Every time I fly to the UK, I leave wishing we had just a few more days. Even if you can’t stay for the rest of your life, if you retire near London for just 3-6 months, you could pretty much see everything that interests you. Take Greenwich, a suburb just east of London. (Pronounced Gren-ich) A World Heritage Site, the National Maritime Museum, The Old Royal Naval College, and the Cutty Sark, Greenwich is where you’ll find the Prime Meridian of the world. Every place on earth is measured from here!
Greenwich only 5 miles from central London and is accessible by the Docklands Light Railway and local busses. There is also a motor ferry up the Thames River to the city. London is not cheap. I found a one bedroom furnished flat in Greenwich in the $1,700 US a month range but if you look outside the city, the prices drop considerably. Furnished short-term flats generally include utilities and if you decide you’d like to rent – make sure the parking is included, but you really don’t need a car in London.
Greenwich means “Green Village” and was settled in 1427 when a Henry V’s brother built Bella Court Palace and enclosed two hundred acres of Greenwich Park. The property was an escape from the filth (and smell!) of old London and a frequent get-away for the nobility. Anne Boleyn gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I at Bella Court. At the dock you will find the clipper ship “Cutty Sark” which is now a museum about the heyday of shipping. Built in 1869, she was the fastest ship in the world bringing tea from China and wool from Australia.
Aside from being so close to London, Greenwich is an interesting town in itself with the huge museums and points of history. There are elegant homes, wonderful restaurants and local pubs. The Trafalgar Tavern (1837) is still standing and was a favorite of Charles Dickens. On a recent visit, I spent hours in the many bookstores, galleries and antique shops downtown. The Greenwich Market is full of stalls and shops with vintage clothing, collectors, milliners, street food, art and everything else. The Woolwich Market is where locals shop for fruits, vegetables and flowers. If you are at all into art, you must see the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College. It just took my breath away!
If I was going to retire near London, Greenwich would be worth considering. It’s close to the city, yet far enough away to be out of the major traffic. Even for just a couple of months.