I moved to Romford with my gf* in January, having lived in London for 8ish years. Reasons for moving here were that we could afford a 3bed house with a nice garden for the same price as a 1-2 bed flat in Sydenham where we lived (very happily!) previously and that her parents are 10mins away in Upminster. We plan to start a famalam in the next couple of years so wanted to buy somewhere with space now, rather than having to move again...
I cycle to Borough daily for work - no drama whatsoever, although the road surface could definitely be improved between Ilford and Stratford.
It definitely not the cultural capital of the south east but we are relatively happy here. We definitely crave the cosmopolitan-ness of London and do most of our socialising in London too.
We haven't really explored the area that much yet (although my gf knows it pretty well, having grown up in Goodmayes) as we have been head down on DIY. I am really keen for recommendations of nice, less chainy places to go for a drink/food if anyone has any.
Also keen to expand my social circle locally if anyone lives in the area and fancies a pint? I'm confident that it's an area that's on the up - I wouldn't have bought here otherwise.
*(For reference I'm 31, ,male and white and my gf is 28 and mixed race).