You’re a brand new creative business and you need to find a cool workspace without blowing the budget – which means you might need to look beyond Shoreditch and Borough. Here’s our guide to alternative up-and-coming areas for creative space in London.
Last time the Mayor of London published figures on the capital’s creative jobs, there were 882,900 of them. Proportionally, you’ll find twice as many the number of creatives in London compared to the rest of the UK.
So, when it comes to deciding where to base your own London creative startup, you could argue it’s impossible to make a bad choice. Throw a dart at a map and, assuming it doesn’t land in the Thames, you’ll be in pretty good company.
Yet some areas seem to be particularly well suited to creatives. And whilst some have already gone from ‘up and coming’ to ‘definitely arrived’, with average rents reflecting the popularity of areas like Temple, Borough, Marylebone and Hoxton, others are still bubbling under. So how do you choose the right location for your creative office?
Here’s our guide.
What do people in creative roles want?
- Connections: Perhaps more than any other sector, it makes real sense for creatives to stick together, because with such a diversity of disciplines, it can be a real benefit to be able to wander across the corridor or nip across the street to meet with people who specialise in the illustration/content/VR/AR/AI services you can add to your own.
- Zone 1 & 2: Close enough to pop into the city for meetings; far enough out to swerve Central London rental rates. With the added bonus that travel costs don’t melt your Oyster card. We are seeing a gradual migration outwards from central areas of the city (see our Flex and the City report) but at current rates, it’ll be a good while yet before creatives are migrating too far.
- Natural light: A window. It’s not too much to ask is it, even in the smallest small office? True, you may pay less for a cubicle that never sees the light of day, but endless studies show natural light makes people happier, healthier (aiding sleep at night and focus during the day), more productive and more creative.
- ‘Third space’: Sounds sci-fi; in reality it’s simply a place for creatives to, you know, be creative. A common feature of creative office space design is the ability to break out and escape the Mac. You know how you always have your best creative ideas in the shower? It’s a similar concept, but with relaxation rooms, terraces, comfy sofas and coffee bars taking the place of the shower. Because holding a meeting in a shower would be weird.
- Amenities: A quirky spot for a quick lunch. A cool base for client meetings away from the office. A favourite haunt for Friday beers. The right creative office space isn’t just about the amenities offered by your landlord – it’s about the places on your doorstep that make it a place you want to work, and a place your clients are happy to visit.
So, where are the most up-and-coming areas in London for creative companies – places where you can find all of the above plus that inspirational, individual feel?
Up and coming areas in North London
Our choice: Camden
The cheaper alternative to: King’s Cross
Ok, so it’s a bit of a cheat to describe Camden Town as up and coming in terms of its popularity (it’s been popular for ages) – but it’s definitely up and coming in a business sense, and particularly so with with creatives (and especially fashion companies). Better still for startups, the average price of flexible creative office space fell by 6% in 2018 according to our latest Flex and the City report.
It’s become a bit of a cliché to label Camden laid-back or quirky. But it’s both of those things and more, and there’s a real joy to stepping out the office door and finding a place that has an authentic independent spirit. Camden and creatives really are a natural fit.
How to find office space for rent in Camden
LABS – Camden Atrium is smack in the middle of Camden Market and a 5-minute walk from the nearest underground station. And as it’s almost equidistant between Camden Town, Chalk Farm and Kentish Town, you effectively get your pick of three buzzing areas.
Also worth considering: Islington is booming, and a real favourite with emerging tech and fashion companies.
Up and coming areas in South London
Our choice: Southwark
The cheaper alternative to: London Bridge
South of the river can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to finding London office space at the right price. It’s growing in popularity fast, but the volume of office space needs to play catch up. Most creatives are basing themselves in Borough and Bermondsey (at the northern end of the district), but that means small office space comes at something of a premium, with Borough prices up 19% over the last year.
Instead, take a look at Camberwell (or Peckham next door). With the College of Arts, Goldsmiths College and the South London Gallery all close by, it’s a smart option if you’re looking to base yourself near fresh talent.
And from parks to eateries to cracking coffee, it’s no slouch in the great places to live and work department either.
Another point in the borough’s favour is the support it offers startup creative businesses in Southwark.
How to find office space for rent in Southwark
Camberwell Workspace or Market in Peckham are great value creative startup offices. South of the river, underground stations are a little harder to come by, but overground rail stations are just a few minutes’ walk away.
Also worth considering: Try popular Clapham and edgier Brixton.
Up and coming areas in East London
Our choice: Hackney Central
The cheaper alternative to: Shoreditch
Ever since Shoreditch became synonymous with impeccably groomed beards and extravagantly priced coffees, the search has been on to find the next one, offering similar cool without quite the same prices.
In fact, you don’t need to look very far. Shoreditch sits at the southern tip of the Borough of Hackney, which means there’s plenty of good value shared office space throughout the rest of the area that’s worth investigating. We’d suggest anything beginning with ‘Hackney’ (Hackney Downs, Hackney Wick, Hackney Central) as being a good bet.
How to find office space for rent in Hackney
Worklife – London Fields. Free pizza and beer on Thursdays, free yoga, exclusive events, discounts and everlasting coffee. Plus the delights of Broadway Market on your doorstep. For shared creative space, take a look at Plexal’s fixed and hot desks.
Also worth considering: Another Shoreditch alternative within the Hackney area: Dalston. If you’re a photographer, filmmaker or musician, base yourself here and you’ll feel like you’ve come home – the areas is full of them.
Up and coming areas in West London
Our choice: Hammersmith
The cheaper alternative to: Soho
There’s a reason Sky, GlaxoSmithKline, Cisco, SAP, Disney and many more have made Hammersmith (and Fulham) their UK base. It’s an attractive mix of easy transport links, great amenities and lots of supplier businesses and collaborators within easy reach.
But if you’re a creative business, there’s another reason basing yourself in Hammersmith makes sense. In a formerly unrented outlet in the Kings Mall is Made in H&F, a store dedicated to creatives who make. From fashion to art to ceramics and glassware, if your business needs a store, then basing yourself in Hammersmith gives you a readymade outlet.
How to find office space for rent in Hammersmith
Huddle – 3 Shortlands, a sort of creative’s wishlist made real, with its breakout areas, natural light, showers, cycle spaces and a barista café. Private and shared offices available.
Also worth considering: We’re pushing the Zone 1 & 2 rule (actually we’re flagrantly breaching it and wandering into Zone 3), but the Ealing Broadway area is home to some great value shared office space for London creative businesses.
Want to know more? Find more up and coming areas of London offering private and shared office space to suit your budget here – or search the whole flex market on our site now: