Living in Greenwich
By Sarah Gaugh
Greenwich town is part of the London Borough of Greenwich which lies along the south bank of the river, stretching from Greenwich eastwards to Thamesmead encompassing Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich and Plumstead. Greenwich is quite large and unofficially divided into East and West Greenwich. The town centre lies in the middle. It's small, with an 'old town' feel and has a few small shops. The main attractions of the town centre are Cutty Sark, the Observatory and the National Maritime Museum, all of which are located in Greenwich Park. The poshest parts of Greenwich are those closest to these attractions, and the further from the centre you get, the rougher the area becomes, particularly where the town borders Deptford and Lewisham, though you still wouldn't call these places 'rough.' For everything you need to know about the area, check out All Things Greenwich.
The housing in Greenwich is fairly similar throughout and generally quite expensive. Streets are often quite leafy in comparison to some other areas of London. The areas around the park and town centre include lots of attractive largish houses, a few of which have been converted into self-contained one-bedroom flats which are quite pricey at anywhere upwards of £800 per month. Further out from the centre towards Deptford and Lewisham there are more large developments of new, purpose built flats. These are often within small complexes and estates, some with on-site gyms, and cost around £700PCM or more for a one-bedroom. There's very little in the way of houseshares or cheap accommodation in Greenwich as its predominantly a family type area. A double room in a flat share will cost upwards of £400 a month and most sharers will be 'young-professional twenty-something' types looking for quiet, non smoking renters.
People in Greenwich are generally families, commuters and young professionals. The experience of living in Greenwich would probably be pretty much the same as the experience of living in a suburb outside of London, except that people are in more of a rush. Unlike Acton, which has a lot of travellers, there are very few in Greenwich. At the bar you would probably run into city workers, or if you go to the right places, you might find some students too as Greenwich University is around the corner from the town centre.
Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment
The nightlife in Greenwich is fairly dull and your choice of pubs is limited as the town centre is so small. There are two Wetherspoons pubs, with cheap(ish) drinks, about £1.70 a pint and a younger crowd, mainly made up of students and football fans. Sometimes these have DJ's and can get quite loud. Unfortunately, there's only one place to go dancing in Greenwich and that's INCbar, which is kitsch in a very strange way. It's a nightclub come cocktail bar, so drinks are very expensive (£8 a drink) and there's a £5 entry fee too. The crowd here are mainly twenty-somethings and the place has an 'on the pull' vibe. The music isnít too great, so if you want to go dancing, you're better to go into central London and catch the night bus home.
There are several good daytime bars with gardens that are nice for a Sunday afternoon, such as Bar de Musee, The Mitre and Greenwich Bar and Grill but if you're looking for drunken debauchery, you've definitely come to the wrong place.
Parks and Recreation
If you like parks and outdoor attractions, then this is where Greenwich shines. Greenwich Park is one of the Royal parks like Hyde Park and Regents Park. It has lots of trees, rolling slopes, a playground, a kid's row boat pond, the Royal Observatory, tennis courts, a deer reserve and a few other bits besides. It's very beautiful, especially when the sun is shining. Blackheath Common is just around the corner (walk to the very top of the park and keep going), and in town there's a large open paved area where the Cutty Sark is dry-docked by the river, and there are some lovely views over the pier and of the docklands.
Shops, Restaurants and Takeaways
Shopping in Greenwich is difficult unless you have a car. Greenwich itself has no major supermarket although there's a Sainsbury's in Charlton and a Tesco in Lewisham. One of them is bound to be near you depending on where in Greenwich you live. The town centre has a few little shops including a a mini Somerfield for essentials, though it's overpriced. If you want to go really overpriced then there's a Marks and Spencer's simply food for those moments you feel like indulging. There's a Boots and Superdrug, but no clothes shops (for these you need to go to central London or Charlton).
Booze-wise there are plenty of bottle-filled corner shops. There's a good value Threshers with 3 for 2 on all wine and a Majestic's if you want to buy in bulk! Food wise there's not a lot of choices besides Subway, McDonalds and plenty of pizza and Indian takeaways. There are a few restaurants in town but they don't offer a very diverse range. There are about five Tex-Mex and Spanish restaurants, a Pizza Express and a few nice little restaurants dotted around just outside of town. A lot of the bars also serve food, like bistro style burgers etc.
Greenwich is on the edge of Zone 2 and has two stations: Greenwich and Cutty Sark. From Greenwich station you can catch a British Rail train to Charing Cross or Cannon Street. You can catch the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from both Greenwich and Cutty Sark stations which are a five minute walk apart. The DLR will take you round the Docklands to Bank or Stratford stations. This line is quite slow but very reliable. This cannot be said for the British Rail line which is frequently subject to heavy delays and frequent cancellations.
If you plan on commuting into London in the morning you'll want to arrive as early as possible in case a train is cancelled or delayed. Plus, so many people commute from Greenwich that trains are often so jam packed that people cannot get on so giving yourself a lot of time is a good idea. There are loads of bus routes however which is usually a less stressful way to get into central London, though beware of traffic. The trains out of London stop at around midnight, so you'd need to get the N1 night bus after that which stops at New Oxford St, Aldwych Road and Waterloo Bridge among other places.
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