Town and Country (part two)

So this is a much delayed second entry in this series – I originally started writing it immediately after I posted the first, but it turned into a bit of a monster because I decided to try and write about way more areas.

As a result, the below is a bit of a mish-mash, having been edited about 4 months after it was originally written. I’ve decided to post a part three in the near future, which should cover the other areas of London I’m considering buying in…

Enfield:

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Enfield is the London borough where I have been brought up and have spent the vast majority of my life. Situated at the very North of the capital it is one of the largest boroughs and varies greatly in character; at one end it’s semi rural with open fields and small hamlets, while other parts are essentially an industrial wasteland. It’s similar in terms of housing stock – at one extreme there are local authority tower blocks and pockets of severe deprivation, and at the other there are mansions which wouldn’t look out of place in Beverly Hills. Enfield was previously part of the county of Middlesex, but in 1965 became part of greater London – as a result, Enfield is sometimes regarded as not being properly part of London by those who live further in, much like other outer London boroughs. The list below is quite long but not means exhaustive – I’ve not bothered to include places too far out, with some subtitles covering wider areas than others.

Bush Hill Park

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Queen Anne’s Parade in BHP – opposite the station

I may as well start in the area which I currently live in, roughly in the centre of the borough and reasonably well served in terms of transport links and shops. A generally affluent area which is popular with families, there aren’t too many affordable properties in Bush Hill Park, with flats tending to be on large, low-rise developments down tree-lined streets. I genuinely like the area, but I can’t help feeling that a change would be good, and while road links are good, the London Overground line can get busy at peak times, is only in Zone 5 and has off-peak trains that are only every 30 minutes in frequency.

Cockfosters/Oakwood

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Sometimes cited as the most amusingly named station on the tube map

Most people know Cockfosters as the Northern terminus of the Piccadilly line, but in fact it is a rather nice area which borders on wide open countryside, offering a wide selection of independent shops and restaurants. Oakwood is close by and similar in theme.The M25 is close as well, at junction 24 but traffic can be very bad on Cockfosters’ high street. Trent Park Country Park is an added attraction, with lots of leisure activities and walks available, and looking nearby you are close to Southgate as well which has more shops. Bad things? Well both are very quiet areas and due to their proximity to the tube lines are expensive compared to other areas of Enfield – most flats are generally closer to £350k, but it is possible to grab the odd bargain – I went to view a flat for £250k which would have been a great buy (despite some work), but it was snapped up before I had chance to make an offer.

Edmonton

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Edmonton Green is more built up than most of Enfield

 

Edmonton is a rather broad term for an area which covers the South Eastern portion of the borough, but I am rolling it all into one for ease of reading. Edmonton is probably the most deprived part of Enfield and has a high rate of crime, although of course this isn’t applicable to all areas.Edmonton Green has a large selection of shops and relatively affordable housing, being in Zone 4 and benefitting from regular train services which are double the frequency of Bush Hill Park. Towards Silver Street property is even more affordable, while the southern part of Edmonton is across the A406 and has easy access to North Middlesex Hospital. However the overall theme of these areas izzzs a high rate of crime, which rules it out for me, while property close to stations isn’t as affordable as you might imagine.

Enfield Chase

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Shops on Windmill Hill – opposite Enfield Chase station

Enfield Chase is an area to the immediate West and North of Enfield Town and is almost entirely residential. Chase Side and The Ridgeway are two major roads through the area, the former featuring restaurants and independent shops, and the latter heading to the M25 and also Chase Farm Hospital. One bedroom flats in the area are becoming more affordable, especially those further away from the Town, and are generally in pleasant developments not requiring much work – prices tend to range from £350-300k. Two train stations on the same line cover this area; Gordon Hill and Enfield Chase – but unfortunately both are in Zone 5 and the travel time into Moorgate is around 35 minutes, while the change to the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington station being simple but time consuming due to the high volume of people. The quietness of the area puts me off somewhat, too.

Enfield Highway

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Proposed developments at Ponders End

Enfield Highway is another loose term that covers part of North East Enfield. Aside from shops running along the High Road, the area is generally residential and among the most affordable, although it does benefit from close proximity to retail parks on the A10 road as well as the industrial estates which run alongside the New River and reservoirs which mark the Eastern edge of the borough. Several stations are located in this area, including Southbury and Turkey Street London Overground stations and Ponders End and Brimsdown rail stations – all services go into Liverpool Street but unfortunately their frequency is poor, generally once every 30 minutes, which would be a problem for me. A lot of development has begun in this area, ahead of potential investment as part of the mooted Crossrail 2 route (as per the above picture), but these improvements are a way off and even low property prices are not enough to persuade me to buy here.

Enfield Island Village

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The New River runs through Enfield Island Village

Island Village is worth detailing separately to Enfield Highway, as to the uninformed it offers some of the most attractive property to young professionals in the borough. The development opened in the 1990’s and made use of several attractive listed buildings which were previously used as an ammunitions factory, there’s also ample parking and you are near the New River which is generally peaceful. However for commuters into London, Enfield Lock station is the only option and is in Zone 6, and train frequency varies between every 20 and 30 minutes in peak times. There is also very little to the area other than the development, and traffic in the area is generally poor.

Enfield Town

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Town still has some character

At the centre of Enfield is the Town, a large hub of shops and transport which offers the benefits of a small town combined with being within the greater London area. Surrounding the Town is a variety of property, with one bedroom flats priced around my budget in general. However, I have no great affinity for the place, and like Bush Hill Park it also has the issue that it is very close to where I currently live. Two stations are accessible (Town and Chase), but both are located in Zone 5 and both have rather long journey times into central London. Town is certainly an option, but not necessarily my first.

Palmers Green/Arnos Grove

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The Triangle at Palmers Green

Palmers Green and neighbouring Arno Grove are located at the South West edge of Enfield, close to the boundary with Barnet. Much of the focus in the area is around Green Lanes, a road which runs down through North London and is a busy shop-lined bus route. There is a supermarket and good mix of housing, and although traffic can be poor, both Palmers Green and Arnos Grove stations are in Zone 4 and the latter is on the Piccadilly tube line, while the former benefits from trains every 10 mins peak, taking around 30 minutes to reach Moorgate. However property is on the pricey side, with flats close to the station generally being priced around £300k and up. Cheaper properties are available on the other side of the North Circular road, but this negates any benefits with access to tubes and train stations.

Southgate

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Southgate Station looks like some kind of UFO

Southgate is arguably one of the most desirable places in Enfield to live, with good transport links, a variety of restaurants and shops and also a mix of high quality housing with a generally low crime rate. This also means it’s one of the most expensive areas in the borough, and while prices have started to slip recently, it’s rare to find a one bedroom flat priced below £300k (though not impossible). While Southgate makes a good case for itself in general, when these prices are compared to some other areas with even better transport links, its value prospect becomes questionable.

Winchmore Hill

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Winchmore Hill Green is yummy-mummy central

Winchmore Hill is another of the more desirable areas in Enfield, and manages to retain an affluent leafy suburb feel while also having a frequent train service into central London, as well as access to a variety of shops on the High Street. Winchmore Hill station is in Zone 4, while nearby Grange Park is on Zone 5. Affordable flats rarely come onto the market, and when they do they are usually either small in size or a relatively long distance from the station. Fares are also questionable, possibly due to the fact these services are not run by TfL – crossing over to a tube line results in a higher fare than if you’d come in from further out.

Barnet:

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Another large North London borough, Barnet sits to the west of Enfield and is similarly varied in character. As with Enfield, the borough was formed in 1965 with areas formerly classed as Hertfordshire and Middlesex – some parts retain a village-like feel or seem like small towns in their own right, whereas towards the South of the borough areas merge seamlessly into inner London boroughs like Camden and Haringey. In general, Barnet is considered one of the most desirable outer London boroughs, and benefits from being the terminus of the Northern tube line, as well having several train lines and major roads. Another popular attribute of the borough is Brent Cross shopping centre, which is situated in the west of the borough.

East Barnet

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If nothing else, East Barnet is green

East Barnet borders the borough of Enfield and in many places seems indistinguishable – there are no physical markets to the border aside from a few signposts on suburban streets. It’s a mainly residential area, with a few shops but no major supermarkets or high street, although nearby Southgate and Cockfosters caters for those. There are no specific train or tube stations for the area, which rules it out for me, but for those willing to use buses it is not too far away from the Northern and Piccadilly lines, or train lines into Moorgate. Prices for one bedroom flats are relatively affordable for Barnet, starting at around £250k.

Finchley

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A generic Finchley high road

Finchley sprawls over the centre of Barnet, across the North Circular and all the way down to Highgate and the top end of Hampstead Heath. Perhaps it is unfair to lump the whole area together, but given that I don’t know any of it that well it seems easier. Finchley is a busy area with a variety of shops and retail parks, and perhaps is a more traditional North London suburb than the likes of Enfield, which retains a more out-of-London feel. The Northern Line skirts to the West of Finchley, with the rest of the area relatively cut-off in comparison, although East Finchley itself is in Zone 3. However the entire area is expensive compared to other areas of North London; if you want something within walking distance of a tube station you’re looking at around £300k.

Friern Barnet/New Southgate

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The former hospital at Friern Barnet is now a luxury development

Friern Barnet and New Southgate are located in the South Eastern corner of the borough, close to the borders with Enfield and Haringey – it is mostly constricted by the North Circular Road to the South, which generally makes for poor traffic in the area. There is an industrial feel to much of the area, but a lot of development has taken place close to the station in recent years, while Arnos Grove tube station is also relatively nearby. The most affordable property is near the Colney Hatch Lane retail park, but this is around a mile from the train station so not very practical – closer to £300k nets a modern one bedroom but that is quite a lot given the general feel of the area.

Mill Hill

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I’ve never been to Mill Hill…but Google says it looks like this

Although Barnet extends beyond the reach of the A1 and M1, Edgware and Hendon are probably too far outside of my comfort zone in terms of relocating goes. Mill Hill is therefore the furthest west on my entire list of potential places to live, although due to high prices it remains quite unrealistic. Relatively rural in feel, Mill Hill is surrounded by golf courses and parks, with a small high street and shops focused around a Waitrose store and gym. The tube station is on the Northern line and is its own little stub on the High Barnet branch – this means that trains are quite infrequent compared to most tube lines, but it is at least in Zone 4. Property prices start at over £300k for what are admittedly nice one bedroom flats within walking distance of the station.

New Barnet/High Barnet

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The Spires shopping centre is at the heart of Barnet high street

The northern reaches of Barnet were once part of Hertfordshire and still retain much more of a rural feel than the South of the borough. New Barnet and neighbouring High Barnet sit out in Zone 5 and have good transport links to central London – High Barnet is the terminus of the Northern Line, while New Barnet and Oakleigh Park are on the train line into Moorgate (the latter is in Zone 4), although none of these lines is particularly quick. Property nearer New Barnet is relatively affordable and one bedroom flats seem to start at around £240k at the moment, although some of these seem small.

Whetstone

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Whetstone is posh – living near the station is probably unrealistic

The neighbourhood of Totteridge and Whetstone is one of the more rural yet desirable areas of Barnet – some significant wealth lives in the area and there are plenty of large detached houses hidden behind electric gates, as well as luxury developments for those who don’t have budgets of over £10m. Given that my budget is considerably less, property choices are relatively scarce, although curiously the more affordable properties are located near the tube station (Northern Line and Zone 4) due to the greater housing density. Although I have seen one bedroom flats for under £300k, the majority seem to be over this figure, and admittedly rather well sized and fitted out.

Conclusions:

When I originally wrote most of the above, I preferred the idea of living in a more outer London location, mainly due to the fact that this was more my comfort zone and had the benefit of cheaper property prices. In subsequent months, I’ve become more interested in the idea of moving within the North Circular and taking advantage of better transport links. I’ll cover this more in part three…

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