Living in Wimbledon
By Liam Barrell
Famous for its annual tennis tournament, Wimbledon certainly has a lot to offer potential residents. Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Tim Henman aside, the area has great rail and tube links to central London and Surrey. Wimbledon is a huge area in the London borough of Merton, consisting of Wimbledon, Wimbledon Village, South Wimbledon and Wimbledon Chase, all of which are in easy reach of each other by foot or by public transport. The town centre has undergone somewhat of a facelift recently, with many new apartments and shops built in the last six or seven years.
You can find every type of accommodation imaginable somewhere in Wimbledon. The village boasts custom built mansions and penthouses, while South Wimbledon is home to a housing estate, tower blocks and maisonettes. Somewhere in between there's a great renter's market with plenty of decent accommodation. Short of being a millionaire or perhaps a successful tennis player, Wimbledon Village is usually out of the question as far as affordable housing is concerned; but by all means look because occasionally a flat may be privately let priced beneath the local rates and it's one of the nicest areas of London to live in.
Flats and houseshares in central Wimbledon are far more affordable, and generally considerably cheaper than those found in nearby Putney. A large array of new apartments are available for those who are keen to spend a few extra pounds on a fashionable, modern property - though the price increase between new and old flats is sometimes quite steep. South Wimbledon is where the cheapest accommodation can be found, though the area has a slightly rougher feel than Wimbledon town centre. Don't be scared off however, the borough of Merton has one of the lowest crime rates in London.
'WimbleDurban' as it's affectionately known is home to a huge community of settlers (both short and long term) from the southern hemisphere. There's a massive South African representation in the area, resulting in lively weekend nightlife. The area's English residents are mainly young professional tenants and family orientated homeowners. 'The Village' (posh area at the top of Wimbledon Hill) plays host to millionaires, celebrities and those living the 'Playboy' lifestyle who swan around swanky bars wearing sunglasses indoors.
South Wimbledon is a genuinely multicultural area, housing a lot of North African and Polish immigrants who provide a great deal of the local workforce. With a real mix of residents Wimbledon has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere to travellers. Wherever you're from you'll find friends from nearby and meet people from cultures a million miles from your own.
Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment
Wimbledon has a real mixture of evening venues and certainly provides a lively weekend, though party animals may be disappointed that it's somewhat quiet during the week. There are a few clubs and loads of bars, all varying in price and presentation. Wimbledon's Saffa/Aussie/Kiwi population make up a large percentage of its revellers and are represented by a Walkabout on the high street and a great little South African bar and grill in South Wimbledon.
For a traditional English pub, The Rose and Crown in Wimbledon Village dates back to the 16th century and provides a reasonably priced bar menu. Across the road is the Dog and Fox, which although a haunt of celebrities and rich professionals still provides a welcoming atmosphere to your average Joe. Just 10 minutes on the train takes you to Kingston, home to a couple of massive 'superclubs' and a whole host of cheap bars- though the area is slightly more partial to drunken brawls and football songs than Wimbledon.
For those of you not keen on joining alcoholics anonymous anytime soon, Wimbledon has some other attractions, including a relatively new 12-screen cinema, two theatres, a swimming pool, several reasonably priced gyms and a greyhound racing track in case you fancy a flutter.
Parks and Recreation
Home to the Wombles, Wimbledon Common with its woodland, windmill, tearoom and lake provide a relaxing and quiet day out. For the more active, Wimbledon Park provides water sports, playing fields, tennis courts and mini golf. Being on the outskirts of London, Wimbledon actually has quite a lot of parks and green space - great for the summer, if a little crowded when the weather is nice.
Shops, Restaurants and Takeaways
Centre Court shopping centre holds most of Wimbledon's shops bar a few expensive clothes boutiques in the village. The big high street names are mostly there, but the choice isn't as good as in nearby Kingston or Croydon. For food there's a Sainsbury's supermarket as well as the more luxurious Marks and Spencer, and due to its multicultural community there's some great Biltong about along with delicious Saffa, Polish and eastern groceries.
The Broadway and Wimbledon Village have a variety of restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world. The Fire Stables in the village has a great (if pricey) menu, while if you're on a budget some of the pizza places in town are considerably cheaper. Wimbledon has two late opening Subway sandwich bars and a late opening Burger King, as well as some decent kebab shops on the way to South Wimbledon. There's not actually a great deal of takeaways around the town centre (and no takeaways in the village) but that isn't really a bad thing.
Wimbledon rail station provides an extremely useful and speedy service to Clapham Junction (about ten minutes) and Waterloo, with trains running very regularly. Wimbledon station also has trains to Surrey and a tram service to Croydon (great for shopping). The district line also runs from Wimbledon station, though it's actually pretty crappy if you want to go into the city. It really takes (or seems to take) forever. A better idea is to take the northern line from South Wimbledon (The two stations are approximately fifteen-twenty minutes walk apart), trains from here take about thirty minutes to the West End and the City of London. Buses to and from Wimbledon are also useful, with two regular night bus services (N87 and N155) running to and from central London all night.
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