If you’ve ever been a student living on a budget, you know this feeling – the dreaded moment of seeing a massive chunk of your money leaving your account every month just to pay the rent. No matter how much of your monthly spendings you have to devote for preventing yourself from being homeless, in your head the amount of rent is always too high – worth living in Kensington Palace maybe, but not your compact (but lovely!) flat. Well, how about paying £6750 a week? Welcome to Egerton Crescent in London, Britain’s most expensive street.
At first glance, Egerton Crescent does not look any different from other areas in Kensington and Chelsea, London’s Royal Borough, known for being home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and kids of fabulously rich parents who also happen to be reality TV stars (we all know that Made in Chelsea is scripted, but that doesn’t stop us from watching it, does it?). The white, terraced buildings, built by property developer James Bonnin in the 1840s, look sterile and classy with an occasional pop of colour coming from a neatly trimmed shrub, or entry doors painted in one of Farrow-Ball’s shades. Expensive cars are parked next to more ‘family friendly’ ones and builders’ mini-vans. The area is calm and quiet, with a private garden (with grass so green it looks like it came straight from a catalogue) acting as a shield from London’s usual bustle. Anyone who ever wandered around Kensington and Chelsea knows this type of a street. Perfect. Quiet. Looking inhabited.
This is not your normal expensive street though: it is extreme of the extremes. According to an annual survey carried by Lloyds, an average house on Egerton Crescent will cost you £7.4 million, 42 times the national average price, making it the most expensive street in the United Kingdom. Not one for statistics and average prices? Let’s look at actual examples of Egerton Crescent’s properties available on the market.
On their website, Patterson Bowe advertise (sadly, already rented) a four bedroom house to rent. For £6750 a week (so nearly a thousand a day) you can get a reception room, dining room, conservatory, gym, cloakrooms and four double bedrooms with a private garden; all of that in décor that quietly says “I’m rich” but is not kitschy, nor over-the-top (well, if crystal chandelier is not over the top for you…). Thinking about buying your first flat? Waellis proudly presents a modest 1,575sq ft. three bedroom, ground floor maisonette for mere £2 million as a guide price.
What is it that makes Egerton Crescent so special? Well, to be honest, it is more or less an (un)lucky accident. It is located in London, Britain’s most expensive city (like nearly every capital city in every country), in the city’s most expensive borough, with a close proximity to both South Kensington (with its famous museums and Kensington Gardens of course) and Knightsbridge (home of Harrods), while also not being TOO close to Kensington and Chelsea’s busiest streets. Prestigious, quiet, and pretty: what more could you want if you have a couple of million to spend on a three bedroom flat?
“Ok”, you may say, “I get that it is expensive because of the postcode, but why is that postcode so expensive? And why are flats in London so expensive?”. With this being a topic for an entirely new article, let’s keep things short and sweet: when you are rich, prestige matters and London IS a prestigious city, no matter if you are British or from a foreign country. So is Kensington and Chelsea, being home to members of the Royal family. And with the influx of foreign buyers from countries like Russia or China (where the rich are REALLY, SERIOUSLY, rich), the demand for luxurious flats is bigger than ever before.
However, it takes a while to build a building, meaning there is a limited supply of something that a lot of people want, allowing developers to increase properties’ prices to a ridiculous level, knowing that someone will buy them anyway. Yeah, it sounds insane and yeah, the actual value of Egerton Crescent’s properties is probably lower; but as long as people are willing to pay that much, the prices will keep rising.
That’s not the only problem of areas like Kensington and Chelsea: with mentioned foreign buyers and rising prices, more and more flats are bought only to be an investment, a safe place to put your money in. If you are in London, take a walk around one of the most expensive boroughs after the sunset. Be a little bit rude and look into people’s windows: more and more flats are dark and inhabited, changing what once were London’s most lively boroughs into ghost towns with flat prices so high, anyone who isn’t an oligarch or royalty will even dream of moving in there. “Well, surely we can stop it from happening, right?”, you may ask and yes, there are currently some actions being taken to stop people from treating houses only as a source of income with local authorities in Islington – another London borough – being first to suggest fines for ‘buy-to-leave’ investors. Sounds complicated but gives the good background to knowing why the most expensive streets are the most expensive ones.
According to Lloyds, all of top 50 most expensive streets can be found in Southern England with only one exception: Withinlee Road (commonly known as Footballers Alley) in Cheshire.
Oh, and there’s Kensington Palace Gardens, which is the ACTUAL most expensive street in Britain, although it’s never included in rankings. Why? Few mansions there changed hands so it is impossible to estimate their actual worth, but just as a rough estimate: in 2004, Lakshmi Mittal bought a nice home there for £57 million.
Written by Dagmara Reczka