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Henry & James capital ideas: a guide to moving, living and starting a new life in London

London is famous for many things: its beautiful properties, bustling shops, theatres and as a safe place to live. And over the past three months, we have seen an influx of people looking to buy in the capital. Some are interested in purchasing a property for themselves, while others are buying an apartment for their children.

But what should those planning to move to London consider? James Bailey, Chief Executive of Henry & James has worked in the capital for more than 30 years. In our new guide, James explains everything you need to know to start a new life in the city.

Q: What are the main reasons people move to London?

A: London offers an eclectic mix of international attractions from jobs and schools, to properties and lifestyle.

Q: Who does the capital suit?  

A: The capital suits a wide variety of people, but particularly those who are looking to cut their teeth in business. If you want to gain valuable experience, it is one of the best cities to live.

Q: How long should you start planning before making the move?

A: Start thinking about your move six months in advance. This is true whether you are looking to rent or buy here. Many people rent first, then review where they live and work before buying in their favourite area.

Q: How long does it take to settle in?

A: Similar to moving to a new school, you need a couple of months to settle in. London is a friendly place with a sense of community.

Q: Any tips to find a new home in the city? Should buyers have a check-list? 

A: It is always a good idea to have a check-list. Decide on your must-haves and any compromises. Public transport is vital, as well as living near a good school, if you have a young family, but convenience for work is usually the key factor that drives most people. Finding the right area is not difficult, whether it is St John’s Wood, Fulham, Canary Wharf or Belgravia. Each borough has its own, unique attractions.

Q: Are you seeing any particular trends at the moment?

A: There has been a distinct trend over the past three months with more people looking to buy a base in London for themselves or for their children. This is due to low interest rates and the weaker pound over the past few months.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learnt working in London?

A: The property market is resilient. Prices will continuously creep upwards. Bricks and mortar are an invaluable asset.

Q: Are there any particular nationalities moving to London?

A: No particular nationalities stand out at the moment; we are seeing buyers from the US and the Middle East to the Far East and particularly the UK.  The weaker pound has already helped buyers. Being one of the most important capitals in the world, London attracts many people from around the globe who are looking to start a new life here.

Q: Is now a good time to buy?

A: Now Article 50 has been triggered, it is a good time to buy. I expect prices to rise again in about a year’s time. The French (April 23) and German elections (September 24) are coming up. It will be interesting to see if more of these buyers relocate to the capital. We have our own General Election on June 8, too.

Q: Why do people choose London?

A: London ticks a lot of the boxes. It has beautiful parks, restaurants, theatres, good infrastructure and is a safe place to live. If you move to London, you will have plenty of visits from your friends, too.

Q: Where are the best areas to buy and why?

A: I have worked across the capital for 30 years. And have ended up, working in Belgravia. It stands out as one of the best areas with a prime central location – sandwiched between Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Mayfair.

Q: Is the area changing?

A: Yes, just look around the streets of Belgravia. Motcomb Street is undergoing a major makeover: the road is currently being pedestrianised and the grand colonnaded Pantechnicon building is being transformed into a cool retail and restaurant space. The small Waitrose, newsagent and dry cleaner gives this little street the feel of a welcoming village high street.

Q: Why should homeowners choose Belgravia and the surrounding areas?

A: These areas are dotted with safe havens that are a pleasure to live in. There are enchanting courtyards that provide privacy and peace, yet are just a few steps from the bustling shopping streets of London. Kinnerton Street for example, has proved popular over the years. It’s a real find – charming mews houses, punctuated by a couple of quirky local pubs.

Wilton Crescent contains the grand homes that would have been served by the original mews stables and carriage stores of Kinnerton Street. They make beautiful places to live.

Q: And finally, any advice to anyone who is thinking of moving to London for the first time?

A: London is a city with a constant buzz. There is no shortage of fun. Enjoy it.

  • Are you thinking of moving to London? For advice on letting, buying, selling, or moving, contact Henry & James at 1 Motcomb Street, London SW1X 8JX (020 7235 8861;