It’s that time of year again when the Sunday Times reveals its ‘Best Place to Live in the UK’ and ‘Best Place to Live in London’. Last year, you might remember, the gongs were respectively given to Ilkley in Yorkshire and Crystal Palace in south London. The year before, it was Stroud in the Cotswolds and Teddington, near London. The latter choice was a bit contentious, with people questioning TW11’s capital credentials. Sure, it’s on the Thames, but is it actually in London?
Anyway, as that debate rages quietly away in the background, the 2023 winners have been announced. This year, the best overall place in the UK is Wadhurst in East Sussex, cited for its ‘rolling hills, glittering night skies and thriving high street’. Meanwhile, the London winner is… Crouch End.
Yep, good ol’ Crouch End is the Best Place to Live in London. The Sunday Times mentions the area’s ‘creative edge and friendly neighbours’, giving ‘this lofty northern enclave social capital in the capital’. But is N8 a worthy winner?
- It’s villagey. This was a big deal in Teddington’s win in 2021. Clearly the Sunday Times regards the ‘village’ as the acme of desirability when it comes to community structures. Still, if Wadhurst is supposedly the best place to live in the whole country, perhaps this shouldn’t be that surprising a criterion. There is no doubt that Crouch End has a well-heeled small-town vibe amid the sprawl of north London.
- It’s got lots of great independent shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants. Off the top of our heads: Flashback Records, The Queens pub, the Church recording studio, The Harringay Arms, The Little Record Shop, Little Mercies cocktail bar, Banner’s restaurant, Dunn’s bakery, Freeman’s butcher, etc etc.
- It’s villagey. It’s perversely remote given how geographically close it is to everywhere, because it has NO TUBE STATION. Residents, of whom we know some, smugly say that they are actively in favour of this. But, like in other remote places, its locals cleave to their separateness, fearing and resisting outside influences. So, it’s not the most diverse place and it’s pretty pricy.
- There’s NO TUBE STATION. Sorry, but…
This is subjective, obviously. Crouch End is a great place to live, probably. Certainly it has a lot going for it, and people who do live/have lived there speak very fondly of it. But, like Lewisham, is a clock tower enough in 2023?
Check out our area guide to Crouch End.
We’re giving away 100 tickets to the Sony World Photography Awards this year.