In Search of the City Idyll

London city idyll

Finding Your Rural Retreat Within Metropolitan London  

There’s no need to choose between the convenience of the city or the peace of the countryside. Find your ideal city idyll for the best of all worlds.  

In years gone by, there were many city workers who longed for the peace and quiet of the English countryside with its open green spaces, independent shops and friendly market places. To live in that kind of environment, however, meant trading the convenience of the city for a two hour commute at each end of the day, and for most, it was an impractical dream.

For those in the know, however, it has always been possible to get the best of both worlds. Hampstead estate agents offer a range of properties that have all the advantages of rural living, yet are only 10 minutes from the city. The surrounding suburbs, such as Highgate and Muswell Hill, offer similar benefits, but without the Hampstead price tags. You really can have it all, so why not go in search of your city idyll? Here are some of the locations that need to be on your shortlist.


This is the village that practically invented the notion of the city idyll. The tree lined streets are full of established houses in mature gardens, the friendly marketplace seems in keeping with a Cotswolds market town and as you take a walk across the famous Hampstead Heath you would think yourself a world away from the nation’s capital. Until, that is, you look up and see the London skyline just four miles away.

You can be in the West End in just 10 minutes, but if you want a night out, Hampstead has plenty to offer in its own right. For such a high-end neighbourhood, where the rich and famous live on every street, it will come as no surprise that there is a good choice of fine dining restaurants, offering every type of cuisine. But there are also plenty of independent cafes and family run pubs, selling affordable fare.


Highgate is just to the east of Hampstead, and is another area that has enjoyed many famous residents over the years. Pay a visit, and you can immediately see why. It has the same village-like atmosphere as Hampstead, perched on a hill, where the narrow road twists between historic homes, village pubs and the obligatory church.

Highgate is still not cheap, but it is not as expensive as Hampstead. Does that make it the “poor relation?” Not according to this poll by the Sunday Times, which caused something of a stir when it rated Highgate above Hampstead in its list of the top places to live in the country.

Muswell Hill

You might think, then, that the city idyll is attainable, but only if you have a seven figure budget. Think again. The gentrification of North London has put the emphasis on local community facilities and green space, meaning city living has never been better. Muswell Hill is a perfect example of how anyone can find their city idyll.

The neighbourhood exudes traditional English charm, with its village green, cafes, antique shops and pubs. Alexandra Park is right on the doorstep, and you can spend hours exploring its 80 hectares in peace and quiet.

Best of all, there is a great choice of two bedroom properties available in the sub £500,000 bracket. Why would you choose to live anywhere else?

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