Trendwatch: Return of the original Sloane Rangers

Buying agent Sara Ransom on the retirees trading country idylls for the stomping grounds of their youth…

An increasing number of retired homeowners are cashing in their spacious empty nests in the country, and swapping them for a small, manageable, well located retirement pad in London. For many it makes perfect sense. For the retired whose family have grown up and flown the nest, time is plentiful. For those who find the offerings of entertainment in the country too limited, London with its infinite supply of culture and entertainment can provide a very attractive alternative.

Many of these buyers lived in London when they were young and struggled to find the time and the money to enjoy the Capital’s pleasures. With both resources now at their disposal, London’s playground is entirely accessible.

There are other benefits too. Maintenance of a small city property is a great deal easier and cheaper; geographical advantages mean that family gatherings are likely to be more frequent; there’s little need for a car; public transport is cheap for the over 65s; international transport links are on the doorstep; and a good London property is arguably more useful to hand down to children than a six bedroom pile in the Shires.

Finding the right London property for buyers at the upper end of the age spectrum presents its own very distinctive challenges. Young buyers are generally driven by area; but for older buyers who aren’t restricted by places of work or school, the criteria are more varied.

Some buyers arriving from the country prefer to be near a park, and want space for family to visit. Marylebone / Regents Park, Hampstead, Wimbledon, Battersea and Clapham are good options. These are the traditionalists who want to recreate a bit of country in the Capital for walking the dog and seeing the sky.

Others prioritise being on the river, seeking some peace, quiet, and relaxing walks. Richmond and Twickenham meet the criteria well, but more centrally, there are some fabulous Victorian red brick Mansion Blocks along the Embankment in Chelsea, or in Pimlico, which also has some good 1960s buildings with great views over the River. South of the River, Shad Thames has large converted warehouse buildings with wonderful lateral space, great doorstep facilities such as restaurants and cafes, and spectacular views.

The blocks in Cadogan Gardens and Sloane Street are ideal

It’s not unusual for older buyers to insist on lateral space, easy accessibility, and good concierge service. Or to say that Peter Jones and Harvey Nichols should be within walking distance. These are often the Sloane Rangers of the ‘70s, returning to Chelsea fifty years later. The blocks in Cadogan Gardens and Sloane Street are ideal.

A move into London isn’t for financial lightweights. A six bedroom detached house in Gloucestershire with 5 acres of land will buy a two bedroom flat in Kensington or Chelsea, or a small terraced house a little further out in North Kensington or Earl’s Court. A clear appreciation of the massive chasm between country and capital prices is vital. The move is obviously easier to come to terms with if extra finance, beyond that from the sale of the family property, is available.

A swinging Kings Road in 1962 by Ben Brooksbank (CC-BY-SA-2.0)