Living in Acton

By Kirsty Henderson

Acton is a part of Ealing Council and covers a pretty large area straddling zones two and three and borders scary Harlesden to the north, Ealing to the west, Shepherd's Bush to the east and Chiswick to the south. North and West Acton are very residential areas with leafy streets. East Acton is a big more run down and out of the way but has its own small high street with a few shops and restaurants. Acton High Street is the centre of all the action and home to a large supermarket, numerous shops, a small mall, and lots of pubs. South Acton isn't too far from the main street but doesn't have much else going for it.

Housing

There are a lot of large, old houses in the area lots of tenants tend to cram in as many people as possible to keep prices down. Having three people to a room is not uncommon. Many of the large share houses in Acton will be party houses but there are always more civilised choices around if that's not your scene but be prepared to pay for it. Houses tend to be larger in North and West Acton and better suited for creating or joining a house share. Houses tend to be smaller in East Acton. Terraced houses are common in the areas around the High Street and South Acton is full of estates and nasty looking apartment blocks.

People

Acton is packed with antipodeans and if you're a part of this group you'll probably find yourself bumping into the same people over and over again at parties and sharing common friends Because of this, living in Acton will hardly be a quintessential London experience so if that's what you're after then you might want to look elsewhere for a house. There seems to be a large growth in the Polish community popping up as well and pubs are starting to have nights to cater for them.

Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment

For its size, Acton has a lot of pubs to choose from. Acton High Street has a Puzzle Bar and some slightly seedy locals pubs like the Clare Inn, Six Bells and the Windmill among others. The best pub on the street for a few sneaky pints any night of the week is the George and Dragon but the food is a bit posh and overpriced. Same goes for the Rocket on Churchfield Road.

After the pubs shut, the infamous Redback Tavern is the only one choice in the area for swigging snakebites, dancing badly and screaming along to a rock music until 3am. This place is feral and foul but loads of fun and a must for any Aussie or Kiwi in London. You'll either love it or hate it but it has to be experienced at least once. It has cheap drinks, live music and a free BBQ in the summer.

There's a bowling alley in Park Royal that's a short walk from North Acton. It's got a bar where you can get pretty big jugs of beer for £8. Nights out here can turn quite debaucherous.

Parks

Gunnersbury Park is the largest in the area and located south of Acton Town tube. It's huge and has a pitch n' putt, a museum, a pond and often plays host to sporting events. Acton Park is more central and is located right on the High Street on the way to Shepherd's Bush. It's got tennis and basketball courts, a kiddie's playground and plenty of open space. Each year a fair comes through here with dodgy rides and usual fair type stuff. Across the road is a sports park with cricket pitches. There are a few other small parks scattered around including one in North Acton and another on the way to Ealing.

Shops, Restaurants and Takeaways

Shopping in Acton is a bit crap. There’s a small mall on the High Street but it's a bit ghetto and the main draws are pound shops, Iceland and Netto. It's great though if you need cheap random stuff though and it's a good place to stock up for a party. Netto has some seriously cheap booze.

The High Street has the usual McDonald's, KFC and dodgy fried chicken place but there are some other decent places to grab a feed too. Balti House in North Acton does a great curry but they don't deliver unfortunately. You can get fantastic Thai food Royal Siam Orchid (located on Uxbridge Road on the way to Ealing) for under £7 and it's BYO so it makes for a cheap night out. I think it's family-owned and they're very friendly.

Transportation

There's no shortage of choices of transportation in Acton with four underground lines, two national rail stations, loads of bus routes and a few night buses. North, East and West Acton are all served by the Central Line and Acton Town is on the Piccadilly and Distric Lines. Acton Central and South Acton stations are both part of the Silverlink overland route and Acton Main Line has trains that head to Paddington station in only 7 minutes.

Buses go all over west London and at night the 207 bus route is extended all the way into Oxford Circus which makes getting home from central London hassle free. The bus is usually packed with crazy people and drunks which makes the journey an eventful one. It's actually kind of fun if you're drunk as well!

Good Points

  • fun place full of Aussies and Kiwis
  • great transportation links to west and central London
  • affordable rent
  • plenty of places to 'slum it' if you want to make your rent even cheaper
  • easy to get to Heathrow by tube or £20 by minicab

Bad Points

  • full of Aussies and Kiwis so not exactly a true London experience (whatever that is)
  • limited options for going out after the pubs close

AREAS OF LONDON


Acton
Cheap rent means more money to spend at the pubs.


Brixton
Gritty, cheap and international with loads of character.


Camberwell
Edgy, gritty and artsy area close to central London.


Camden Town
Full of punks, market stalls and a great canal.


Clapham
Diverse area with everyone from yuppies to yobbos.


Ealing
Decent shopping but the nightlife is a bit uninspired.


Earl's Court
In zone one but expensive and full of tourists.


East Dulwich
A posh area south of the river but still affordable.


Finsbury Park


Fulham
Very nice area but expensive and the District line is crap.


Greenwich
Nice, safe, close to the city but not much nightlife.


Hammersmith
Great transport links and near to the Thames.


Kilburn
Great transport links but a bit dodgy at night.


Putney
Green and pretty but a little bit on the dull side.


Shepherd's Bush
A lively, edgy, multicultural area in West London.


Shoreditch
Edgy, creative and trendy with a great nightlife.


Stoke Newington


Tooting
A bit rough around the edges but a great place for a curry.


West Hampstead
Well connected by transport but a little expensive.


Willesden Green
Cheap, full of travellers and well connected.


Wimbledon
Nice area, decent nightlife and good transport to the city.

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