Two years ago, when I told my friends I was moving from Highgate (posh, think Kate Moss and fine furs), to Elephant and Castle (not posh, think Vicky Pollard and faux leather), they struck a look between birthing a surprise bout of piles mixed with a chronic attack of IBS. Yep, raised eyebrows and mass confusion set in. I was always playing the posh friend (even though I was living in Highgate, I was living on air, and eBay), I delivered the line that gave even the snobbiest of old English Londoners a warm smile when I told them where I lived. It was always very impressive; while my friends were roughing it in East London - I was way past that period of my life.
Then I moved to Elephant, and no one was ready for that. For me - it was either stay in Highgate, continue to look posh but not take regular trips to my beloved second home, New York, or half my rent and go to New York often - Elephant won. And let me tell you, I have never felt more in love or alive an area. Sure you have to hurdle your way through a few Strongbow bums on the way to Tesco, and the notorious shopping centre is pretty much the indoor apocalypse, but the raw energy of the South East is hugely creative and endlessly inspiring to me. My neighbourhood feels like a neighbourhood, buzzing, familiar and very real; nestled by the South Bank you feel the heartbeat of the city without the headache.
So here are some of the plus points to living in Elephant and Castle, snobs take note: we're like so not bothered, and our rent is half of yours, deal.
You can walk, everywhere:
Possibly my favourite thing about living here - the amazing walks. I regularly walk home from town over any chosen bridge and soak up the view, or across to Westminster. Sometimes I do an epic walk along the Thames just because I can; you can get anywhere central for free - unbeatable.
Like none - only the occasional busload of students staying at the uber hip hostel. No elbows in your face, sea of shiny puffa jackets, fighting for pavement or confused wanders, and considering we're zone one - we rule.
Elephant's (outdated) dodgy reputation has thankfully kept the rent prices like enthusiasm from the narrow minded - low. I have friends that live a stones throw away in SE1, because it's postcode cool, who pay three times the rent I pay for a tiny place. Been there, done that. I'll take the split level flat with only the occasional high wide boy walked past any day.
Sure we don't have Regent's Park or Hampstead Heath, but we have the most beautiful selection of small parks scattered around the neighbourhood which each have their own allure. You won't see any celebs though, just me looking Zen or sweaty from a run.
You get high for free on Bank Holidays:
Just a short walk to a coffee house any post bank holiday weekend means you'll get high from the fumes leaking out of every corner - especially via the main roundabout underpass, oh yes.
Parents visit less:
Kind of similar to that look of horror on your mother's face when you take her to Camden and she tightens the grip on her handbag when she see a goth, the generation gap means they'll visit less when you move here.
You can look like crap - no one cares:
It's casual central, mega chilled - everyone is on the same page, and that page is carefree, unlike Highgate where a trip to Tesco meant you could see Kate Moss and feel like utter shit for wearing your 'Sunday look'. Or worse - Shoreditch where you feel like a style pariah if you're not in cutting edge something. Here we live and let live, glamming it up when we go 'out - out'.
The travel connections kick arse:
Waterloo and London Bridge are a short walk away and I even walk home from Victoria if the mood takes me, so there.
The River/South Bank:
25 minutes means I'm on the South Bank or at my favourite spot right my Tower Bridge. It is my Zen place to recharge and reflect on my week by the glorious Thames.
There's always a seat on the bus:
If I've been visiting the North, it's rare that someone from Hamstead is coming to E&C so there is always room on bus. Their loss.