My London Dream Shot to Hell

As you know London consistently ranks among the top 5 most expensive cities in the world. I’ve also expressed my long-standing desire to retire there on my 65th birthday. Although that desire has not changed, the reality has been sinking in.

On my last trip, I did research and found some very small places way out in Limehouse, Mudchute, and East India Quays for around US$1,000,000* — basically 750 to 950 square foot apartments without parking or AC. I don’t mind the suburbs, but I want a decent neighbourhood with access to the tube or DLR. There was one place I really liked for around £660,000 — about £1,000 per square foot which was the going rate in London at the time (2004). And for shits and giggles I even looked on-line at a place that was almost identical to my current house (same size, rooms, parking, yard, amenities, everything) except that it had no AC. It was in Westminster and was only £4,400,000. Adding the AC will cost more, and London now has more and more days where it’s needed, thanks to global warming.

Today’s Miami Herald and Fishwrapper had an article on a dirty, dilapidated, 77 square foot (yes, seventy-seven) broom closet with no electric or facilities for US$335,000 or US$4,340 per square foot. You can touch both walls with your arms at the same time. This is smaller than my bathroom and I can’t afford it.

For those who don’t know, this is all way out of my price range. Which sucks, because my plan was to buy now, use it for the Olympics in 2012 so I’d have somewhere to stay, and then rent it out for the rest of the time. But English tax law scotched that. Income tax is complex and high over there, and it might not work so well if I have regular income there. Plus, in the UK, in most cases, a mortgage can be taken out only until the date you retire. So if I’m retiring in 13-1/2 years, my mortgage is 13-1/2 years. In my case, we’re looking at 23-3/4 and counting.

Anybody want to go halfers on a two-bedroom flat in the Docklands, or thirds on a three-bedroom? You can use it whenever you want except for two weeks in 2012 🙂 Seriously. I’ll talk.

*All figures converted from £ to US$ at approximately 2 to 1, the current exchange rate.

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