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Acumen

We take a look at the numbers and tell you where they add up and, even more importantly, where they don’t.

Street scene of London during the day with red bus coming towards the camera
picture source

London's Sky-High Rents

Source: Nikos Koutoulas

High Life

The Youngsters Behind London's Rental Boom

Why you should care

Big cities and their big real estate mean big business. Enough about New York City — here’s the view from another world center. 

Bad news: The only way to afford one of the world’s toniest cities may be to have mummy and daddy foot the bill for your flat.

In London’s high-end neighborhoods of Knightsbridge and Chelsea, the average cost of renting an apartment can top $10,000 a month.

Foreign students moving to London for a degree account for

29 percent

of the London rental market, according to London Central Portfolio Limited, an asset management firm. And they’re not living in barrack-like student exchange housing of Prague or Jerusalem from back in the Gen X college days. Many of them are living in some of the most moneyed parts of the city. In Westminster, a two-bedroom goes for $1,757 a month. That’s not quite Manhattan prices, but it’s more monthly than many people’s mortgage payments.

London apartments have a 96-percent occupancy rate, with a rate of return for real estate investors of some 9 percent a year. The researchers and market watchers credit a lot of that to the international textbook set.

Real estate expert Nicola Livingstone says the foreign students are good for London — they have a reliable, steady stream of tenants with good backers (read: parents). But then again, the flip side is professionals pushed out of the central living areas, and the potential of rising rates in such a strong market.

What comes after gentrification? Are the oligarchs laying in wait? Time will tell …

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