Ham OR High: which is the best place to live?
- Credit: Archant
A new Sunday Times poll snubbed Hampstead to crown Highgate one of the best places to live in the UK. Tell us if you agree with our own poll
Two neighbourhoods, both alike in dignity. In fair Camden where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny. Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. Or at least that’s what the Sunday Times would have us believe.
Highgate made the cut and was included as number 13 on the list of ‘old favourites’. It was described as “a much better place to live [than Hampstead]” by virtue of being cheaper and less overrun by tourists, whilst still being close to the Heath. Hampstead meanwhile was snubbed by being left out of the category entirely.
Voting is still open and we are sure that Highgate will thrash the other contenders (Mayfair, who? Bath, don’t make us laugh!), but with Hampstead so rudely snubbed we’ve decided to take matters in to our own hands and conduct our own (highly scientific) study.
It was the slightly cheaper house prices sealed the deal for Highgate in the Sunday Times. The current average value of homes in Highgate is £1,417,878 according to Zoopla, whilst in Hampstead you’ll pay more at £1,545,714.
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If you want to cash in on this popularity contest you’ll have to move fast, though. Highgate’s property values have risen 2.06 per cent in the last 12 months, but in Hampstead, values have fallen 0.02 per cent.
Both areas are filled with gorgeous period properties. Hampstead has houses built in the Edwardian era whilst you’ll want to head to Highgate for a Georgian townhouse, and both have plenty of Victorian homes making up their housing stock.
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As far as schooling goes, it’s true that top private schools abound in Highgate, including the revered Highgate and Channing schools. There are plenty of Ofsted-rated Good and Outstanding schools too, including the liberal Highgate Primary and St Aloysius RC College. Hampstead is hardly letting the side down though. Emmanuel Primary received an Outstanding Ofsted rating whilst Beckford Primary was rated Good. Secondary education is thinner on the ground, but nearby West Hampstead’s UCS and St Margaret’s both get excellent results.
Location, location, location
We’re told that it’s all about location; what then divides the two apart from the Heath? Hampstead is geographically closer to central London and is situated in Zone 2. The Northern Line serves Hampstead Underground station while the Jubilee Line stops at both Finchley Road and West Hampstead, which also has a Thameslink station. The Overground makes several stops in the Hampstead vicinity. Highgate is further out with a tube station in Zone 3, but the Northern Line gives a direct route to the city, and there are plenty of buses serving the area.
Highgate is proud of its independent boutiques which include the Highgate Bookshop, independent doggie salon Hair of the Dog and craft haven Selvedge. For food there’s Limone Fine Foods, Puglian restaurant Ostuni and a weekly food market, whilst the historic The Flask is top for a tipple.
While it’s true that chains like Gail’s bakery and Carluccio’s serve locals in Hampstead, there are still plenty of independent eateries like Coffee Cup, Italian La Gaffe and La Crêperie de Hampstead.
Both often fall into the tempting trap of calling themselves ‘villages’, but villages they ain’t. Anywhere that has a weekly market serving gluten-free almond cake with raw artisan honey is not true Vicar of Dibley territory. From award winning fringe theatre to independent boutiques, these ‘villages’ are of the cosmopolitan variety. And we wouldn’t change them, since their independent shops, historic pubs and property to dream of is what makes them so sought after in the capital.
“The grass is greener on this side of the Heath,” said the Sunday Times, but we can’t condone the suggestion of a referendum being held between NW3 and N6.
In these turbulent political and economic times it seems best we stick together rather than growing ever more disparate, by celebrating what unites us.
That being said, if the best places list has stirred up beef between the star-cross’d postcodes we’d better see it settled once and for all.
Cast your vote and let us know which place is really the best to live in...