Staying in London at the right price needs a clever buying strategy, especially for families looking for that precious trinity of good schools, a friendly community and great value.
New research by Homes & Property reveals the areas that have been hiding from view but which offer all three.
Where to look
Finsbury Park, just north of Islington's gentrified terraces, is one such place. The Victorian park, bigger than St James's Park and Green Park combined, has been restored with Heritage Lottery funding, while regeneration is improving surrounding streets.
With a varied stock of period houses and the bonus of Zone 2 Tube and rail stations, recently upgraded, the area is crying out for young families. Why has it been overlooked? Partly because three boroughs (Islington, Hackney and Haringey) meet there, and it has been neglected by all. However, change is afoot.
A pair of 21-storey skyscrapers offering 355 homes (below), including family apartments, plus offices, shops and restaurants have been agreed by Islington planners and welcomed by CABE, the Government's architectural watchdog, as an "elegant addition to the skyline".
Behind the project is entrepreneur Jack Morris, who in the Eighties transformed Islington's Royal Agricultural Hall into the Business Design Centre, which heralded the gentrification of Upper Street. He hopes to achieve the same success in Finsbury Park, with a new neighbourhood hub bordering the park.
Anyone priced out of Islington's trendier parts should look at the swathe of north London from Finsbury Park to the commanding summit of Alexandra Palace.
GREEN LANES is a major route out of the capital, passing through Wood Green and cutting across the North Circular Road to leafy suburbs such as Winchmore Hill, which has untroubled streets, private schools and is a handy 25-minute commute to the City.
Aspex, at the Finsbury Park end of Green Lanes, has 25 homes set back from the road and backing on to a giant reservoir, a wildlife haven also used by an aquatics club. Substantial Victorian houses in the area cost about £800,000, half the price of Highbury, according to estate agent Winkworth (020 8800 5151). New four-bedroom houses at Pine Grove, on the border with Holloway, cost £945,000.
Nearby CROUCH END is hardly bargain territory, but it is significantly cheaper than neighbouring Highgate and Muswell Hill. Arty and mildly radical, it has good pubs and primary schools, quirky shops and a café society promoted by buggy-pushing mums and dads and resting actors. Family houses are plentiful and good value by London standards.
Briston Grove is a niche development of four modern-design houses - rare in Crouch End - built on the site of a former convent. Prices from £1.395 million. Call 020 8342 9999.
Going east into HACKNEY, Queensbridge Quarter, bordering London Fields, has 151 properties, including 27 houses that offer a contemporary take on a traditional terrace. Houses have up to four bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows at front and rear, while interiors are opened up by a double-height stairwell with skylight. Prices from £500,000. Call Fyfe McDade on 020 7613 4044.
Other areas to watch
SHEPHERD'S BUSH in west London and BROCKLEY in south-east London are similarly well located, attractively priced inner-city areas on the up. Coming soon to both are new family houses by developer St James Urban Living.
In Stowe Road in Shepherd's Bush, the first phase of five-storey, four-bedroom houses will have light-filled basements, roof terraces and winter gardens.
Telegraph Hill, Brockley, is a Victorian conservation area with two parks and sweeping views of London. Local estate agents claim that the area is undervalued.
The area has quick (six-minute) rail links to London Bridge, is on the East London line and boasts highly rated Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College, the most over-subscribed state school in the country. A dozen new town houses are to be built on a reservoir site next to the school. Call 01372 364500.