East v west for first time buyers

Hi all
Sorry in advance because I’m sure this will have been covered but I have had a really good search and can’t find anything recent.
Currently looking at getting on the market and have really fallen in love with Forest Hill - really like the high street, feel of the area and the gardens such as Horniman.

We’ve seen some flats which are top end of budget from Devonshire through to Overhill - clearly a very nice area. We’ve then also been looking around Rockbourne, old Stanstead, Sunderland Rd/Church Rise area. This area seems similar in feel - tree lined streets with beautiful old houses - but can tell from the prices and what we’ve heard that east of the station is almost a different area. I can understand the logic further into Catford or down towards Sydenham (not knocking them but it’s a different area and getting further away from Forest Hill) but for those areas so close to the station, is there much of a difference in terms of living there?

What are the surrounding streets - Beadnell/Garthorne, Brockley Rise, Brockley view like?

Really appreciate any help or experience from local residents!

Edit - sorry I didn’t add, but we’re mid twenties with no kids. Things important to us are being close to the station, high street and local pubs - resale (inevitably we’ll move, hopefully nearby, in 4/5 years so this first time buy is a stepping stone and don’t want to lose any value), but also obviously want to feel safe and secure. We’ve lived in Brixton/Elephant and Castle/London bridge so aware of how quickly areas can change road-to-road and that’s part of living in London which we don’t mind - but just wondering what the situation is within a 10 min walk radius of Forest Hill station)


We are on one of the roads off London Road near the Horniman. Our road is quiet and it feels very safe walking back at night (the only issue is it is a pretty steep walk and we are at the top!) we are within easy walking distance of the station, shops and bars and only a 30 min walk or short bus journey from Peckham, E Dulwich and Catford.

We don’t have a car so being near to the station was a important consideration.


Full disclosure I live in the area but I purchased a flat in Upper Sydenham, so just of Kirkdale. Was late 20s when bought there and had similar priorities as in walking distance to station (sydenham is marginally closer and walking along main road all the time so felt safe coming back late at night by myself). Then have choice of Forest Hill or Sydenham each weekend as both less than 10 mins walk. Also brings Crystal Palace into play. Couple of mins by bus or 20 mins walk through CP Park.
I think flat/house price differentials are sometimes more exaggerated than they should be. Particularly East and West of Station as you mention however would say area constantly evolving so shouldn’t be as large. Think one issue is as pedestrian limited places to cut across train line so does force people more into areas (or lengthen walk if want to cross the line).
Everyone’s experience is different where they are comfortable so can just suggest walking around at night :smiley:
I couldn’t afford FH prices at the time! Preferred Kirkdale area as still has useful amenities on door stop which couldnt find as much in Perry Vale area when I looked.

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I live about 20 minutes walk away from forest Hill station near to the border with Catford. I always feel safe walking home even late at night. I think most people would want to live near to the railway station. But I have a 20 minute walk to either Forest Hill or Catford Bridge. Personally, I find Forest Hill a very nice place to live. Some of the roads near me are technically in Catford and an estate agent told me he could not even get people to view them because they are in Catford.
It is good advice to look around the area, particularly at different times.

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I live on Sunderland Rd. Its a brisk 5 minute walk to the station or a lazy 10 minutes. To me the only difference to living either side is if you prefer walking uphill or downhill after a visit to the pubs on Dartmouth Rd.


Fully agree with Kirkdale area. We’re toward the Sydenham park area. You get forest hill and Sydenham and Crystal Palace and penge. It’s a bit more chill too.

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Thank you all very much for your replies and taking the time! Down towards Perry Vale/Sydenham/Mayow Park hadn’t really been on our list as our search started at the Horniman and grew outwards so still getting our head round the different areas. The thing was that we’d walked around the upper half of perry vale and then back through Sunderland Rd/Church Rise/Como Road/Kemble Rd area and liked the feel of it so were just trying to understand the price variance! Thanks again :slight_smile:

I’d also have a look at Honor Oak if you haven’t already. It’s got quite a genteel feel to it and the shopping parade has a bit of an urban village feel. Depending on what street you are on it’s also close to Forest Hill shopping area - I’m only 15 mins walk from Forest Hill station and 5 mins to HOP station.


We live 1 block north of Mayow Park and we really, really rate it. (Tbf we are a little older than you and do have 1, relatively new, child!). We are in SE23 but almost on the border of SE26, meaning we have both Forest Hill and Sydenham stations within a 10min walk. I actually like the fact we have options of going to either high street (pubs, cafes etc on Dartmouth Rd and then lots of ‘useful’ shops e.g. DIY store, optician, PFC etc on Sydenham High Street). We also aren’t far from Kirkdale - which I also love as an area - if you don’t have a pram ;-), you can easily head over the pedestrian footbridge that links Inglemere Rd/Sydenham Park.

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We live on the Horniman side of FH and I personally am really glad we live this side of the tracks.
During lockdown I regularly walked to Honor Oak, Peckham, Crystal Palace and of course East Dulwich (Lordship Lane shops)and Dulwich Village all very easy walks and I’m 60 years old!
I like the fact that we have Horniman Gardens ,Dulwich Park and Sydenham woods very nearby.
And of course Crystal palace park a little further afield
As you’re relatively young young I think you’d mainly be drinking in bars like the Sylvan Post, Watsons Telegraph and EDT-Even though we’re oldsters we really rate all 3 not so keen on Dartmouth Arms or the Signal though others may beg to differ.
Also going out you’d probably like to spend your evenings in Peckham and shoreditch Shorditch is only 20 mins on the overground.
Also when you do have little ones there are excellent primary schools in the Horniman gardens catchment area which probably has a baring on property prices as well as accessibility to bus routes at this side of FH

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Thought I’d comment as most people have been more FH side, and these are more Honor Oak side, where I live.

The roads Garthorne, Bovill, Whatman, Agnew etc are all very nice and have a great community feel - nice walking back from the station and close to the HOP high Street.

I would say Forest Hill is more bustling than HOP but both are easily within walking distance of each other, or a quick bus ride you’ll benefit from one or the other if you want to anyway.

As a parent of young children, my pub days (pre lockdown) are severely limited, but I’d say FH would be slightly better for this. That said you still have Chandos (who also do great pizza), The Honor Oak, The General Napier in close proximity, and a wine bar Ground and Grapes on the High Street and Donde who do beers also as well as Two Spoons by the station. HOP also has Babur which is a great place to eat out.

East Dulwich and Peckam are short trips away as well, as well as Crofton Park, Brockley.

In normal times I’d recommend you explore both areas via a pub crawl!

Good luck - you’ll be happy with either I’m sure.


Something to bear in mind is that whichever side of the tracks you settle on try to avoid property within earshot of the actual railway. The reason being is that you face regular disturbance from the intercity services from Brighton that thunder through Sydenham and Forest Hill at high speed every other hour. Personally, after renting here for two-and-a-half years I prefer the Horniman side. It’s more leafy but don’t, whatever you do, underestimate how steep some the hills are. The same goes for Upper Sydenham.


I’ve lived on Sunderland Road since the late 80’s and have been quite happy here. It has a nice mix of social and private housing as well as a mix of different property types and styles. Although the area comes under Perry Vale ward for local councillors it is most definitely Forest Hill as are Rockbourne Rd, Stanstead Rd, and Church Rise. As @Starman has already advised it is only a short walk to the station. In fact it’s probably closer to the station than many residential streets on “the other side” and certainly a lot flatter.There are 2 GP surgeries in the immediate area (the Jenner at the junction of Stanstead Rd and Brockley Rise and The Vale on Perry Vale) as well as dentists close to both GP practices. It is easy to get to Mayow Park and Sydenham on foot or a 75 bus from Perry Vale/Mayow Road or Crystal Palace on a 122 bus from Brockley Rise, Stanstead Rd or Waldram Park Road. And a 185 gets you to Catford/Lewisham in one direction or East Dulwich in the other.

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Oh Yes! The Hills!!!
Well at least they keep us fit although when it snows it can be ‘interesting’ making the downhill trip to the station!

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