If you're looking in SE London, EVERYONE's looking in....

cafes_in_forest_hill

Forest Hill. Forest Hill. Forest Hill. Phil and Kirsty have visited this bit of London maybe, something like, er.. 5 times since we moved here in 2006?

My partner and I moved here because East Dulwich was way too expensive and we were getting outbid on everything in Penge and Sydenham. In retrospect, 'thank phew' because since then SE23 has: been featured in the Telegraph, Evening Standard and Guardian as a property hotspot, linked up to the super-whizz London Overground, buffed up its famous museum (which has since won national awards) and built a new swimming pool and gym. It’s won high street regeneration funding that has actually worked by bringing new independent traders and regular food markets to its town centre. There were even a few supper clubs recently. There really, really were.

It shouldn’t be at all surprising that Rightmove search volume is far heavier for this teeny patch of south east London than ever. It rocketed to almost 50,000 searches over the last month. Its smugger neighbour, East Dulwich had 30,000 searches, while the most popular areas Greenwich and Blackheath scored 69,000 and 55,000 respectively. What we can deduce from the figures is that Forest Hill has become the hotspot it was predicted to be OR that a crazed Rightmove addict with entirely sore fingertips is constantly looking up properties there.

What's SE23 got going for it?
Schools are very good, there’s heaps of green space and cracking commuter links. There are lots of artists’ studios (not just in pricey Havelock Walk ) which have attracted hip young things from Hackney who are now paying much less for work space/ a home than the going rate in Hackers. It’s also got The Vibe. We’re not sure where that comes from or how it gets there, but The Vibe is apparent in only-just-still-affordable SE23 (if such a thing exists in London). Get in quick.

We recommend...
The coffee shops and bars. Try The Montage (pictured top left) for tea and art, From the Forest or St David for a decent coffee, Canvas and Cream for evening food and an on-site gallery. Pubs are good; The Sylvan Post is ultra-trendos, The Dartmouth Arms more traditional, while The Hob hosts excellent comedy nights upstairs. You'll find decent Indian and Chinese restaurants, Aga's Little Deli(pictured top left), Sainsbury's, a traditional sweet shop, haberdashery and various boutiques and gift shops.

If you have kids...
Schools are truly good 'round here. Elliot Bank, Fairlawn, Horniman, Dalmain, Kilmorie are all good primary options while Forest Hill Boys' and Sydenham Girls' both gain superior London state school GCSE results. Independent schools include St Dunstan's and Sydenham High; both seem to appeal to fairly hippy-ish middle class parents.

Housing stock
Is varied. Find mammoth Victorian and Edwardian homes along Ewelme and Benson roads, comfy 1930's semis around Westwood Park and 1960/70's townhouses on Sydeham Hill, Taymount Rise, Dartmouth Road and Inglemere Road. You'll get more for your money if you hunt off Stanstead Road and around Mayow Park, but only just.