Not to be confused with the area of Greater London which is home to most of the Capital’s population, the City of London is considered to be the world’s leading business and financial centre, epitomising the stability that continues to attract so much investment to London.
With the rise of Canary Wharf and Docklands to the east, ‘the City’ has successfully revamped and modernised itself and incorporated all the northern and eastern fringes into its orbit. The result is a vibrant district that not only bustles with financial energy but has also become a sought-after residential quarter and a shopping, nightlife and cultural destination in its own right.
A brisk walk to work during the week, followed by an escape to a countryside home on Fridays, is what many would consider a work/life set-up worth paying for. But convenient transport links to and from the Square Mile have made living in the City a more viable option prompting more professionals to rent a property here. Couples and sharers have also bought into the no-commute lifestyle, recognising that the City, with its film-set atmosphere and historical roots, possesses a look and feel that is totally unique.
With both work and leisure so readily at hand, it comes as no surprise to see new types of rental accommodation developed in and around the financial quarter. Luxury residential property developments complete with concierge services, spas and business suites have proven popular with the corporate workforce and there are more being built in the fringe areas that surround the City
Notably, The Heron and Roman House are both situated in EC2 near Moorgate Tube and the Barbican Centre arts venue with prices ranging from £750,000 for a studio apartments to £3.5 million for a two bedroom. The Heron, in particular, is a striking 30+ storey tower with large picture windows framing fantastic skyline views. Rents are strong here with The Heron pulling in averages of 1 Beds £650-£750 per week and 2 Beds £800-£1000 per week. For Roman House in Wood Street EC2 the picture is equally rosy with landlords rents achieving 1 Beds – £575-£695 per week and 2 Beds – £800-£1000 per week.
St Dunstan’s Court Fetter Lane EC4 is newer than all the other City schemes and is extremely popular with corporates offering a high spec and the added advantage of being situated a short distance on foot from London’s theatre district and abundance of restaurants. One bedroom apartments start at £980,000 while two beds are available for £1,700,000. Rents can fetch between £650-£725 per week and £850-£1500 per week respectively.
Investors looking for slightly less expensive investments would do well to research developments on the City fringes namely the E1 postcode. CityScape, Avant-Garde and Goodman’s Fields are all located in areas already popular in their own right, including the up-and-coming Aldgate area that surrounds the Surround the Square Mile, meaning they can still command City rents. Two bedroom flats can still be snapped up for between £850,000 and £1 million. Rents are very steady with an average of 8 applicants for every available property:
Kensington Apartments at CityScape – Commercial Street, Aldgate East E1
Studios – £425-£450 pw
1 Beds – £495-£550 pw
2 Beds – £625-£750 pw
Avant-Garde Apartments – Scalater Street, Shoreditch E1
Studios – £425-£450 pw
1 Beds – £495-£550 pw
2 Beds – £625-£750 pw
In this part of London, a few hundred metres makes all the difference and the location of Goodman’s Fields in Aldgate, rather than Aldgate East or Shoreditch, results in higher rents:
Goodman’s Fields, Aldgate E1
Studios – £475-£595 pw
1 Beds – £550-£625 pw
2 Beds – £750-£850 pw
Another development of note in these areas are Bezier Apartments in Old Street where demand remains high and where tenants can walk into the Square Mile in under 10 minutes.
The corporate high flyers and wealthy overseas students that form a large part of the tenant demographic in the City will appreciate the array of top draw amenities on offer in these new developments. Private gyms, concierge services, spas and some outside space are all high on their checklist of priorities, together with the magnificent views and walk-to-work locations, but landlords can still do a lot to excite interest from individuals, looking for that little bit extra.
Keeping a keen eye on the quality of interior and furnishings is one way of attracting the best tenants. To this end, we recommend that landlords consider using a furniture package specialist to ensure that everything needed is fully installed when a property completes or becomes available. An annual service charge of around £5 per square foot should also be factored in as it will add between £2,500 and £4,000 a year to running costs which, at this level, should be considered money well spent.
The central location of the City ensures that transport links are convenient and plentiful. Liverpool St, Fenchurch Street, Cannon Street are located a short walk across the river to London Bridge mainline rail station are all within walking distance from each other while Bank Tube station houses connections to the Central, Northern and District lines. DLR routes pass through Tower Bridge while the Jubilee line extension links London Bridge to Canary Wharf in a matter of minutes.
A few years back, the general consensus was that corporate workers took every opportunity to avoid the City outside of office hours, leaving it empty and sterile at the weekend. Extra space was created as some of the trading floors moved to Canary Wharf and imaginative developers took full advantage. Recently introduced retail hubs like One New Change not only provide luxury shopping but also the awe-inspiring sight of nearby St Paul’s cathedral.
A spate of new office skyscrapers has led to an increase in the “high-rise dining” phenomena with restaurants like Sushi Samba, City Social and Altitude commanding London-wide views from the Heron, Tower 42 and The Shard respectively. This, together with the trendy reinvention of Spitalfields, Borough and Leadenhall markets, means that weekends in the City are as vibrant as anywhere in London.
There is a telling scene in the acclaimed historical drama Wolf Hall, where a rebellious nobleman receives a reality check from Thomas Cromwell who tells him that the world would “…no longer be controlled by soldiers, but by bankers”. Cromwell went on to run his empire of influence and control from Austin Friars in what is now London EC2. He would, without a doubt, totally approve of what his old neighbourhood has grown into.
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