I like it because I have a quiet parade of shops I can walk to in sub 2 minutes with a good butcher, a cash point and somewhere to get food. A very strong community/neighbourhood spirit, and all our neighbours seem to be lovely. A decent turkish supermarket (and restaurant) within 2 mins riding distance, a very good local pub and strong transport links when I'm not feeling like riding anywhere.
On the bike it's half an hour into town one way and half an hour to the top of Beddlestead the other. Peckham/Nunhead/Hither Green are near enough for zero-hassle seeing friends, Bromley (bleurgh) is near enough for shopping-shopping (and as awful as it is, it has some redeeming features).
It's rough around the edges in a non-threatening, nobody-cares-too-much kind of way. The residents and council are aware of its failings, but there's a strong desire to improve, and everyone I've met through the Catford Canteen/residents groups/pub loves the area.
Yeah the South Circular goes right through the middle of it, but on the roads off that things get very quiet, very quickly, with big houses and hidden greens. Plus everybody else in London thinks the area's awful, so you end up with people that actually want to be there.
Something like that, anyway. I like it because I'm there and I have to, but day-to-day I encounter few reasons not to.