Where do you live near London? Or where would you want to live? And why?
My family will be moving to London in September 2012. My husband will be going to graduate school near Regent's Park and working near Victoria. We have 5 children who will be between the ages of 2 and 8. We'd be looking for 3+ bedrooms and maybe a bit of garden. Hoping to live somewhere that we could survive without a car - close to shops, parks, schools - although we might buy an old car to use as needed. My husband would be commuting by bike or public transport and we'd like to keep his trip under 45 minutes one way. We have family living in Marlybone and while we can't afford that neighborhood, we don't want to be on the opposite side of the city either. Any ideas?
Pretty much everywhere in and around London is close (walking distance, even with toddlers!) to shops/parks/schools.
I think a good start for you would be to check out what is within budget on http://www.rightmove.co.uk/ - you can input an area, such as Regent's Park, then increase the radius within which to search until something comes within your price range (you can specify budget too, of course). The maps then show you how close the primary and secondary schools are.
The Tube Map http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/standard-tube-map.pdf will help you see where's where, though it can look a bit misleading, e.g. Wimbledon and South Wimbledon look miles apart on the map, but in reality, they are not very far from one another.
There are also trains that go to Victoria, that aren't represented on the Tube Map, you could look that up and see what a reasonable commute would be, then look there.
For commuting to Victoria, I'd look around Wimbledon, Richmond, and expand your radius until you get a price you are happier with. Wimbledon and Richmond aren't cheap, though they are very lovely, but areas around them, such as Colliers Wood, Tooting, Southfields, are cheaper, and close to Central London, as well as being close to the bigger towns of Richmond or Wimbledon. If you are wanting to be a bit further out, Barnes is fabulous, really gorgeous, on the river, or Putney, or Fulham. Further yet, typical commuter belt, would be Windsor, Egham, Virginia Water, Chertsey, though anything in the South West is on the pricier side of things. Ashford (Middlesex, not Ashford Kent) and Staines might be a bit cheaper. Staines is on the river, but for some reason doesn't have quite the allure of Richmond or Barnes. Clapham is great too, it has a common (big green fieldy area) and is a main hub for the trains, so good to get out and about.
Chiswick is truly wonderful, I would have loved to have lived there. Ealing is nice.
I don't think you can judge a place online though, I'd have to go and get a feel for the place.
MaverickMother has great answers.
Some of the tools I have used are NetMums (just enter the area you're interested in and you'll find mums who are asking about those areas, whether for schools or housing or transportation).
This is a fantastic website for commuting: http://www.commuterguide.co.uk/ It gives an overview, pros and cons, about each station on each railway line out of london. You just choose the station you want to arrive at and work out from there. It gives season ticket prices and everything.
I've used every real estate site in the UK! My favorites are nestoria for easily narrowing my search to my budget and number of beds, and rightmove because you can draw a search area.
Will you homeschool? Because the school choice will drive your choice of area, for sure. The whole school choice thing in London is astounding!
I am looking at getting into ********* St., so haven't done much research in the areas either of you mention. But, wrymother, I have a Danish friend here where I live who spent a year living in Windsor and really loved it. And I come across Richmond all the time in my researches.
We moved to the area of Wandsworth between the Commons. My husband has a very short commute (Clapham Junction into Victoria) and my son got into a wonderful state school, Belleville. The rents are high but this a lovely place to raise children. I just need to get out and find some friends for my 1-year-old and myself!