LETTER FROM LONDON: Bowl of cereal for €6, plus a home for €95 million!


GIVEN the diversity of boroughs that make up London, many residents nowadays see little difference between a man or woman in tribal dress of Peshawar or Qatar and a punk with glue in their hair and a bone through the nose!

All might be odd to many, but then I probably appear somewhat ‘square’ to them in a dark suit, neat hair, and polished shoes.

Meanwhile some around claim that God is with them. Hari Krishna and all that stuff still ping about Oxford Street from time to time.

Of course London is challenging for anyone who visits from more rural parts of the UK.

Housing has always been a local issue. The city eats people alive and has done for centuries.

The war – now more than 70 years ago – took out housing stock and it was the ´60s before that bump was overcome, followed by the housing bubble of the ´70’s and the social housing sell off during the 80’s and 90’s.

Of course no one publicly ever admits the downstream cost of mass immigration.

Some say London ‘grew’ by 500,000 souls last year, and not all are from overseas.

But outside the British capital, the UK is truly another place.

Wealthy UK is moving back into the city too, as conditions are so much improved. In addition to eclectic shops, galleries, restaurants and much more, there is a hipster economy.

One café in the trendy areas east of the Tower of London offers specialised breakfast cereals. It may charge £5 (€6) per bowl, but it’s a rare mix and definitely not Kellogg’s, and part of normal city life that provides multi-cultural options, with good Arabica coffee, whatever the cost, too good for many to miss.

London’s West End after the war became mainly office space but in more recent times the rest of the office based industries followed Fleet Street and moved east.

Meanwhile Soho is decanting offices as people and families move into apartments at £3-5 million (€3.5-€6m) a pop.

But most of the prime market has now moved off the public square with selling and buying conducted in private. Priced more than Pounds 30 million (€35m) at times, it is rarely going to appear in the Press or estate agents window.

Get to the £80 million (€95m) and up and it’s a transaction that takes place in outer space. Soon a five-storey penthouse will complete the build; overlooking Borough Market that´s going to be a big asking price.

However, the steam will go out of the market soon, based on a cycle, not Brexit, and builders are already resetting the game.

More affordable housing will be going up, with around 200 towers to be built between Battersea Power Station and London Bridge along the South Bank.

Some immigrants are leaving, others will fall by the wayside and some will move on. Economic immigrants are on the move, as ever, while expats will follow the opportunities.

As ever; things are complicated, but always interesting.