It’s been a while since I wrote some London area guides – I haven’t been moving around that much, so East Finchley is actually the third place where I lived in London (and still live in 2020). So here’s a guide to living in East Finchley and in particular, Fortis Green area. We will talk about the safety, connectivity, going out, things to do and overall feel and atmosphere. Interested in what is it like to live in East Finchley? Read more to find out!
Here’s what you can expect to find in this post:
When and why did we move to East Finchley?
We moved to East Finchley from Elephant & Castle back in 2018, and I’m so happy we made this move. Some of the reasons for this move you can find in this post about living in Elephant & Castle.
I won’t discuss them further in this post, but it’s worth mentioning that I felt much safer in East Finchley. I’ve heard some really horrifying stories from our neighbours and concierge in Elephant & Castle and I had some unlucky experiences myself. Luckily, East Finchley is very different and not even once I felt not safe or avoided walking certain streets. Not even mentioning other benefits like charming streets, a lot of green spaces, a friendly community and a lot of places to go out. Let’s discuss them further in this post.
Living in East Finchley (Fortis Green area) – what is it like?
Some people say that you should only move to East Finchley if you decide to settle down, as the area is extremely “dull”. They also say that Muswell Hill (read my area guide to Muswell Hill as well) is posh and boring.
Honestly, I don’t agree at all. East Finchley has some excellent pubs like Bald Faced Stag and Old White Lion – nothing hipster and up and coming like public toilets converted into the bars in Bermondsey, but still an option if you want a drink in a nice environment. There’s also the famous Phoenix cinema that shows some pretty unique movies as well as the newest releases.
You can always take the tube and head to Camden Town, or Soho for great nightlife, as you have tube at your doorsteps – that works 24/7 on Friday and Saturday.
Since the lockdown started in London, we were very happy to be “stuck” in East Finchley with great shops nearby (Budgens is great), there is also a big M&S in Muswell Hill and you can also reach a huge Waitrose in North Finchley in 40-45 minutes walking. There are so many charming streets, beautiful houses and green spaces in East Finchley. If this area is dull then I don’t know what isn’t?
Going out in East Finchley: best restaurants, cafes, pubs and takeaways
East Finchley has a lot of restaurants – 4 Thai restaurants, 3 Italian restaurants, a fabulous French restaurant, Seafood restaurant Poseidon, a couple of Lebanese spots and even a Japanese restaurant. There are also quite a few Indian restaurants if you fancy spicy food! However, it’s in Muswell Hill, where you can find Franco Manca, The Real Greek, Weatherspoon, Bill’s and more, including a stunning steakhouse Miller & Carter, located in a former church.
All that just 15-20 minutes walking from you. There are also plenty of amazing restaurants in Highgate (Kampai and Cocoro are amazing Japanese restaurants). Of course, Soho or Spitalfields have more places to go out to and generally speaking, East Finchley lacks good places to go for a cocktail, but remember that it’s a zone 3 of London and a nice, safe and quiet residential area.
My favourite places for brunch are Dan & Decarlo and the Coffee Bank. Actually, Dan & Decarlo makes some of the best brunches I’ve tried in London. Also, if you fancy a sandwich for lunch, the Italian Deli on the crossing of High Road and Fortis Green makes amazing sandwiches.
Rent prices in East Finchley
One of the reasons why people live in East Finchley is the Northern Line and the fact that you can afford more for less. We used to rent a one-bedroom flat in Elephant and Castle for £1600 a month (in a new build), in East Finchley we pay £1670 for a newly refurbished 2-bedroom duplex with a huge rooftop terrace just 5 minutes away from the tube.
However, if you’re looking for a cheaper option, there are plenty here – you can find studios for as low as £900-1100 per month and 1-bedroom flats for £1200-1400 a month depending on the condition. It’s not as cheap as some other zone 3 places because of a great location, safety and the fact, that the neighbourhood has great infrastructure and is generally very pretty, clean and well-taken care on. But still, rent prices in East Finchley are great.
I’ve never seen any trash on the streets and the garbage collection service works like a clock. The only downside of living in East Finchley is the fact that the Council Tax is not low at all, so that would add up to your rent.
What about buying in East Finchley? How much is it to buy in East Finchley?
Unlike rental prices, the prices for buying a house (or an apartment) in East Finchley are far from low. If you want a detached house, have a sum of over a million pounds, while a terraced house would cost £700-800,000 depending on the condition. As for apartments, you can buy a one-bedroom apartment for about £330-400,000 depending on the location and condition. If you’re planning to buy in East Finchley, consider Fortis Green, as it’s one of the best streets to live in N2, however, if your windows are facing the street, it could be a bit noisy.
If you’re planning to buy on Bishops Avenue (or Billionaires’ row, how it is often called), you need at least £3-6 Million pounds. I haven’t ever seen any rental properties there, so not sure about the rental prices at all.
Read my post about how to save money in London: best tips and tricks >>>
Pros and cons of living in East Finchley
Like any district in London (and anywhere else, really) living in East Finchley has its pros and cons.
Pros of living in East Finchley
- You have the Northern line that splits into lines and goes to Soho and to King’s Cross/ Bank – it’s very convenient, especially if you work in any of these areas.
- You can even work in East Finchley – there are a couple of offices, including a big office of McDonald’s. There are some companies located in Finchley Central – that’s one stop away.
- Plenty of places to go out to – from restaurants to pubs.
- Excellent infrastructure – there’s a gym on Fortis Green (Manor Health) and there are 3-4 different Fitness studios and Yoga / Pilates classes. There’s also a huge ice skating rink in Alexandra Palace (20 min by bus or 40 min walking), a cinema and an NHS clinic (not a great one, unfortunately).
- Safety – East Finchley is very safe.
- A lot of green spaces and woods – e.g. Highgate Wood, Cherry Tree Wood, Coldfall Wood
- Amazing neighbouring areas – stunning Highgate (read my Highgate area guide) and Muswell Hill (read my Muswell Hill Area guide)
Cons of living in East Finchley
- The property prices, in case you’d be willing to buy – they are just too high!
- Location – East Finchley is located quite far from the city centre – in case tube fails, you need 2 buses to get to your work (or maybe more) and that would take over an hour. If your work is in West London, for example, it will take ages to commute every day.
- It’s on a hill – unless you own an e-bike, cycling uphill will be very tough!
- Lack of a good big gym chain – there’s a gym on Fortis Green (closer to Muswell Hill), but East Finchley definitely lacks its own gym e.g. Anytime Fitness or PureGym.
Best things to do in East Finchley
Even though we briefly talked about some of the best things to do in East Finchley, I just wanted to sum them up here for your convenience.
Explore the ancient woods of East Finchley, Muswell Hill and Highgate
This area of North London has a lot of amazing ancient woods that have been around since the Roman times. My favourite is the Coldfall wood, however, I also love Highgate Wood and Cherry Tree Wood.
Go for a walk to Alexandra Palace and see the stunning panorama of London
Another great thing to do in East Finchley is just about 40 minutes walking away – and that’s Alexandra Palace. Alexandra Palace has an ice-skating rink, a stunning park and overall, it’s a place, where you can see a lot of fairs and concerts.
Walk along the Billionaires row – Bishop’s Avenue
Very few people know that one of the most expensive streets to live in the world is located nearby and connects East Finchley with Hampstead Heath. There is actually a stunning interactive map with the stories about many of the houses on this street, make sure to check it out!
Walk to Hampstead – another stunning area of London
In 40-45 minutes, you can walk to Hampstead – another stunning area of North London and one of the leafiest areas to live in the city. However, Hampstead is just stunning to walk around and explore.
Explore Hampstead Garden Suburb
Don’t confuse Hampstead Garden Suburb with Hampstead – these are two different places. Hampstead Garden Suburb is a quiet residential area that has a lot of parks and playing grounds. I spotted a stunning place there – just next to the Lynton playing fields.
Take photos of the best Cherry blossoms and Wisteria blossoms in North London
Very few people know about stunning magnolia, cherry and wisteria blossoms all around North London. I have seen so many blossoming trees around the area and I’m sure you’ve seen them earlier in the post as well. I can’t name you any locations, as these trees are pretty much everywhere around East Finchley, Highgate and Muswell Hill.
Explore the private streets on the way to Golder’s Green
Another interesting activity is to explore the semi-private streets on the way to Golders Green. I call them semi-private because even though everybody can walk there, you will be pretty much followed by the private security guards. However, you can enjoy the walk and see some stunning houses and cars.
Summary of what is it like to live in East Finchley: is it a good neighbourhood?
Overall, I really like living in East Finchley – it has this nice village feel. In winter, it smells like burnt wood and in spring and summer, everything blooms and Fortis Green is just so pretty. You can reach Highgate Wood in 20 minutes and Hampstead Heath in about 35-40 minutes walking. There are always places to explore and discover and it’s really well connected because of the Northern Line. If I were to buy a property, I’m not 100% sure if I were to stay in the area though – it’s simply too expensive, even if your household income is over £100,000!