixture of goods depending on what section of the market you visit there are arts, crafts, and second hand books in the Camden Lock Market; goth clothes and accessories, and touristy tat is sold in the street market; a small amount of fruit and veg on the Inverness street market; and some particularly dodgy street food at various stalls throughout the area. Eat there at your peril. Camden is famous for its nightlife, and has hordes of people (mainly teenagers) descend on its various clubs and pubs. There's a good range in the area, from live music and clubbing, to good food and nice pubs.
Do not try to buy cannabis (or indeed, anything) here. You will get ripped off.
Transport-wise it is good with the Jubilee and Bakerloo lines, overground, etc. Pretty young area, a few nice pubs etc. but also quite a few council blocks. Rent is pretty reasonable. It's got everything: two tube lines, two train lines, loads of buses. Also, it's fairly central, I walked once to Oxford St in ~40m. You have Camden, Queens Park, Portobello, Little Venice, Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath and a lot of other London hotspots within a 30m walk; I love that: no need of public transport to move around. You've got Gospel Oak swimming pool (one of the few open-air pools in London) at 10m on the train to make the most of those scarce hot summer days. Plus, it's not expensive and you've got loads of shops, restaurants (looove the Little Bay) and really good pubs, from typically local ones (The Cock Tavern, Coopers Arms, The Old Bell, The Golden Egg: Pints @ 1.99GBP and double shots @ 2.60GBP ; huge screen to watch footie matches, gets packed) to trendy ones (The Westbury, The Betsy Smith, The Black Lion, The Good Ship, North London Tavern). Source
Great transport links (bus, trains - everywhere, tube @ Clapham Common and South or 10 min bus to Vauxhall), super pubs (especially around Battersea Park) and good resturaunts, loads of quirky shops and artisans, plenty of greenspace and still quite a good sense of a local community. (My last two neighbours had both been local for about 20+ years.) It's worth noting there is so much more to Battersea than just Clapham Junction and Northcote Rd, and although handy and being a bit Nappy Valley, is still pretty interesting and lively. It's definitely not as edgy or as exciting as bits of North London but it's green and pleasant, fairly safe and easy to get about whilst still being really quite central. Source
 Elephant & Castle
Not as bad as its reputation suggests - it actually has a kind of tough 'warmth' to it. When I've been to slightly less salubrious parts of East London I've felt slightly more at risk than I do in E&C. That said, I don't go out there to eat or drink. On the other hand it hosts a few notable club/music venues (The Coronet, Ministry of Sound, Corsica Studios). There's a half-decent pub opposite the Imperial War Museum called the Three Stags and there are some great pubs up in Borough (The Glad is an awesome tiny music pub with real ales, The George is ancient and just up the road from there). It's right by the Old Kent Road which has massive Tesco/Asda/etc and in transport terms you're totally sorted, two tube lines and a million buses. If you don't mind the eyesore of the subways and the shopping centre, give it a go.
 Holloway/Tufnell Park
Like most areas of London, the area surrounding Holloway Road is a mixture of more affluent and poorer neighbourhoods. As a rule, the area closer to the A1 (Holloway Road itself) are busier, with plenty of takeaways, shops, pubs and cafes.
Loosely speaking, the area runs from Highbury & Islington station (Overground/Victoria) in the South to Archway Station (Northern) in the North. To the West is Camden and Kentish Town. The mysterious expanses of Dalston and Finsbury Park make up the Eastern border. Holloway Road itself is busy and congested, but well-served by bus-routes. In addition to the stations mentioned above, Holloway Road tube station provides access to the Piccadilly line and Upper Holloway Overground station (about twenty five minutes walk or ten minutes by bus) has trains to Barking and Richmond, but note that for all westbound journeys you need to change at Gospel Oak. This is one stop away and is a huge pain the arse if you're in a hurry.
Holloway Road itself is home to a decent range of shops. There's a large Morrisons and an equally large Waitrose within about five minutes walk from Holloway Road Station. The usual highstreet shops (Argos, Game, etc.) are also easy to find. There's a lot of pound/value shops - particularly around the junction with Seven Sisters Road. This is also home to the Nags Head centre and market, which may be a good place to do some more traditional-style shopping.
Drinking: plenty of bars and pubs can be found on the road itself, some more salubrious than others. The Coronet is the local Wetherspoons and is located in a converted cinema. It is strangely soulless. There's a pretty decent Rock/Metal bar called Big Red on the corner of Parkhurst Road. Venturing off the main drag is worthwhile, as there are plenty of nicer pubs in the surrounding residential areas - inlcuding several Gastropubs. Recommendations would be the Tufnell Park Tavern on Tufnell Park Road and the Landseer (Landseer Road). All in all, a nice mixture and fairly representative of London as a whole, although perhaps leaning more towards the poshness of North London. Source
Located in West London (Zone 3 at the end of the Central Line), Ealing offers a residential setting in a fairly quiet area. Great transport links via Picadilly, District and Central line which are all within walking distance. It also has great connection to Heathrow Airport via the Heathrow Connect at Ealing Broadway station. Getting to central London takes around 20-30 minutes if you use the Central Line; a bit longer when using the District Line. You can catch an overground train to Paddington that takes you there in about 10 mins.
Ealing also offers a good selection of pubs and restaurants if you want to party locally. Although it's worth noting that the area doesn't feel 'central' and can't even begin to compete with Zone 1. However, if you want to have a few pints with friends and enjoy a relaxing night, you are golden. The North Star is arguably the best pub in Ealing, good drinks, good food. There's also a decently sized shopping center that includes Tesco and M&S as well as many shopping fronts (Next, New Look, Primark, TK Maxx...).
Ealing is also surrounded by several parks that are great for all your outdoor needs. Overall, the neighbourhood is quiet and tidy; ideal for some, a snorefest for others.
Fulham lies next to Chelsea in Zone 2, and is a fairly residential borough. Being next to Chelsea it can be very expensive and is the home to the Sloane Ranger. The borough is populated by a large number of public school children with shooting estates in the country. Its proximity to the nearby Imperial College means that it has some students although they tend to be well off. It also has a high proportion of Antipodean residents. There are several fairly large supermarkets in the area (Waitrose and Sainsbury's being the largest), while there are more than a few small Tescos dotted about the borough to keep you topped up as well.
North End Road, heading up into West Kensington, is not as 'nice' as the rest of the borough due to anumber of council estates in the area. It is quite a safe area in general, however. There are a host of yummy mummy cafes in Fulham and Parsons Green.
The population consists largely of students and young professionals working in the city.
All the standard chains are present in Fulham, from McDonald's to Wagamama and Nando's. Pubs are also readily accessible; the White Horse just off Parsons Green is especially popular (known locally as the Sloaney Pony). Other dining options are not as good as central London, but there is certainly enough to keep you satisfied on an average day. More upscale restaurants can be found nearby in King's Road (Chutney Mary's, for example). There is a Michelin starred pub, the Harwood Arms and a wealth of Michelin restaurants in Chelsea, Kensington and Knightsbridge all on the doorstep.
Property prices are very expensive (the borough has the the third highest prices after K&C and Westminster). Rent tends to move in a U-curve moving from Central London towards the west, with high prices on the border of Chelsea decreasing as you move towards North End Road, and then picking up again as you head towards Parsons Green, Hurlingham Rugby Club and Munster Village.
Fulham is home to Chelsea FC and Fulham FC. There are several parks and the river Thames forms the South border, at which location is the start of the Oxford versus Cambridge boat race. The Queens tennis club is on the outskirts of Fulham.
Fulham is only on the District line, and while trains run every 4-6 minutes in the rush hour, expect to wait up to ten minutes for a train when travelling off-peak. Bus routes are good, however. From the central Fulham Broadway bustop, there are direct buses to Piccadilly Circus, Waterloo, Richmond and Notting Hill. South Kensington and surrounding areas are served every 2 or 3 minutes by both the 14 and 414.
Hammersmith, which is on the Thames in Zone 2, West London is a great place for a new arrival to set up camp in London.
It has fantastic transport links with the Picadilly, District, Hammersmith and City and Circle tube lines all running through it, and the Central line not being far away in Shepherds Bush. It also has a major bus station with buses going all over West and Central London. The Picadilly line also directly serves Heathrow Airport.
Surrounding areas include Putney, Fulham, Chiswick, Earls Court, Shepherds Bush and West Kensington which all, along with Hammersmith have great amenities, night life and are considered relatively safe to go out in compared to many areas on London. Westfield Shopping Centre (one of the biggest in London) is close for shopping, there are a few parks around for greenery, with Hyde Park 10-15 mins away by bus.
There are multiple good pubs around for the evenings and if you want to go out central the area is very well connected with night buses to get you home again. It also has some good restaurants - Indian Zing is my favourite for Indian food, Azou was elected 'Best North African Restaurant' in 2010 by Gordan Ramsey - although I've yet to go there myself.
Property priced in Hammersmith are expensive, especially close to the Thames and Tube. But it's generally cheaper than the surrounding areas (Chiswick, Kensington, Fulham, Putney). If you're looking to save some money but be close then I'd recommend looking towards Shepherds Bush.
Putney is a very quiet and leafy suburb. It's not particularly young, cool or hip, but it does have plenty going for it by way of being a nice place to live.
Transport links are ok, but not great. The vast majority of commuters make use of the overground, which has regular (~12tph), fast (10-20 min) trains to Clapham Junction, Vauxhall and London Waterloo. Putney does have a tube station, but it's on the District Line which means it takes ages to get to anywhere. Making the short hop to Earls Court and changing to the Piccadilly line is viable if you're trying to get into the centre of town, or trying to get home after the trains stop running. In general when going into the centre of the city it is very often faster to take the overground and change at Vauxhall for the (fast) Victoria line or Waterloo for several other lines. Buses are also ok, but will usually take a long time to get anywhere. Be especially careful on busses to Hammersmith (220 etc) at the end of the day as after 7pm the bus lane on Ful;ham Palace Road stops being enforced and bus speeds slow massively. Putney is on the edge of Zone 2, which is nice for Travelcard purposes.
For shopping, the high street and small shopping centre have everything you need, but are mostly very bland. For food and drink, there are plenty of places in the town centre. Usual highstreet restaurants/bars and many of the pubs do (upmarketish) food. Things get pricier as you approach the river. Nicer restaurants include the Popeseye Steak House, which serves some of the best steaks in London alongside some excellent red wines. Found on Upper Richmond Road, which also has japanese, thai, indian, spanish, and italian restuarants. The Telegraph, on the edge of Putney Heath, is a nice 'country' pub, while the real ale specialist Bricklayers Arms is a regular CAMRA award winner.
Putney's main advantage is how generally nice it is. The River Thames curves through it and makes an excellent place to go for walks or runs. Just across the river is the old Bishop's Palace, which is an interesting and peaceful place to spend a few hours. The green spaces of Putney Heath, Wimbledon Common, Putney Common and even Richmond Park are all within striking distance. All are lovely.
Vauxhall is still probably one of the cheapest places to live in Zone 1 south of the river, largely due to the fact that it has historically had a poor reputation. That reputation is now largely underserved.
Transport links around London don't get much better than this. Vauxhall has overland trains running from Waterloo through to Clapham Junction, the Victoria line and also a large bus station. Oval tube station is also a ten minute walk away, which is on the Northern line. It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk to Trafalgar Square from Vauxhall Cross (where the bus/train/tube is), and 10 minutes on a bike. It is also the current most south-westerly edge of the London Cycle Hire network, though it can be difficult to find a free space in the racks at busy times.
For food around Vauxhall you might choose the excellent Canton, the newly opened Black Dog for modern British, Hot Stuff for Kenyan Indian, Amici for Italian (this is really Kennington, which is only a short walk away and has plenty of other good pubs/restaurants), the Brunswick House Cafe for coffee or lunch. For vegetarians there is the co-op run Bonnington Cafe. There are many Portuguese restaurants run by members of the large local Madeiran community nearby. Estrela on South Lambeth Road is the most well known.
Drinking and other nightlife is largely dominated by the huge local gay community. There are many gay nightclubs and bars. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is often excellent for Cabaret and Comedy. Some nights there are clearly mixed-friendly, some are not. There are non gay specific clubs too, for example Roller Disco is nearby Roller Disco.
Pubs wise, The Vauxhall Griffin The Vauxhall Griffin has a really good mixed bohemian feel, The Fentiman Arms has a nice garden and good but overpriced food, the Dog House at Kennington is scruffy but good fun, the Oval Lounge has nice cocktails and is great for breakfasts and coffee, and the Canton Arms again is friendly.
Wimbledon includes various areas with varied characters:
Centrally, the Broadway hosts most of the transport links: regular fast trains to Clapham Junction/Vauxhall/Waterloo, plus the district line to Earls Court, trams to Croydon and plenty of buses. The area is the commercial centre and has your usual range of shopping and nightlife.
To the north, Wimbledon village borders the Common - a massive, marvellous green space - and is largely somewhat "upmarket" (and pricey), both in terms of accomodation and the character of shops, restuarants etc.
The famous tennis club borders Wimbledon Park (different from the common; also lovely). Property is very expensive near the park, but a large residential area blending into Southfields and Earlsfield towards the north and east is a fairly nice-safe-quiet-affordable place to live. It's quite a walk over the hill to the Broadway, but you still have the (pokey) district line and Earlsfield station is walkable.
To the south, past the theatre to South Wimbledon tube (Northern line) and environs, it gets mostly residential.
Wimbledon, along with neighbouring Southfields, is noted for a high Aussie/South African population.