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An adult and two children walk along Kensington street on a cloudy day

Money can’t buy you happiness – London’s most desirable borough is its least happy

Kensington & Chelsea is both London’s most desirable borough to live in, and the least happy, reports show.

Estate agent Douglas & Gordon named Chelsea and Kensington as their most desirable places for families to buy a house, with prices for a three bedroom house £2.75m and £2.29m respectively.

But people living in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea scored their happiness the lowest anywhere in the capital, 6.85 out of 10, compared to the average of 7.38, according to the Office for National Statistics’ annual personal well-being report.

RANKED: London’s happiest boroughs and the price you pay to live there

Fellow south west London boroughs Richmond and Merton were ranked the second and third happiest respectively, behind Brent.

More Kensington & Chelsea residents rated their happiness as ‘low’ than any other borough, 15%, and had among the biggest disparity in responses.

Data from Trust for London showed that Kensington and Chelsea’s poverty rate is 28%, above the London average and indicative of the borough’s wealth inequality.

John Pollard, on the executive committee for residents’ group Knightsbridge Association, said: “There are tremendous amounts of people in big residential blocks dealing with the Covid problems in the area, but in the Knightsbridge end we really don’t have much to grumble about.

“There has been a change in the number of residents and a lot have moved out.”

Pollard said that a lot of the bigger houses have been turned into flats – a block of six houses was recently converted into 22 flats for example.

“They’re just sort of bedsits with very transient people coming in and out which is not what we really would like,” he said. 

The south west borough of high-end homes and designer shops is the capital’s most expensive with average house prices of £1,313,589 – almost double the city’s average which, this year, crept over £500,000.

Kensington & Chelsea also had a crime rate of 113.8 crimes per 1000 people in the last 12 months, second only to Westminster with 183.4, according to Metropolitan Police statistics.

Of Douglas & Gordon’s most desirable places to live, decided by average price for a three-bedroom home and proximity to green spaces and schools, seven of the top ten are nestled in the South West.

An infographic to show the house price, schools and parks of London's most desirable areas.
DIGS: London’s most desirable areas, ranked by the average price of a three-bedroom house and the number of parks and primary schools within 20 minutes

Douglas & Gordon’s South London Director Garry Howorth said: “Although never a kept secret, south west London was less well known 10-15 years ago but has become increasingly popular.

“Space is clearly important and particularly so given the recent lockdowns we have gone through.

“The time spent at home has highlighted that extra living space, a garden or an extra bedroom previously may have been deemed ‘nice to haves’ but are now essential.” 

Web searches for “places to live in London” have increased 5% since last year as has the number of searches related to moving to the capital.

Howorth added that house sales have been suppressed since Brexit negotiations began five years ago but the pent up demand for people wanting to make a move is really starting to show.

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