Balham Area Guide
Best Places to Live in the UK > London > Balham Area Guide
For people living outside of London, the capital is a complex beast that is impossible to navigate. However, for die-hard Londoners, the city can be easily divided into two simple regions: North and South.
The North-South divide in London is deeply ingrained into the cities personality; it is often the subject of debate at after-work drinks, and each side of the argument will have their reasons for repping their side of the river (and mocking the other side as well!).
The North-South divide in London used to fall favourably on the side of the North, but the tide is changing. South London used to be mocked for its poor travel connections, as well as a lack of nightlife locations and restaurants. However, the South is fighting back, with there (arguably) being more trendy locations currently in the South than the North.
The Rise of the South
Shoreditch is known as the capital’s hipster hot spot, but the area has arguably become so gentrified that it is no longer cool. For every Brick Lane Beigel Bake and Lahore Kebab House, there is a cafe selling over-priced cereal and a 1920’s themed cocktail bar, flogging your over-priced drinks on the basis that it’s still the prohibition. Essentially, Shoreditch has lost its way, meaning there is a vacant space for London’s lesser-known areas to step into the limelight; South London has taken this chance.
Areas such as Clapham, Peckham and Brixton are now prospering and thriving, with South London now being the city’s ‘go-to’ destination for people moving to the capital. Unsurprisingly, however, this has led to huge rent hikes, and tenants looking at surrounding areas as a more viable solution. One of those areas is Balham.
What makes Balham stand out from other areas?
“We are now entering Old Balham. Time has passed by this remote corner; so shall we” said legendary comedian Peter Sellers, in his 1950’s travel guide to the area, entitled ‘Balham, Gateway to the South.’
However, while Balham in the 1950’s may not have been anything to shout about, the Balham of today couldn’t be further from its past.
Balham has spent much of its life being overshadowed by the neighbouring areas of Brixton, Clapham and Tooting. Although this leafy suburb may not offer the excitement and diversity of its neighbours, Balham has quickly become a highly sought after area for Londoners looking for a slower pace of life while still being able to dip their toe into the capital’s cultural waters.
Such is the allure and attraction of Balham, the area has twice been voted as one of Britain’s best places to live by the Sunday Times, in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The lifelong residents of Balham will tell you that these awards are overdue, with the area having a long history of community spirit and togetherness.
This suburb and its unique character used to be a hidden gem in the capital’s crown, but the stature of the SW12 postcode is growing, as independent coffee stores, restaurants and boutiques continue to arrive on Balham’s doorstep and attract London’s gaze.
Balham’s geography forms a large part of its appeal. The suburb attracts a more mature crowd than the likes of Clapham and Brixton, with it being the perfect place for young families to set up a life in the capital. However, Balham is not just an area for families, it also attracts a younger crowd of Londoners who want to be near the capital’s nightlife without having to be constantly consumed by it.
But, for all this talk of community spirit and a laid-back atmosphere, what is it really like to live in Balham? Everyone who is moving to London, and everyone that already lives in it, is obsessed with one thing and one thing only: the commute.
Transport in and out of Balham
As previously mentioned, South London is notorious for its poor transport links. The lack of tube stations in the South, particularly in the South East, means that rents in South London tend to be lower than its Northern rival. In Balham, however, residents are spoilt for choice and this is reflected in property prices (more on that later).
Despite the fact Balham resides in ‘Zone 3’, the neighbourhood sits on the Northern Line, and benefits from having National Rail trains and plenty of buses to ferry its residents around town.
The variety of travel options in Balham make it the perfect place for young professionals who regularly commute into the capital. The Northern Line takes 20 minutes to reach the corporate offices of Bank, while a train will get you to Victoria station in just 18 minutes. The station is also two stops away from Clapham Junction, which offers access to many other parts of the country. Balham’s transport links are only going to get stronger, with Transport for London currently investing millions into the Northern Line, which is set to increase capacity by 20% and speed by 18%.
London is trying to change its ‘Big Smoke’ image, with the capital committing to several environmental schemes to clean up its air pollution issues. Making the city more cycle-friendly has formed a larger part of this mission, with the city constantly building and developing new cycle lanes and cycle superhighways.
Clapham, and much of South West London, benefits from Cycle Super Highway 7 (CS7), that takes residents from the suburbs into the city. Cycling in London can be tough, but CS7 makes cycling through the city easier and less scary. Not only that, but a cycling commute is a lot cheaper than getting the train or tube, and gives your body a workout along the way.
There’s no doubting that an easy commute makes a huge difference when living in London, but there is more to life than getting to and from work in less than an hour. You need to feel comfortable, safe and happy in your area in order to get the best out of living in the capital – and this is where Balham really excels.
Schools in Balham
For parents with young children, Balham is the perfect place to send their kids to school. The suburb has four primary schools and two comprehensive secondary schools that have been awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, and also boasts multiple private schools as well.
Things to see and do in Balham
As mentioned, another part of Balham’s appeal is the community spirit that you unlikely to find in other parts of the city. Residents in the area like to stay in Balham on the weekends and regularly invest in community projects and events.
Balham high street is overflowing with pavement cafes filled to the brim with families and young professionals, who exist in perfect harmony with one another. Whether you are after a park for picnicking or relaxing, interesting bars or new and exciting restaurants, Balham welcomes everyone.
London is one of the greatest cities in the world when it comes to food, and Balham does its best to contribute to this reputation. Milk, on Bedford Hill, is a hip brunch spot that is the perfect place for a lazy weekend meal, while Balham Farmers’ Market offers delicious fresh pasta, bread and food vendors to hungry customers. Not only is the market the perfect place to fill up hungry tummies, but you can also pick up some groceries while tucking into your treats.
Balham has plenty of chain restaurants for those wanting to play it safe, but the best food lies in independent restaurants and cafes. Heart of Balham is a much-loved local business that serves up delicious food in a laid-back setting. The middle-eastern inspired menu is packed with flavour, while also being perfect for vegetarians and vegans.
It’s no secret that Londoners like a drink and the residents of Balham are no different. The area boasts several traditional pubs and exciting bars to keep punters entertained, with The Exhibit being the pick of the bunch. The venue describes itself as a ‘Youth club for adults’, which may not sound like much, but with a lively bar, a cracking menu and an independent cinema, it’s a fantastic hub of activity that serves the area well.
Outside of The Exhibit, Balham Bowls Club (affectionally known as the BBC) is a giant pub that caters to the community in more ways than your average boozer. Children are allowed until 9pm, dogs are welcome and there’s a programme of events ranging from pub quizzes and live music to mindfulness sessions and yoga.
Another pub of note is The Bedford, which is an iconic venue in a Grade II listed building. Not only does the pub offer a weekly roaster of comedy and live music, but it also hosts Balham Comedy Festival each year and offers a full week of comedy events.
Property in Balham
Given that it’s a London borough with good transport connections and great schools, living in Balham is not cheap. Despite the fact that living in the borough of Wandsworth means that residents of Balham enjoy one of the lowest council tax rates in London, house prices are extremely expensive.
Balham has become so attractive to buyers with plenty of money, that the young professionals who currently reside in the suburb are unlikely to be able to afford a property there.
According to the latest figures from Rightmove, the average price of a flat in Balham was £549,995. Terraced properties sold for an average of £1,172,018, with semi-detached properties fetching a cool £1,446,593.
Balham, with an overall average price of £810,771, is significantly more expensive than other areas of London. The average house price in the capital in 2018 stood at £478,853, meaning Balham is over £300,000 more expensive than the London average.
Development Projects and New Builds
It’s easy to see why property in Balham fetches the prices that it does. Before the arrival of the railway in 1856, and the Northern Line in the 1920s, Balham was an area of old farmhouses and cottages. However, things swiftly changed, and Balham enjoyed two rounds of property building that continue to shape the area today.
The road layout created during the property boom remains, with Balham being packed full of beautiful Victorian and Edwardian period properties that have plenty of space and large (for London at least) gardens. However, with Balham’s population continuing to grow, several eye-catching developments have broken ground in recent years.
The Ipsus10 development at Bedford House is a modern apartment complex on Balham High Road which was awarded the ‘Best Residential Development in London’ at the 2018 international Property Awards.
Despite the increasing popularity of Balham, the suburb remains a something of a hidden gem in London. Its location forms of a large part of the area’s appeal, with Balham being perfectly situated for those who want to enjoy London and all its delights, without the hectic and busy lifestyle.
With great transport links, a growing food and drink scene, and plenty of community projects, Balham is the perfect place for young professionals and young families to co-exist together. It’s this mixture of city living and a village-like atmosphere that marks Balham out as one of the best places to live in London.
If you’re interested in other London Areas, check out our list of area guides for more information on great spots within the capital.
Moving to Balham? Compare the best home removal companies using buzzmove. Get up to 6 free quotes from vetted removal companies.
Published at Mon, 30 Sep 2019 10:00:32 +0000