We bought (a 50% share in) our flat in Bethnal Green when the area was still an unremitting shithole. We moved from a worse shithole (Poplar) so it was a step up for us. Shoreditch was at the height of its hype, it was near Victoria Park, and Hackney was on the up, so we figured that Bethnal Green had to eventually get a bit of that trendiness as people were priced out of the surrounding areas. It took a while and was a very gradual process, but we were right and it is now a lot nicer to live there. Still can't afford to move anywhere else, mind you.
So that's what you do. Take a gamble on a dodgy area that has the potential to get nicer.
Or buy a real fixer-upper in a decent area. That's another gamble entirely.
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