“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted” - Yuval Noah Harari
The onset of the second nationwide ‘lockdown’ in the UK this week has made me think about home, and more specifically, what we have come to expect from it.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the physiological requirements of food, water, warmth and rest sit right at the bottom of the pyramid. In other words, they are the most basic and fundamental of human motivations, and of course they include shelter, or a place to call home.
The question of what we have come to expect from our homes is an interesting one. As long as I’ve worked in London residential real estate, one rule has been constant. The closer you are to central London, the higher the per square foot value you’re paying for a home. Areas such as Mayfair, Kensington and Knightsbridge have led the way, with the focus on the proximity to world class amenities. I’ve seen buyers willingly sacrifice space, both internal and external in favour of a great location.
There was a fairly reasonable explanation for this. London is almost unrivalled when it comes to the combination of the arts, culture, education and fine dining. If you live in any of the aforementioned locations, you’ll never want for anything to do.
Unless of course, everything is closed.
I was chatting with a client this week who I’m helping to find a new home. He’s currently living in Covent Garden, and chose this location as he’s a regular patron of the Royal Opera House and divides his time between London, New York and Cairo. He described his current apartment as “the perfect London hotel suite”. Which is terrific when you have an office to go to during the day, hundreds of dining options for dinner and all you really need is somewhere to put your head at night.
However when you’re having to schedule alternate Zoom meetings with your partner because you don’t have separate spaces to work, it’s less than ideal. His main requirements now are a large garden, preferably one with a studio in it.
Since the first lockdown ended in around June this year, the London property market has been driven by many people having similar thoughts. Over the years we have come to take for granted the basic luxury of having a place to call home, thinking less and less about what the physical spaces do for us, and more about the convenience its geographical location offers. Over the last nine months, this has been turned on its head.
Whilst we all hope that the pandemic is over soon and that circumstances will allow us to return to a less restricted way of life, the implication of the experience will live much longer in the memory, and possibly drive buying trends for the next decade.