I bought my Croydon flat on Instagram

By - Thursday 6th October, 2016

Hunting for a new home in outer London, Maddie Duxbury took a look through the eyes of its inhabitants

Croydon street art.
Photo by the Dotmasters, used with permission.

Okay, the title is not entirely true… but allow me a little journalistic licence for my first Croydon Citizen article.

So whilst I didn’t physically purchase my first property through the world’s fastest growing social media channel, the most crucial of property buying decisions (where to buy!) was largely made a result of scrolling through those little square boxes.

For those new to Instagram (I despise/admire your rejection of the digital world in equal measure), it’s the app that offers a ‘simple way to capture and share the world’s moments’. And despite over 500 million users, there still seem to be plenty of moments that require capturing and sharing.

Instagram became my guide to the outer London property market

Now to the house-hunting. As a certain TV programme will testify, when it comes to buying property, location (location, location) is key, and mine was habitually London Zone Two. But as a first time buyer, I found myself banished from my familiar surroundings and sent off into the wilds of the more affordable outer boroughs (nowadays referred to as ‘the doughnut’, possibly to try and sweeten the deal).

It had quickly become apparent that a ‘last appointment of the night’ viewing with an agent and a quick drink in the pub to ‘get a feel of the area’ were not going to be enough research on which to base a significant financial decision. My weekends became taken over by trips to the doughnut. Too often, the descriptions I’d been offered turned out to be worthy of a Pulitzer prize: a property on a side street that housed a charity shop and a branch of New Look was described as being in a ‘fashion district’. A high street that offered a Nandos and a Pizza Express was sold as a ‘destination for foodies’. Finally (and this was my favourite) a neighbourhood with three pubs hosting karaoke nights was apparently ‘ideal for music lovers’.

But we’d not survived the London rental market this long to give up and go home just as we scraped together enough deposit to get our feet on that elusive property ladder. We realised that our quest to discover the most important of neighbourhood attributes would have to be done differently.

East Croydon quickly became my visual home

Crucial questions needed to be answered before a location could be selected. Where can prepare a flat white at record speed as I (inevitably) run late for my morning train? Where can I sweat out weekend (ok, Tuesday) excesses? Where can I shop for food at 10pm? Where can I enjoy a beverage on a rooftop/by a fireplace (delete as seasonally appropriate)? Where can I go to meet new people who will welcome a stranger with the mixture of friendliness, suspicion and mild disdain that city dwellers find comfort in?

For answers to these crucial questions, I turned to Instagram. And as I ‘investigated’ (if such a term can be applied to a geo-location and hashtag search) potential neighbourhoods of choice, East Croydon quickly became my (visual) home.

@Croydonist @HelloCroydon @InstaCroydon @Croydon, @CDNZine @CroydonPhotos @ThisIsCroydon and @KidCronx gave me a better tour of a neighbourhood than any professional guide could have.

@RISEgallery, @CroydonArtSchool @DavidHollier @TurfProjects and @CroStreetArt showed me the street art scene the area was fast becoming known for.

@MatthewsYard gave me a feel for the sort of new interests I might take up.

@lostformatsociety got me excited for a summer outdoor cinema and all day rooftop parties.

@InspiredHomes gave me a glimpse of the home life I could have – a life of Elka wood flooring, Bosch appliances and rooftop views.

@TMRW and @TheExchangeWorkspace made me consider a work life within the growing start-up community.

@BoxparkCroydon left me hanging for a while as to the eighty new eateries it would be adding the neighbourhood but gave me plenty of inspiration via its @Boxpark Shoreditch account to assure me my tastebuds would be fully catered for. In the meantime, looking at @EatCroydon and @CroydonFoodFest gave me confidence that there were plenty of other outlets to make the most of.

@evolceldd @hlpcroydon and @lendandtend showed me that community spirit was alive and well in the Cronx.

@centralecroydon confirmed my high street favourites were all present and correct while @croydoncandleco and @updateNo8 gave a feel of what the local independents had to offer.

The camera never lies, and Instagram didn’t either

So whilst the cynics out there may write off Instagram as a place for the selfie obsessed generation, I can assure you, photo sharing can be just as time saving as it is time wasting. What better way to explore a new neighbourhood that through the eyes of its inhabitants? And whilst an array of filters might enhance the look, ultimately, the camera never lies and three months in, settled into my new home and neighbourhood, I’m happy to report Instagram didn’t either.

So I too have joined the Croydon Igers community and you can now find me at @EastCroydon, capturing and creating cool in the Cronx to help show other first time buyers how much this town has to offer.

Maddy Duxbury

Maddy Duxbury

Having moved to London at 19, Maddy has lived both north and south of the river (with a 6 month stay in Spain and a year working in Argentina providing some well needed vitamin D). When not working in PR and comms, she can be found staring longingly at travel guides in bookshops or eating & drinking her way through London's latest haunts before trying to reduce the collateral damage in a lido.

More Posts

  • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

    Hi Maddie,

    Welcome to the neighbourhood, and to The Croydon Citizen :)

    This is a brilliant, brilliant article – really cool to see how you used Instagram to make such an important decision and now document your time here. Glad to hear the camera hasn’t lied – I hope others check out your feed and also make the jump here!

    • Madeleine Duxbury

      Thanks Jonny. Great to hear this from one of Croydon’s most influential residents!

  • Martin Skinner

    Delighted to hear you’re enjoying Croydon and your new Inspired Home Maddy – brilliantly written article by the way and thanks for all the great twitter links !!

    :) Martin

    • Madeleine Duxbury

      Thanks Martin, and thanks for sharing!

  • Andrew Dickinson

    Welcome to Croydon Maddy. Look forward to meeting you in the round
    @greencroydon @croyurbmush @WandlePark @CRSummerofLove

    • Madeleine Duxbury

      Thanks Andrew, looks like some great new Croydon channels for me to start following!

  • Anne Giles

    Welcome Maddy, from an Anglo-Argentine. Interested to hear what you thought of Argentina!

    • Madeleine Duxbury

      Thanks Anne! It’s a beautiful country, I was based in Buenos Aires: fascinating city. :)

  • Andrew

    Hi Maddy, Andrew from @eatscroydon here! Thanks for the hat tip. We have such similar instagram names I think a collaboration is in order.

    • Madeleine Duxbury

      Sounds like a great idea Andrew! I’ll be in touch…