For a buzz on a budget - head south

Lively south-east London postcodes offer amazing value close to good transport and jobs
flats at Renaissance
£185,000: for flats at 788-new homes Renaissance, a major Lewisham revamp
SE postcodes are among the cheapest in the capital - but they also include a number of London's buzziest areas, some of which are in Zone 2 and close to the key employment hubs of the West End, City and Canary Wharf.

Shared-ownership is making it possible for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder in this part of town, sometimes being able to buy outright.

South-east London stretches from Woolwich, via Dulwich and Herne Hill, to Camberwell and Kennington. Beyond the snaking South Circular Road are some leafy inner suburbs (such as Earlsfield, Streatham and Norwood) where homes are relatively cheap. Apartments at The Meadows, overlooking Mitcham Common in Merton, cost from £160,000, for example. Call Notting Hill housing association on 020 8357 4444.

"South-east London is gaining more and more converts," says Becky Munday of estate agent Wooster & Stock. "When people discover areas such as East Dulwich and Nunhead they're taken aback by the value for money they can still get. Similar homes north of the river can be twice the price."

portrait of Jarno Stet
Jarno Stet pays less each month now than he did we he rented

'It's cheaper for me'

Jarno Stet, 30, an environmental services manager for Westminster City Council, had been privately renting in Rotherhithe for eight years, unable to muster a big enough deposit to buy.

Regeneration around Canada Water Tube station gave him a home ownership opportunity. Maple Quays, the first phase of 900 homes, is being built around a new civic square, which eventually will be at the heart of a new town centre, with shops, restaurants and a library.

Contemporary buildings overlook a narrow canal, a legacy from the old docks era. Jarno bought a 25 per cent stake in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat, paying £121,000, and putting down a 10 per cent deposit on this amount, which was manageable.

"Total monthly outgoings for my new home are less than the £1,000 a month I was paying for a room in shared accommodation," he says. Rotherhithe is a convenient halfway point between central London and Docklands - a short hop to each from the Jubilee line station. "My daily commute to Westminster takes 20 minutes door to door," Jarno adds. Prices start at £98,750 (full price, £395,000). Call 0300 100 0303.

Residents can make use of a communal roof terrace and there is a 24-hour concierge. The homes are being sold by Affinity Sutton housing association, which has an exclusive 95 per cent loan-to-value mortgage deal available with Banco Santander.

homes at Maple Quays
From £98,750: homes at Maple Quays, the first phase of 900 homes
Bermondsey's rougher edges are getting a facelift. There is no better example than Bermondsey Spa, where regeneration is eliminating eyesores and creating hundreds of stylish affordable homes. This 50-acre zone is sandwiched between smart Shad Thames and gritty Grange Road. Southwark council and Hyde housing association are leading the 2,000-home project. Several dashing new apartment blocks are complete. Bolanachi, the latest phase, has two-bedroom apartments priced from £330,000, and coming soon are homes for shared ownership and rent. Show flats are open for viewing. Call 020 7231 1200.

Greenwich, a Unesco world heritage site, is experiencing a development boom. Close to the historic town centre are several apartment schemes, some built, some close to completion.

Greenwich Creekside is part of a new "creative quarter". Modern, glass architecture by Squire and Partners raises the bar. Homes include penthouse flats with river and park views. Plans include a jazz venue, galleries, canalside bars and restaurants. Flats cost from £255,000 - or £63,750 for a 25 per cent share, through L&Q housing association. Call 0844 406 9800.

Delta, a Barratt scheme, has studios priced from £189,500. Call 0844 811 4334.

Lewisham town centre is another regeneration hotspot, though lacking a well-conceived masterplan. Renaissance is a new-build complex opposite the mainline and DLR stations. Prices start at £187,000 for a one-bedroom flat. The scheme's 788 homes overlook a park and piazza, while alongside is a major new leisure centre with 25-metre swimming pool. Call 020 8318 3900.

For good-value older housing stock, head for Hither Green. Quick rail connections are the key to this low-profile area's rise. During the peak morning period, up to nine trains an hour leave for central London, while the night train from Charing Cross leaves at 1 am, a boon for stop-outs.

Family Mosaic housing association has launched Cutler Apartments on New Kent Road, SE1. The minimum 35 per cent share costs £82,250 (full price, £235,000). Call 020 7089 1315. The same provider has schemes coming up in Old Kent Road and Shooters Hill, near Blackheath.

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