We bought a flat in Devonshire Road last year, and having previously lived in Edinburgh and Cardiff I can tell you SE23 is absolutely one of my favourite places I’ve ever lived.
Some people will argue between HOP and Forest Hill, but I’m exactly halfway between both so both high streets are exactly a ten minute walk from my front door.
Our flat is on the railway side of Devonshire Road, so in terms of positives: our (shared) garden is really large, and that garden then backs onto the nature reserve. Most days during lockdown I can sit in my garden and hear nothing but the birds and (sometimes ducks). I would imagine most of the buildings on this side of the road are similar given how large the nature reserve is.
The downside is sometimes people use Devonshire as a rat run but to be honest that doesn’t bother me too much, I only tend to use my car once a week to go to Bell Green Sainsbury’s or the cat’s annual vet checkup.
HOP is a nicer high street than FH (personal opinion): it’s more villagey and doesn’t have the south circ running through it and also has regular buses to Surrey Quays, Brixton and Lewisham with the buses to Aldwych at the end of the road. Some really nice little cafes and restaurants.
Forest Hill has more going on (WHSmith, Boots, Superdrug, more bars, bigger Sainsbury’s) but obviously there’s the traffic. And of course, both areas are on the East London line. And if you live in between both of them then you’ve got easy access to all of it.
I can’t speak to schools as I’ve got no children, but there’s a friendly family vibe around the whole area, the Horniman is a 10 minute walk from my front door, there are plenty nearby parks and outdoor spaces, well served for shopping, good transport links.
Honestly, one year in and despite the lockdown I wouldn’t swap SE23 for the world. Sometimes I sit in my garden and listen to the birds and it’s hard to imagine sometimes that I’m in inner London.