Wealthy French expats are struggling to afford the desirable ‘golden square’ addresses they have traditionally preferred
Another migrant housing problem. Migration problems are ten-a-penny but I wouldn’t have known about this were it not for the magazine Spear’s Wealth Management. Some issues fly under the radar. This is one of those.
It concerns the wealthy French. There are 400,000 in London and more are en route apparently, to escape President Hollande’s 75% tax demand.
David Cameron says he’ll “roll out the red carpet”. But resources are scarce, even for the rich. Where will they live? That’s the issue, says Spears. “The French are notoriously precious about their postcodes; the problem, however, for the Parisian address snob is that not even the richest French, who are used to much lower property prices per foot anyway, can now afford some of the frankly absurd prices that are being asked in the ‘golden square’ of Chelsea, Belgravia, South Kensington and Holland Park.”
They come with hope as migrants do, but there is nothing sentimental about demand and supply. Fairly grand houses are selling for £40m.
William Cash, editor-in-chief at Spears, tells of one case where an owner rejected £50m. “The French, like the English, are finding themselves squeezed out of prime areas such as Chelsea and Belgravia and forced to decamp to the ‘burbs’ – with Fulham and Parsons Green regarded as the most desirable for the French address snob looking for a family home under £1.5m.”
A rich cohort, but not rich enough to hold position in the capital. A lot were renting, South Ken estate agent Patrick Alvarado tells me. They have families and then find they can’t stay in the “golden square”. And why are the prices so high? “Rich Europeans, especially Greek and Italians, have been the biggest buyers in the last few years,” he says.
The area is still very French, “but we see an impact from any country where there is trouble”. Russians and eastern Europeans arrive with serious money. Last year it was Egyptians. This is a city of churn.
That said, with the flag outside the French embassy annexe, with the cafes, the bookshops and the lycée, one still has that snapshot of Paris. And that’s great, says Louis Loizides, whose deli provides wine, foie gras, cheeses, crepes and yoghurts. He’s Greek Cypriot, by the way.
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