Key to the future

Don’t fancy a country cottage with roses round the door? Then join the retirees enjoying the high life in London. It could prove a wise investment, too.

There was a time when you got your pension, packed your bag and headed to the country – but not any more.

Now many people, especially those who used to work in London, keep a pied-à-terre to enjoy a capital lifestyle despite having a main home outside. And there are clear advantages to staying in the city.

First, London’s public transport is very good compared with the rest of the UK and it typically comes with seniors’ discounts. Second, you are close to vital services such as GPs and hospitals as well as facilities including shops, museums, theatres and entertainment spots – again, often with cut-price perks for pensioners. Finally, you will almost certainly have neighbours nearby to provide added peace of mind.

Although there are also advantages when it comes to property choice – small apartments ideal for retirees are much more common in London than outside, for example – there is undoubtedly an obstacle to some in the form of high asking prices.

Small flats in London are ideal for retirees

Across Greater London as a whole, the average price of a detached house now exceeds £700,000 while an apartment costs almost £350,000. In central London, those prices can very easily double although it is still possible to get a very small studio flat – the classic pied-à-terre for an active retired person or couple – for about £200,000.

Estate agents say the favoured locations for retirees are Bloomsbury and Islington close to the centre, followed by south of the river hotspots such as Waterloo, Bromley and Croydon.

“The cost of buying a property is very high, but retirees should see it as an investment for the medium-term as well as a lifestyle choice for now,” says buying agent Andrew Hebden.

“It allows you to stay in London while there is a very strong chance that it will appreciate in value so can be sold in a few years for a handsome profit.”

Certainly London’s market, especially near the centre, has stayed buoyant despite wider economic worries, and few expect that to change soon. For affluent retirees, a base in the capital could be a perfect combination of liberated lifestyle and canny investment.

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