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The local area guide to living in Islington
Previously considered the poor neighbour of the City and Clerkenwell, Islington has managed to completely change its historical image since the 1990s thanks to a heavy dose of gentrification, and now ranks as one of London’s most expensive and fashionable areas to live. Home to both professionals and more creative types, Islington is attractive to people from a range of lifestyles.
The most striking feature of Islington is its architecture. This is mostly comprised of tall, slender 19th century townhouses that were somewhat ironically built as affordable alternatives to other areas of London. These same homes now come with hefty price tags that can rival even central London neighbourhoods. Some reminders of Islington’s former nature remain in the social housing situated in both the North and West of the area.
The relaxed, bohemian, nature of Islington is best seen on Upper Street. This area has a vast range of shops, from independent delis, to buzzing bars – and that is without even mentioning the shopping – Upper Street has it all.
Information about the local residents
With the wealthy having taken advantage of the housing situation in the 90s, celebrities and the super-rich can all be spied living locally. On other side of Islington, largely around Caledonian Road or Essex Road, many people have made converted flats and ex-social housing their homes. There is also a large population of young people in Islington, with a significant portion of the area’s residents coming from the 16-34 demographic.
There is a wide range of schooling opportunities in Islington, though a number tend to be oversubscribed. An affluent area with local families to match, the best schools, both state and private, have high competition for spaces. There are, however, hundreds of primary schools to choose from, as well as several esteemed secondary schools like Highbury Fields School or City of London Academy. There is also a Steiner school situated near Canonbury station that offers a more liberal option for education.
Islington is reasonably central, with the Northern line from Angel or the Victoria line from Highbury and Islington both reaching King’s Cross in a single stop. Travel options aren’t limited to the tube, though, the bus system is very well connected here, and you can get to central London or more suburban areas of north London very easily. If you prefer slightly faster travel, Highbury and Islington station is also a hub for London overground lines.
You can get around Islington itself easily, and a lot of the more residential areas away from the main high street are perfect for cycling from destination to destination.
Islington has a fantastic selection of shopping opportunities. Upper Street is without a doubt the best known destination in Islington for a spot of retail therapy, with a seemingly endless range of shops, cosy cafes, and a huge selection of restaurants. One of the city’s most rapidly growing shopping areas in recent years, Angel and its dedicated Angel Central shopping hub provides everything from shops and restaurants, to a cinema and a prominent concert venue.
While you can get highstreet brands on Upper Street, if you are looking for independent stores then there is Camden Passage. This area, located near Upper Street, is a lovely street that is filled with boutique stores, cafes and restaurants. There are also markets that occur here quite often, particularly at the weekends.
The amount of restaurants in Islington means you can find whatever your taste buds are craving, with a huge range of cuisines available. Of particular note is the Smokehouse, situated just off Upper Street, serving Korean style BBQ. If you are in the mood for a drink instead, the Alma N1 has consistently been voted as one of the best pubs in the entire Islington area, and can get you away from the more crowded high street.
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