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Islington

Living in The London Borough of Islington

Just four miles from the heart of central London, this trendy, liberal borough has an enviable property market, world-class theatres and an array of mouth-watering restaurants. So what's it really like to live in Islington?

“An eclectic range of housing options, excellent retail, dining and nightlife opportunities and brilliant commuting links are just a few of the reasons why so many people find themselves drawn to Islington.”

Moving to Islington

Stretching from the edges of the City at Farringdon and Old Street to the boundary of Haringey, this compact yet diverse borough is one of the most lively in London. An eclectic range of housing options, excellent retail, dining and nightlife opportunities and brilliant commuting links are just a few of the reasons why so many people find themselves drawn to this North London borough.

On the weekends, locals can often be found browsing through small independent boutiques and a treasure trove of antiques in Camden Passage, before making their way to sample the tempting array of international cuisine served at Exmouth Market. Angel, in particular, has a selection of notable restaurants, whilst Islington’s art scene is exceptional, with many theatre venues such as Almeida and Sadler’s Wells showcasing some of the finest examples of British drama and art. Popular with young professionals and less so with families, Islington has also seen the rise of tech businesses and start-up hubs in recent years, with a selection of the UK’s most exciting companies now found in offices around Old Street (also known as ‘Silicon Roundabout’) and Farringdon. However, behind the affluent streets, Islington is a borough of haves and have-nots with a high level of deprivation – the area has one of the highest child poverty rates in London at 38%, and 44% of residents live in social housing as of 2012. Islington’s highest scoring Locality Reality postcode is N7 8AP hitting the 9.3 mark on Arundel Square.

House Prices in Islington

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the borough of Islington is booming in popularity and its property market is thriving. It is among the top 10 most expensive boroughs in London, with house prices over £700,000 on average, making it out of reach for the majority of Londoners. A wide range of properties can be found here, from ornate period terraces to stylish new-build apartments, but you’ll have to stretch your budget if you’ve set your heart on most of the borough’s popular southern spots, including Angel, Clerkenwell, Highbury & Islington and Old Street. More relatively affordable properties can be found further north, particularly in Holloway and Archway.

“Popular with young professionals and less so with families, Islington has also seen the rise of tech businesses and start-up hubs in recent years, with a selection of the UK’s most exciting companies now found in offices around Old Street”

Travelling from Islington

Central and well-connected, this borough’s commuting population is served by Overground, Underground and Great Northern train line. The Victoria, Piccadilly and Northern Lines transport residents all over the city, while the Overground is ideal for travelling into East London. There are also very good bus routes throughout the borough both day and night.

Restaurants in Islington

Alongside its cultural prowess, Islington is famed for its array of restaurants, cafes and bars. Upper Street is a hive of activity at all times of day, with renowned independent restaurants such as Oldroyd, Ottolenghi and Chinese Laundry sitting alongside old favourites including Byron Burger and Carluccio’s. After dark, the streets of Islington come alive with the professional crowd heading to the likes of London Cocktail Club, Little Bat, and the quirky Victorian townhouse venue The Dead Dolls House Islington. On weekends, local families can often be found relaxing in one of the area’s cosy, family-friendly gastro pubs, whilst Exmouth Market is another option for residents seeking a mouthwatering selection of restaurants including Caravan, Morito and Pizza Pilgrims.

Retail opportunities are in abundance here, with a range of independent boutiques, designer brands and high-street favourites all to be found in Angel and beyond, including Annie’s vintage boutique on Charlton Place and Reiss on Islington Green. Meanwhile for antique hunters, the streets surrounding Camden Passage and the weekly market here offer everything from Victorian cutlery to 1960s’ curtains.

Groceries

Alongside a range of supermarkets, with branches of major chains Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s as well as popular Asian superstore Hing Yip, Islington also offers an impressive selection of independent food stores and local markets. Cheese shops, butchers, fishmongers and even boutique chocolate shops can all be found in areas such as Angel and Highbury& Islington, whilst the weekly Islington Farmers’ Market on Penton Street is one of the best places in the borough to find artisan produce.

Gyms in Islington

Islington residents are generally an active bunch, thanks to the assortment of fitness facilities scattered throughout the borough. Branches of major gym chains such as Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing, Virgin Active and The Gym are all located here, as well as smaller, upmarket studios for the likes of yoga, pilates and CrossFit. Good council-run services can also be found, including Islington Tennis Centre and Sobell Leisure Centre.

Culture

Popular with successful literary and creative figures, it comes as no surprise that Islington is a hub of cultural activities. A number of world-class theatres can be found here, such as the Almeida Theatre and Sadler’s Wells Theatre, as well as a seemly endless array of well-respected community theatres including the Hen and Chickens Theatre and the King’s Head Theatre.

Film fans are well-provided for, with an Odeon Cinema, Everyman Cinema and Vue Cinema all found within the boundaries of the borough, whilst music venues such as the O2 Academy Islington, Islington Assembly Hall and Union Chapel host concerts for every genre from classical symphonies to cutting-edge DJs. Boutique galleries can also be found throughout the area for residents with an artistic bent.

“While you’d expect urban-centric Islington to fare poorly when it comes to green space, the borough is surprisingly well-supplied with parks, being home to approximately 154 of them”

Schools and Education in Islington

Education is a huge draw for families thinking of relocating to the area, with 100% of secondary school pupils in Ofsted ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools as of 2013. Some of the best primary schools in Islington include William Tynedale Primary School, St Peter and St Paul RC Primary School and Pakeman Primary School, while for older children St Aloysius RC College and Highbury Fields School are highly recommended.

In terms of further education, the borough is also home to City, University of London, which offers the prestigious Cass Business School and a sought-after Department of Journalism

Safety in Islington

This inner London borough has a relatively high crime rate, with 116 crimes per 1000 people as of 2014, making it one of the least safe boroughs in London. Crime hotspots in the borough include Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, and portions of Upper Street.

Green Spaces in Islington

While you’d expect this urban-centric borough to fare poorly when it comes to green space, it is surprisingly well-supplied with parks, being home to approximately 154 of them. It won an award in 2015 for sustainability and greenery, and top parks in the area include Highbury Fields and Gillespie Park, whilst a weekend stroll along Regent’s Canal is also hugely popular with local residents.

History

From Saxon settlement to blackened shell hollowed out by the bombs of World War II, the Borough of Islington has seen its fortunes flourish and fall over the years. The most densely populated borough in the UK as of 2011, Islington has risen up the ranks to become a hive of cultural activity and a sought-after home for London’s successful professionals.

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