I read an article just before the new year that said the number of Londoners abandoning the Capital had hit a 10-year high. Apparently, almost 300,000 people left London in 2016.
The main objection was sky-high house prices but there were also mutterings about the unbearable pace, busy tubes and cost of living.
But I would argue that London is one of the most exciting places on earth to live, and when I have worked hard enough to afford it, I would like to buy in the City, or as close to it as I can.
1. Walk to work (and everywhere else)
I don’t walk to work, nor have I ever. I used to walk to school though so I’m sure that I could handle it 20 years on.
The problem is, for me to walk to work tomorrow would take about two-and-a-half hours each way. I live in Parsons Green, about a four-minute walk to the station and so sit on the District line commute for 18 stops before landing near my office in Aldgate. It’s just what we all do right?
The “more for your money” argument convinced that we should live outside of London only to commute in and out. No doubt, housing is more expensive in the City, the average sale price for a property in Zone 4 is £472,000, compared to £647,000 for somewhere within a 20 minute walk from The Gherkin.
But let’s look at the figures: if you only take the Tube, it costs £9.80 per day. Based on rising rail fares at 3%, over a 30 year career, your commute costs £120,000. And that is before the Uber home from Friday night drinks.
Moreover, assuming you’ll spend 80 additional minutes per day, waiting for, boarding or riding a train, there’s a monstrous 624,000 minutes spent commuting. That is 10,400 conscious hours or 650 days of your life.
2. It’s a foodie haven
The City and its immediate surrounds are brimming with cuisine from around the globe. There are classic restaurants, pop-ups and rooftop bars. Brunch is the new thing and nowhere does it better than the City.
For breakfast I like Morito’s great tapas and punchy Bloody Marys. At lunch you can’t go past Shoryu Ramen in Broadgate for authentic Hakata-style ramen – it’s always busy, but that’s London. As for dinner, Gul & Sepoy in Commercial Street has a great menu from two different regions in India. Try the snails with moong daal.
3. Great gardens
The Barbican is a bit grey, but hidden in the heart of the estate is an enormous conservatory that houses 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees. It’s open to everyone on Sunday. That trumps any 25-foot piece of lawn you might be desperate for in the Home Counties.
Another favourite is Postman’s Park, home to the famous Watts memorial, built in 1900 by Victorian painter and philanthropist GF Watts (1817-1904).
4. Rooms with a view
Tourists pay about £20 to take a lift up the Shard and ogle the City view. Some residents have it as a permanent feature. Just look at the shot from a flat in the Barbican’s Lauderdale Tower at the top of the story. Like a live piece of priceless artwork hanging on your wall. The best part is, it’s constantly changing. Soon we will have the Scalpel, the Trellis and many more to add to the list of London’s famous towers.
5. It’s so Instagrammable
London was the third most Instagrammed city in the world in 2017. In fact, it had a monumental 65 million more (941% more) posts than any other UK city.
Shoreditch street art (above) will give your feed some edge between food and meme posts. Columbia Road Flower Market will get maximum likes, then finish with a selfie in the Sky Garden (left) at the Walkie Talkie.
London is one of the most diverse places on earth, and I cannot think of anywhere where that comes together more perfectly than right here in the City.
Ben Ainsworth is a senior sales manager at Knight Frank Aldgate.