Attention, manbun massive (as The Times recently referred to Time Out readers in a piece about Teddington)! Calling all hipsters (out of retirement, presumably): pack up your bags, darlings, we’re leaving. Hackney, that is.
Word reaches us, as official sponsors of hip-London-beatnik types, that the same broadsheet has now declared the entirety of Hackney dead and buried as a desirable neighbourhood for young creatives in which to get chummy with a rental contract. In the organ’s words: ‘Its days of being grotty, arty, party central are long gone. Hackney’s demise has been much talked about for years…’ Oooohhh. Helpfully, it has found six UK alternatives, two of ’em in London (nb: paywall).
Of course, this leaves us all a bit bereft, since we had only reported recently on the massive urban regeneration in Shoreditch that was going to create hundreds of the kind of independent, flexible small business spaces ideal for us slashies. In fairness, though, The Times’s article points out that massively rising property prices in the borough are a major factor (average house price now £700,000+), so we may have to swallow the bitter reality that Hackney has become too ‘des res’, and thus is hoisted on its own petard.
So where can we lay our hats? Let’s take a look at The Times hotlist.
Forest Gate, east London
Identified as somewhere with a lot of reasonably-priced ( for London) Victorian semis suitable for starting a family. It’s close to Epping Forest and is part of British sporting history with London’s oldest football ground (now owned by non-league Clapton CFC).
Pros: We like it for the delightful Forest Gayte Pride, a grassroots collective that is hosting a big festival on June 25. The newly opened Liz line and the offerings of the Wild Goose Bakery help too.
Cons: It’s been described as a bit stolid and residential and its crime rate is slightly iffy, with violent crime above average.
Deptford, south-east London
Lauded as up-and-coming since about the time of the Armada and in possession of a craft-beer-and-pizza place underneath the old railway arches. ‘What more could a young Londoner want?’ asks The Times. Let’s hope you’re not teetotal and coeliac.
Pros: I’m biased as a long-term resident, but Deptford’s been a creative, slightly eccentric and diverse neighbourhood for decades. It’s got lots of homegrown bars and eateries such as the Buster Mantis/Stockton/Watergate mini-empire, independent galleries such as Castor Gallery and APT, plus the annual Deptford X festival, and is great for new music. Jazz hothouse Steamdown being one example.
Cons: Don’t try to get in or out of the high street by car on a Saturday; the market is on and you’ll never get to leave unless you get towed. You’re also part of the Ulez compliance zone so you better get complying. Also, massive lack of street upon street of Victorian terraces, soz.
Bit of a leftfield one this from The Times, but fair enough. We understand that young professionals are leaving London in droves and the lure of a V&A, albeit one celebrating Scottish design creativity, might help the homesick, and the thriving uni vibes give Dundee some slightly indie, Austin, Texas, cred.
Pros: Well, aside from the obvious, involving delicious fruit cake, The Beano and the coast, Dundee fares well on the nation’s sunshine index, is close to a beach and the Camperdown Wildlife Centre has both ocelots and owls. Job done.
Cons: The Camperdown Wildlife Centre also has a golf course (as does a lot of Scotland). Not great unless you love to habitually sport a Pringle sweater.
The Times’s second Scottish selection has lots to recommend it. It’s traditionally been hugely embracing of the visual arts and literature and ex-Londoners will find the morning commute reassuringly chocka: it’s Scotland’s most populous metropolis.
Pros: It’s getting a reputation for homegrown cutting-edge fashion design; it’s excellent for bars and cafés; the accent is sexy.
Cons: That accent might be sexy but it might be a bit hard to follow, so be careful what you agree to on a night out.
And so to Wales. Billed as a city with ‘surfer cred’, Swansea does have undeniably good beaches.
Pros: This being Wales, music is taken very seriously, with venues ranging from small clubs and bars to very big arenas and stadiums. There are festivals coming out of your – melodically stimulated – ears.
Cons: This being Wales, you’d better gen up on your rugby too. Better still, integrate fully and launch an all-singing, all surfing-rugby-tackling-choir.
Intriguingly, The Times reports that Worthing, Brighton’s genteel spinster sister, has experienced an influx of Londoners looking to relocate from Crystal Palace. Surely no coincidence that the leafy neighbourhood was rated by the paper as the best place to live in London earlier this year?
Pros: It’s by the sea, yay! Plus there’s an Oscar Wilde connection (he wrote ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ there) and some fine Victorian architecture, with lots of pretty – if slightly faded – glamour. Like a hand-tinted botanical illustration left in the sun.
Cons: It’s not London. It’s not Brighton. It’s not you – it’s me.
It seems pretty extreme to relocate to Dundee just cos flats in Hackers are a bit pricy now. What if it’s not all cake, sea air and cartoon characters? And just leave Deptford alone, okay? We’re fine.
Need more reasons to leave the capital? There’s another tube strike planned for June 21.
Need more reasons to stay? Here’s our pick of the best London music festivals.