8 reasons why Earlsfield is a great place to live in London
When I’m not travelling, and in between my various stints abroad, I live in London. And what a city it is! It’s the biggest city in Europe and one that people the world over dream of visiting and experiencing one day. Its sheer size means it has literally everything you could need: plenty of jobs in all manner of professions; entertainment and arts options to suit every taste, no matter how niche; people, cultures and cuisines from all walks of life; as well as novelty, vibrancy and energy at every turn. It’s the most amazing place.
One of the biggest questions for a Londoner, whether newly-arrived or long-standing, whether renting or buying, is where to live amongst all the hundreds of different areas. Choosing wisely is key, as it determines how stressful or stress-free your commute will be; how often you’ll see friends or which ones you’ll grow closest to; how much money you’ll have left after rent/mortgage; where and on what you’ll spend a good chunk of your spare time and money; not to mention your general life satisfaction and happiness.
4 years ago I made the leap into adulthood and onto the property ladder by buying a flat in south-west London together with my sister, and for location we settled on Earlsfield, in the leafy borough of Wandsworth.
Earlsfield sits in Zone 3, on the train line between Clapham Junction and Wimbledon. It’s also south of Wandsworth Town, east of Southfields, north of Tooting, and it takes just 15 minutes to reach Waterloo station. While Earlsfield was relatively unknown back in 2015, we must have picked well, because it has since become a thriving community of like-minded millennials and young professionals, and every year several new friends move into Earlsfield, becoming more and more popular and sociable. This is fantastic news for us as great theatres, delicatessens, restaurants and shops keep opening, showing that Earlsfield is well and truly on-the-map.
Here are my top 8 favourite things about living in Earlsfield and wider Wandsworth:
1. Cost of living:
The affordable rent and high number of properties make Earlsfield a great option within a capital city that’s notorious worldwide for its sky-high prices. While the area mostly has the traditional Victorian terraced housing, lots of development is taking place near Wandsworth High Street, such as the Ram Quarter, and around King George VI’s Park, so new properties are popping up every month and this keeps prices affordable, as well as rejuvenating and smartening up lots of areas and streets. Wandsworth Borough is also famous for its extremely low council tax – the second lowest in the country in 2019/20, and around half the London average.
A key criteria for my sister and I, as two girls, was to live in a safe part of London where we could walk around any time of day or night and feel 100% comfortable. Happily I’ve never felt in any danger in Earlsfield, neither personally nor for my belongings/property. During two years of locking my bike up overnight on Garratt Lane, it has never once been touched, which is saying something! I once even left my iPhone mounted on my bike handlebars for 20 minutes before remembering and running back in a panic, to find that the phone was still there and no one had gone near it!
- The Tara Theatre: Special mention goes to Earlsfield’s very own, recently built 100-seat theatre with a fantastic schedule of performances: comedies, classical theatre, dance and even foreign language shows, and best of all: tickets are only circa £15 per person, which is an absolute steal compared to the West End. You’ll find it right next to the train station, with a great pre-theatre bar inside.
- The Wandle Pub: With a large beer garden, live matches shown, and live music on Friday and Saturday nights, the Wandle is Earlsfield’s main night out and a lot of fun (if slightly carnage!). It’s so popular they sometimes have one-in-one-out queues and it attracts a fun, young crowd, and is the perfect spontaneous addition to dinner out.
- The Earl Spencer Pub: Cosy pub with roaring fires, always seems to be busy!
- The Leather Bottle Pub: Slightly further south of Earlsfield station is this 300-year-old pub with a brilliant beer garden in summer
- Backyard Cinema have opened a pop-up ‘winter night garden’ cinema in Wandsworth Town that you reach through an ‘enchanted forest’, complete with bean bags, and I haven’t yet been but am looking forward to it!
- Cineworld cinema at Southside: with 14 screens, showing the latest films
- Shops at Southside: There’s also a huge shopping centre with Waitrose, Sainsburys, Decathlon, Gap, Uniqlo, H&M, New Look, Debenhams, TK Maxx, Boots, Superdrug, Waterstones, Planet Organic and all the normal kinds of shops you’d expect, plus lots of restaurants like Wagamamas and Rosso Pomodoro, which are not so characterful, but actually very useful to have within walking distance.
For jogging, picnics in the sun, football, etc:
- King George’s Park is my nearest and favourite park for runs, complete with 10 public tennis courts, a playground, pretty pond with willow trees and swans
- Wandsworth Park sees cricket matches, riverside views and even has a mini-golf course complete with bar, so you can take a bottle of wine round as you play
- The picturesque River Wandle runs north-south through Earlsfield and can be walked or cycled easily, as a nice escape from the roads
- The Thames Path is a 296km National Trail that runs along the north border of Wandsworth alongside the Thames (as the name would suggest!). It’s a really picturesque pedestrian and cycle route overlooking the river and is actually my commute to work, as I cycle along it towards central London, and is honestly the best commute I’ve ever had!
I sadly can’t claim to have tried all of Earlsfield’s gastronomic offerings, but my favourites include:
- Wimbledon Farmers Market on Saturday mornings for fresh produce and yummy food on the spot.
- Dugard & Daughters Butcher and Larder on Garratt Lane, a fancy deli for the best ingredients.
- Brunch: Konnigans in Wandsworth Town or Bean & Hop in Earlsfield.
- Cafes: a Gail’s bakery has arrived in Earlsfield, which can only be a good thing!
- Restaurants: The Thai Grocer or Cafe Amaranth for excellent Thai food (Cafe Amrutha is a vegan equivalent); Il Girasole for no-fuss authentic Italian fare; Burrata for pizza; Roxie Steak for South African food and steak.
- Trains: Earlsfield station is 4 minutes from Clapham Junction, which is Britain’s busiest station and can take you almost anywhere. It’s also direct to Vauxhall (in 9 mins) and to Waterloo (in 14 mins) and trains run every 3-4 minutes throughout the day. I equally love how close Earlsfield is to Gatwick Airport by train (in 35 mins via Clapham Junction) so it’s ideal for weekend escapes abroad, or down to the south coast of England for a seaside day out. Further north there’s also Wandsworth Town station which can take you west towards Putney and Richmond or east towards Waterloo.
- Underground: Depending on where you are in Wandsworth, the District line stations of East Putney, Southfields and Wimbledon Park may be handy for reaching West London (including Paddington) or connecting with other tube lines (via Earls Court).
- Cycling: I personally cycle everywhere and find it very safe to do so around Wandsworth and into central London, via by the Thames Path for a scenic route or Cycle Super Highway 8 for a speedy route. Here’s more info on cycling in Wandsworth. Towards the north of the borough there are also Santander Cycles you can hire.
The Earlsfield demographic are young and sporty, so there’s plenty on offer for fitness, beyond jogging round the parks:
- Gyms and yoga: In King George’s Park there’s a good Nuffield Health gym and pool. Nearer the river there’s a Virgin Active gym, as well as cheaper options like EasyGym and Pure Gym. There are quite a few different yoga and female-only fitness studios (I can recommend Beattitude).
- Tennis: I play tennis at nearby Putney Lawn tennis club or at the public courts in King George’s Park. And of course in summer, you’re walking distance from the Wimbledon Tennis Club itself!
- Running: If you’re keen on running races, then you’re well placed for four different 5km Parkruns on Saturday mornings: at Fulham Palace, Wimbledon Common, Clapham Common and Tooting Common.
- Swimming: As well as pools inside other gyms, there’s a public indoor pool in Southfields and the UK’s longest outdoor lido is not far away in Tooting Bec – it’s 91m-long and unheated so you’ll probably want a wetsuit in winter, but it’s brilliant for cold-water triathlon training and equally appealing during heat waves in the summer!
- More niche sports: Earlsfield has London’s largest trampolining centre, Flipout (I’d recommend you only go during the adult-only sessions) and there are various boxing and boxfit studios too.
Alongside all of the above, one of the most attractive things about Earlsfield in my opinion is the people. So many of my friends and young like-minded people live in the area that I have lots of friends within walking distance, something that is exceptionally rare in a city as vast as London. Every year I swear it gets more popular and I spot more and more friends and acquaintances here, helping to create a sense of community that can often be missing in capital cities.