If you're a banker and you live in London you probably don't want to live in Lewisham, Edmonton, Enfield or anywhere much beyond zone two unless it's Richmond (zone 4) or Chiswick (zone 3). So, where should you reside when you're not in the office? Which London postcodes say you've arrived as an investment banker in the City? If you want something that spells unequivocal success, it's these:
Knightsbridge is for bankers who love everything that is expensive, even without great value for money. Sloane Street, Harrods and Harvey Nic's are all on your doorstep. You'll need to love having a flash postcode and will prefer location over space and value. One young banker I know has a studio flat, just so he can say he lives in Knightsbridge, even though he could get a 3 bedroom just a few streets away in a less expensive post-code. These bankers love shopping and labels, owning car collections, and everything that shines.
Thanks to the oligarchs, W8, in Kensington, is now the most expensive post-code in the UK. W8 is ideally located between Kensington Gardens and Holland Park. It's ideal for dog-walkers and for nannies walking dogs and babies. There are shops on High Street Kensington for whole food Shopping. It is close enough to South Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill for restaurants and schools. W8 is the Switzerland of West London: the place for wealthy peace-keepers between posh Chelsea and grungy Notting Hill.
Chelsea attracts posh Bankers who believe that Chelsea is still in its ‘Sloaney Poney’ heyday. If you live here, you'll need to be groomed and manicured (whether you're a man or woman) and you'll need to like picture-perfect streets and neighborhoods. You won’t leave the house without make-up or head-to-toe Chanel or Ralph Lauren. Most restaurants are white-tablecoth and fine dining. The stucco-fronted, white Victorian houses all appear flawless and Walton street enchants with its nursery baby shops, art stores and trendy bars. King’s Road and Sloane Square are at the heart of Chelsea, with shops abounding and John Lewis around the corner.
South Kensington is the ‘French Mecca.’ All French expatriates fight each other for a spot at the Lycee Francais Charles de Gaulle, which provides very good education at half the price of the British Independent schools. If you're a French banker who hasn't quite made it, you might end up sending your children to the satellite schools in Fulham, Clapham or Hanwell. Sometimes, walking around South Kensington feels more like walking in le Marais in Paris or in Via Mont Napoleone in Milan. South Kensington is also very popular for the Italian Banker expatriates. There was even an Italian Rom-com film entitled ‘South Kensington’ directed by Carlo Vanzina in 2001, starring Sienna Miller in her first ever screen role.
If you're a banker who thinks you're slightly cooler and edgier than your posh Chelsea neighbours, Notting Hill fits the bill. Everything is a bit grungier up in Notting Hill: the streets, the restaurants, the shops and the people. If you're a banker who's a fashionista or artist at heart, you'll prefer Notting Hill over the rest. Notting Hill is for independent-thinkers rather than label-obsessives. Sienna Miller’s store Twenty8Twelve is still going strong on Westbourne Grove whereas Ralph Lauren shut down only after a few years open. There are large communal gardens, which are coveted by the garden lovers.
If you're an American banker, a move to St. John’s Wood is part of the rite of passage into Parenthood. The American School situated in St. John’s Wood has a larger-than-average campus with excellent facilities that are sometimes lacking in some of the other British independent schools. St. John’s Wood is close to Regent’s Park and the London Zoo, which will keep your kids entertained on sunny days. The houses here are wider than in some of the other post-codes, which will stop you complaining about the smallness and narrowness of London dwellings.
Serena Andrews is a bankers' spouse and blogger. She blogs at NottingHillYummyMummy,com (and may therefore be biased towards one London postcode above others).