House Hunter: London

Can we afford to live in Camden Town?
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The Independent Online

The problem

The problem

REBECCA GRANGE OF LONDON WRITES: My partner and I are looking to buy our first flat together. He has owned a number of properties in the past but all outside of central London, and I haven't bought a property before but have spent the last four years living in north London.

We would like some advice about whether we can get what we want for our money in our chosen area - Camden Town. Despite my father's mild obsession with buying in Southwark ("I'm telling you now, it's up and coming") we are both keen to live in Camden because of the lively atmosphere, bars, shops and excellent transport links. As my partner works in Reading and I work in Docklands, the location seems to be a good compromise for us both.

I've lived in Kentish Town and Tufnell Park before and would consider looking there, but being a Camden girl at heart, it would be great to be closer to Camden itself, though not tripping over tripping teenagers on our doorstep.

We need a flat with two bedrooms, one for us and one that can be used as a study and a bedroom when my partner's daughter comes to stay. We need a parking space or room for residents' parking, and it would be great if we could find a property in our price range with some outdoor space like a balcony or roof terrace. Our budget is £270,000 and we don't want to buy an ex-local authority property. Is all of this possible? Please help.

The advice

KATY POWNALL REPLIES: On paper your request might seem like a tall order - certainly many of my initial enquiries to estate agents in the area were received with incredulity. If you were prepared to compromise on either the parking (making do with a parking permit for around £100 per year) or the outside space, your search would be far more rewarding. However, properties meeting all of your criteria do exist, but they aren't easy to find. You are going to have to do a lot of legwork and be able to move quickly.

Camden is a very popular "middle market" in London. While central and benefiting from excellent transport links, it offers cheaper property prices than nearby Regent's Park or St John's Wood. Other benefits include a plethora of shopping, eating and drinking venues, a well-known market, continuous inward investment and a lively atmosphere. Prices start at around £150,000 for a studio apartment, rising to between £200,000 and £300,000 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Much of the architecture in Camden is Victorian which makes for beautiful apartment conversions, though very few of these will come with a parking space. There is also plenty of new build around and these offer a better chance of meeting your needs, certainly with respect to parking. Although you have ruled out ex-local authority property, there is a stack of it in Camden and it is very competitively priced.

You want a lot for your money, so you might be better looking in the area to the east of Camden Town. You state that you have no objections to living in Kentish Town or Tufnell Park and your budget will certainly go further there. I have selected three properties that meet all or most of your requirements. This should reassure you that your ideal property is out there.

The solution

Property one: A two- bedroom apartment on Baynes Street, Camden Town, NW1.

Price: £265,000.

Agent's details: Situated out of Royal College Street in a modern development adjacent to the Grand Union Canal, the property is a short walk from the Underground station and the shops, cafés and markets of Camden Town. This self-contained upper maisonette benefits from its own roof terrace and off-street parking space.

Agent: McHugh & Co, 020-7485 0112,

Property two: A two-bedroom apartment on Camden Road, N7.

Price: £189,950.

Agent's details: Situated just over the border from NW1, this property is situated 15 minutes from Camden Town within easy reach of Tufnell Park/Holloway. Recently modernised, the flat is on the ground floor of a period property and has wooden floors. It also has off-street parking.

Agent: Saffron Estate Agents, 020-7424 9774,

Property three: A two-bedroom house on Rossendale Way, NW1.

Price: £249,950 (76 per cent shared ownership).

Agent's details: A two-bedroom house in Elm Village with a conservatory and private back garden. The house is arranged over two floors and is ideally placed for access to the canal towpath and all the amenities of Camden Town. Parking is available on the street.

Agent: Stickley & Kent / Copping Joyce, 020-7267 2053,

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