Peckham, Camberwell and Lambeth. Think, too, about Catford, Hither Green and Lewisham, where smaller period terrace houses cost from £250,000.
Beyond the South Circular: consider leafy inner suburbs such as Earlsfield, Streatham and Norwood, where homes are also relatively cheap.
Regeneration zones: areas benefiting from transport upgrades appeal to buyers with an eye on investment growth. Woolwich, for example, has been "up and coming" for more than a decade but the game-changer will be Crossrail. When the station opens in 2018, up to 12 trains an hour will link Woolwich with Canary Wharf, the West End and Heathrow. Property values in the area have risen from about £300 to £400 a square foot over a decade not spectacular but there is more growth to come, said Peter Sloane of Savills.
From £222,000: apartments with sky gardens at Woolwich Central
Woolwich Central is a scheme of 259 flats in nine distinctive buildings with landscaped walkways and sky gardens. Homes have glass-walled winter gardens for year-round living and views of the Thames. From £222,000. Call 020 8855 7290.
East London: this is where most new homes are being built. This big and diverse part of town, with both raw and more refined neighbourhoods, has growing appeal for buyers and renters alike. Away from Canary Wharf 's waterfront towers, Hoxton's arty lofts and the gentrified pockets around Victoria Park, homes are within the budget of first-time buyers.
According to Hamptons International, there is a "concentrated focus of regeneration" in postcodes surrounding Stratford, with changes pushing out to Hackney Wick, West Ham and Leyton.
Outer west London: there's plenty of choice here. Brentford Lock West has 530 flats and townhouses from £284,950. Call 0202 8569 7449.
* Estate agencies with an extensive network of branches across London include Winkworth (020 7240 3337); Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward (020 8739 2000); Felicity J Lord (020 3441 9000), and Hamptons (020 7758 8488).
* New homes developers focusing on first-time buyers and movers include Bellway, Barratt, Crest Nicholson, Redrow, Telford and United House. Their developments and locations are listed on their websites.