24th July 2019

London Living - More Than Living


There is no doubting that London offers a unique and exciting environment, but when it comes to living and working in the city there are a few areas that it falls down – particularly when compared with other capitals across Europe. Quality of life has many measures and perhaps now is the time to look at city neighbourhoods and communities that are getting it right further afield so that we can start to fix what is happening on our own door step. Jessica Mueller, DTZ Investors’ analyst pens her thoughts below.

London is renowned for being an expensive city to live in. Depending on which statistic you look at, it varies from being the most expensive in Europe to about the third, Zurich and Geneva sometimes taking the lead. Rome, Barcelona and Berlin are all significantly cheaper, although still top capital cities to visit. Demand in London is extremely high whether it is for housing, restaurants and bars or activities. This demand has made a simple cappuccino now c.£2.70 in London, in Madrid the price is 80% less.

On the quality of life ranking by Mercer, Geneva and Zurich, although being very expensive, place very highly. London, however, ranks at only 41st, so where has it gone wrong? The quality of life ranking takes into account personal safety, housing, public transport and much more. London falls behind mainly on air pollution, traffic, crime levels and also unsurprisingly, housing. Vienna and Zurich are ranked highly on the quality and affordability of housing, transport and infrastructure, leisure facilities and crime rates.

Housing is important for everyone and therefore is weighted highly in the ranking. This is widely known to be an area where London needs to focus its attention, and where better to learn from then a city which is purported to be doing it right? Zurich is home to many front leading housing developers/co-operatives, such as: Mehr als Wohnen (More than living), Kalkbreite and Kraftwerk. Mehr als Wohnen aims to create a new neighbourhood within the city rather than an estate, each scheme has its own personality and mirrors the way the community of people want to live. These schemes are built at scale, they each have a micro-government and keep every ground floor reserved for businesses and communal use. Mehr als Wohnen is funded by around 50 small co-operatives and they have created 295 dwellings, 35 retail space as well as community facilities for c. 1,200 residents, just north of Zurich. These residential schemes have proved that large developments which focus on community living make cities much friendlier and more affordable places to be. If London is to increase the quality of life of its inhabitants, it might be time to take a more radical approach to residential planning and allow more innovative housing solutions to overhaul the current provision.

Jessica Mueller


LondonLiving is a weekly thought piece looking at different aspects of life in the capital; from the logistics of deliveries, the plight of loneliness, through to how generation rent is shaping its future.

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