Comment: 'boomerang London returners are realising the capital is worth the cost'

Fewer Londoners ventured outside the M25 in 2023 to buy a home elsewhere, according to estate agent Hamptons (PA Wire)
Fewer Londoners ventured outside the M25 in 2023 to buy a home elsewhere, according to estate agent Hamptons (PA Wire)

London has its downsides – air pollution, expensive housing, the impossibility of not spending £14 every time you leave the house.

But compared to the downsides of not-London, I think extortionate rent and mortgage payments are a price worth paying for a functioning public transport system, thriving cultural scene, trend-setting restaurants and general sense of being at the heart of the action.

I am who I am and that’s a big city person. Turns out I’m not alone.

After three years where people had started believing they were only living in London because of the office – and have you seen what you can get for your money elsewhere? – a transition back to the capital is starting.

The second-highest proportion since 2009 of London homebuyers (11.9 per cent) bought from outside the capital last year, according to Hamptons data, while the number of London leavers is falling.

Apparently the London exodus is over.

The quality-of-life bores have conceded that there is more to existence than a home office and a big garden.

This is especially so now firms have started insisting on in-person working again, shattering isolationist pandemic dreams of working from home forever while creaming a fat London salary.

Meanwhile, the capital’s house prices are expensive but falling, while those outside are rising to meet them.

This is offering a potential sweet pricing spot for boomeranging Londoners who’ve also seen mainline train fares continue an inexorable rise with a corresponding decline in service.

Tellingly, just over half of the non-Londoners buying in the capital come from the traditional commuter zone of the South East, Hamptons found, while the number of buyers from the South West tripled compared to 2019 – testament to poorly researched big lifestyle change regret, perhaps.

Life is short and you can’t buy more of it – no matter what the Silicon Valley freaks would like to believe. You can, sort of, buy back time and convenience.

A short commute, a pint of milk within striking distance, seeing friends without getting in the car are worth the London prices, at least as far as I’m concerned. A growing number agree.