Where To Live In London: Chelsea

Few, if any, places in London have the reputation for high quality housing quite like Chelsea. Nestled in the south end of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Chelsea is home to more of the rich and famous of London than bears mention. The zeitgeist of Chelsea may best be embodied by the iconic Chelsea flower show, where florists the world over come to show off their top plants every spring. Like the Flower Show, Chelsea is sophisticated, traditional and well respected.

Chelsea mainly comprises the SW3 and SW10 post codes, as well as parts of SW1. It is bordered by Sloane Square to the east, the Thames to the South, the Kings Road to the west and South Kensington and Knightsbridge to the north, though these are rough estimates. Residents are well served by the District Line and will find few difficulties getting around London without a car. Oddly enough, the Chelsea Football team plays in Fulham, to the west, rather than in Chelsea proper, though with the cost of property it would be difficult even for Chelsea FC to put a stadium there.

Chelsea has long been recognised as one of the most prestigious areas of London, a reputation it has worked to keep. The Cadogan Estate, which holds large sections of property in the area, has made a point of attracting fashion boutiques and other high end tenants into their buildings as well as keeping their properties well maintained. As result, the area attracts a certain type of person who is willing to pay a premium for the added sophistication of an SW3 post code.

According to Office of National Statistics, the average Chelsea resident earns (as of 2008) 35% above than the London average. Over 50% of residents have a University degree or higher, compared to 30% for London, and they are almost twice as likely to be self-employed. As well, 9% of residents are classified as stay-at-home parents, compared to 7% in London as a whole.

With regards to housing, 17% of residents live in some form of social housing (mainly through housing associations) compared to the London total of 26.2%. Of home owners, 28.75% have a mortgage compared to 60.6% for all of London. Three of Mouseprice.com’s 15 most expensive streets in London are in Chelsea, with properties in Chelsea Square currently being marketed at over £2000 per square foot.

All of this encourages the stereotype of the wealthy, upper middle class Chelsea resident, both positive and negative. Chelsea is known as one of the high points of wealth and class in London, and those who live there tend to value that moniker. Chelsea evokes upper middle class sophistication and the ire that goes with it. Still, the streets are wonderful, the shops are top quality and the houses are immaculate.

If you are looking to live in Chelsea, make sure you can afford it. The flats and houses will be classic and of the highest quality, but you will pay a premium for the location. If you want to be at the centre of culture and fashion, then it may be well worth the price to be right in the thick of Chelsea. Otherwise, you may want to consider the slightly less expensive Fulham to the east. Plan on living in a flat or terraced house, as detached and semi-detached houses are hard to come by and space in Chelsea is a rare commodity. Also don’t be shocked if you end up purchasing a long leasehold or virtual freehold, as much of the land is owned by the Cadogan Estate as well as being part of a larger unit. For those who want to live in Chelsea, there are few other places that compare as far as location, quality and image. Such benefits come at a price, but they are hard to replicate and may well be worth the cost.