They are the healthiest and wealthiest people in the country, so little wonder the residents of Richmond upon Thames live in what is today revealed in a survey as the happiest place in the capital.
Rightmove questioned Londoners on everything from local community spirit to the friendliness of their neighbours, the quality of local sporting facilities, safety, transport and green space, before naming Richmond the city’s number one happy spot.
West London smiles through today’s study, with Kingston upon Thames and Wandsworth also in the top five, while Bromley and Sutton, in the furthest reaches of south London, also make the cut. Camden and Barnet, in sixth and seventh positions, fly the flag for north London, and Ealing in west London, Greenwich in south-east London, and Havering, east London, complete the Top 10.
Richmond: property prices
Being a Richmond happy home owner doesn’t come cheap, with an average property price of £829,533, according to Rightmove. One of the borough’s big, rambling Victorian villas would cost £5.5-£6 million. A semi on the same scale would cost from £3-£4 million, proof of just how highly Richmond residents value privacy.
Then there are those lavish architectural gems being carved out of the former Star and Garter services care home, designed for luxury living by London Square on Richmond Hill. A two-bedroom apartment in the landmark building, due to complete this year, is on sale for £2.9 million.
With £1 million to spend in Richmond you could buy a two-up two-down cottage or a two- or three-bedroom flat. With £500,000 you are looking at a one-bedroom flat. And for £350,000, the average spend for a London first-time buyer, the only option would be a modest studio.
Richmond’s first train station opened in 1846 and affluent buyers began moving to the area as an antidote to the crowds of central London, creating micro country estates surrounded by new streets of period houses. Today those houses are bought by commuters who can get to Waterloo in a brisk 18 minutes.
Richmond is, of course, also delightful with its riverside pubs, great restaurants and shops, and high-quality Georgian and Victorian houses. “It is like a little Georgian village on the river,” says buying agent James Watts, an associate with Prime Purchase. “It has a real sense of space and history.”
However, every silver lining comes with a cloud, which, in Richmond’s case is aircraft noise from planes using Heathrow. Its other downside is that it can become crowded with day trippers at weekends.
Watts also believes Richmond is now “very fully priced”. He doubts there will be much in the way of price rises over the next year or so, particularly with Brexit looming. “If you are looking for capital growth, London is going to be quite tricky for the next few years, and I would certainly not be advising people to go to Richmond in search of a bargain,” he says.
“People who buy in Richmond are doing so for the lifestyle.” Those buyers tend to be parents in their late thirties, who have made money on their flats in west London and are moving to Richmond for its “almost-countryside” atmosphere and good schools, including The Vineyard and Marshgate Primary — both especially sought after.
Richmond is also starting to attract national and international internet companies including eBay, PayPal, notonthehighstreet, Gumtree, and Graze, earning it the nickname Silicon-upon-Thames.
The arrival of these firms has helped shift Richmond from staid to having a rather more youthful vibe. Luke Ellwood, a partner at Knight Frank, believes Richmond is starting to attract younger buyers because the stamp duty for homes above £2 million made people think twice about how and when they move.
“Because they don’t want to pay the tax, and then pay it again a couple of years later, central London flat owners might omit the step up to a small house in Zone 2 when they become a couple and start a family, and instead stretch their budget and head straight out to Richmond in Zone 4, thinking ahead to a growing family. There’s been a dynamic shift in the buyer profile.”
He says most incomers work either in the City or the law, and there has always been the glamour element. Jerry Hall during her time with Mick Jagger, and actors Richard E Grant and Tom Hardy have all had Richmond homes. Other locals include Amanda Holden, Pete Townshend of The Who, and Brangelina, when they are filming in Britain.
Richmond residents are high earners.A recent study by consumer intelligence company CACI, found the average household income within the Richmond Park constituency was £58,000 compared to a national average of just over £36,000.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics reports that men living in the Richmond area have a healthy life expectancy of 70.3 years while the figure for women is 72.1 years — the best results in England.