South vs. North London – Which One to Pick?

Living in London could be among the most exciting things that happen to you. The English capital is the living and breathing centre of the nation and the place where culture, history, society and economy are at their highest level. However, London is also a huge city. Divided into 33 distinct areas that are called boroughs, this megalopolis is home to millions of people and has countless districts and neighbourhoods that are so different that it becomes quite confusing when it comes the time to choose between them.

Even though the final decision will be determined by factors related to your personal life, such as your preferences, chosen career path, budget and licensed domestic removal services in London and many more, there are local peculiarities to the different areas of the city that also need to be taken into consideration. We are going to take a look at the halves of the English capital which are officially being recognised – South London and North London.

Pictured: The River Thames divides London into South and North

About London and its history

London is the largest city in the United Kingdom and one of the largest cities in the world. According to the latest statistics, the population of the capital exceeds 8 million and it is increasing every year. In addition to being a major administrative and financial centre, London is a tourist attraction of a huge magnitude thanks to its long and interesting history. Tens of millions of people come here on an annual basis to marvel at historic and cultural monuments accumulated during the two millennia since the foundation of London. Top tourist attractions include but are not limited to:

  • The British Museum
  • Kew Gardens
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Buckingham Palace
  • The London Eye

As for natural landmarks, London has quite a quite few of those two. The River Thames is hands down the best known among those. The river runs through the whole territory of the metropolis, from West to East and divides the capital into two distinct parts – North London and South London, depending on which bank of the river the boroughs in question are. Those two sections are similar, but also have their distinct characteristics. You will find people saying that the North is the better bet when looking for a nice place to live, but there are many fans to the South as well. At the end of the day, the choice is yours and yours alone.

Table: South and North London, administrative division

South London Boroughs
Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Southwark, Sutton and Wandsworth
North London Boroughs
Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Enfield, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Richmond, Havering, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, and Westminster and City of London

North of the Thames

North London is traditionally considered to be the better-developed half of the capital. The reasons for this are mainly historical in character. The oldest parts of London, including the City and Westminster, are part of North London. So are the first suburbs in the full sense of the word, probably in history. North London is the place where the railway system was originally developed and the initial Tube stations opened. So many people are going to tell you that transport and infrastructure on the northern banks of the River Thames are better. North London contains some of the most affluent (and desirable) neighbourhoods in the capital today. It is noteworthy that crime rates in certain areas are among the lowest for the capital (though the same argument can be made for South London as well).

Pictured: Pond Square in Highgate, North London

When considering whether or not to settle down in North London, you should note that some of the finest schools and colleges in the capital are here as well. To name just a few examples: North London Grammar School, The King Alfred School and Highgate School are all within the premises of the area we are talking about. Since we have been naming names, we should also say which are the most desirable residential areas in the North London area, according to residents of the capital itself:

  • Camden
  • Hampstead
  • Highgate
  • Finsbury Park
  • Church End
  • Muswell Hill

South of the Thames

When dealing with South London, one should mainly deal with the many myths surrounding this half of the capital city. Things that are thought to be common knowledge but in reality are just factoids with no merit at the present time include high crime rates, rural character, bad transport links and lack of employment. While the majority of those things used to be true to a certain extent, this was mostly for the time up until the beginning of the 20th century. Today, South London is mostly an urbanised, safe area with a booming economy. Suffice to say that London Heathrow International Airport is located within its premises. The biggest transport hub in England and the world is responsible for a considerable portion of the overall GDP of London.

Pictured: The Old Town Hall in Croydon, South London

Still, if you are looking for peace and quiet but would rather remain a citizen of London, the southern regions might offer you better alternatives. There are districts that were in fact villages in the vicinity of the capital before the urban expansion in the late 20th century which still remain quite picturesque and unharmed by the exponential growth of London. We would like to particularly recommend looking for such places in the borough of Croydon, in areas as Sanderstead or Kenley, because you will have easy access from there to big employment, administrative and shopping centres in South London like the town of Croydon itself.

If you insist on a final verdict – which one is better, South London or North London, the truth is that there is no one who could possibly give you a definitive answer. Both areas have their advantages and upsides that can attract you and downsides and drawbacks which can push you away – so you should decide for yourself, especially if you plan to move to the English capital. It might not be the answer you have been looking for, but it is the closest to the truth you can get.