So, here’s an itty-bitty confession- I kind of want to move to London after my time in Paris is up. In nearly every way, it’s the perfect city for me at this point in my life: large, vibrant and nightlife-filled, located in Western Europe, and oh, yeah- I could get a real job due to the common language thing. Plus… boys with posh English accents live there. Love.

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So during my time exploring the city for two days I ventured into several residential neighborhoods in order to scope out a place where I might want to live. You know, just in case.

Camden

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Camden is funky. Camden is colorful. Camden is probably the only neighborhood I could somewhat afford in Central London.

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The one-time home of Amy Winehouse, Camden is a trendy, canal-centered neighborhood where plenty of hipster thrift shops, markets and boozy nightlife can be found.

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After exploring the main streets, I headed to the eclectic Camden Lock Market for some market shopping and street food. Okay, and some Starbucks.

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While the market was wonderful, most of the stalls were closed and it was a bit dead- we would’ve been better off coming on the weekend or in the summer.

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London6 But still, hipster tee-shirts, Chinese dumplings and vintage cameras abounded… what’s not to like?

Well, a few things actually. While Camden was definitely worth the visit, it was a little too grungy, industrial and tree-less for me. I didn’t like it enough to set up a permanent residence there but I would certainly visit again.

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The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

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Okay, okay. I didn’t say I was only looking for realistic neighborhoods, did I? Because let’s be honest- Kensington is way out of my league.

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Kensington and Chelsea is a posh London neighborhood that outstrips “well-to-do”- it’s effing loaded.

As we walked past tasteful luxury cars and perfectly trimmed boxwoods, I imagined my life there- a cup of imported Mariage Freres tea for breakfast, a stroll with my Airedale terrier, a fireside Jane Austen fix in my private library. Delusions of grandeur quickly filled my head as I constructed my life in a modern-day Downton Abbey.

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Have I mentioned recently I feel I would make an excellent ambassador’s wife? IMG_3165

But suddenly I snapped back to reality- although I may secretly wish otherwise, I definitely cannot afford a Kensington address.

Verdict? A beautiful neighborhood but not a place where my 22-year old backpacker self would fit in quite yet.

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Notting Hill

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Out of all of the neighborhoods I visited, Notting Hill was my favorite. It stole my heart even before I delved into its numerous antique shops and bookstores, and snapped photos of its whimsical, pastel-colored buildings. From the moment I exited the subway, I could sense a happy, wholesome energy there.

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I loved everything about it: the cherry trees, the antiques sold on the street, the warmly colored London stock bricks, the friendly shop-keepers.

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There was even a charming coffee shop on Portobello Road where I tasted some passable espresso, which made me want to tap on the nearest colorful door and move right in.

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My new local? Yes, please.

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By the end of the hour we spent in Notting Hill I was already smitten.

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So, it’s not hard to guess- Notting Hill was the clear winner for my dream London neighborhood. But there’s so much more of London to explore, and so many neighborhoods I haven’t even seen yet. So please, enlighten me, what’s your favorite neighborhood in London?

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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21, traveled the world for a year and now lives in Denver. She's usually in pursuit of skiing, languages and perfectly ripe cheese. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
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