In recent months three newspapers have shared the joys of living in the glorious stow with their readers. The Metro, Times and Guardian have all been singing the praises of E17. With quotes like “Walthamstow is a hidden gem” from the Metro and the Guardian stating that Walthamstow is a “great value village within easy reach off central London” it’s fair to say that the Walthamstow cat is very firmly out of the bag.
This next statement would not surprise anyone that knows me, I love Walthamstow, warts and all I think it’s a great place to live. But what is it that is encouraging other people to move here? Is it the Village with its church and ancient house? is it the bustling market? or perhaps it’s the transport links that bring people to E17. I’m sure all of these are a factor but one of the main reasons seems to be value for money. All three of the recent articles agree that Walthamstow is affordable, though the Guardian, when referring to affordability, does include the tag line “by London Standards” and I think for me that’s a really important statement. Whilst E17 is affordable in comparison to other areas of London, rents here are still too high for many whilst mortgages and buying a property is simply unachievable. The guardian also list average purchase prices for property in E17.
Market values Detacheds, £400,000-£800,000. Semis, £250,000-£750,000. Four-bed terraces, £320,000-£650,000; three-bed terraces, £240,000-£450,000; two-bed terraces, £220,000-£300,000. Three-bed flats, £160,000-£300,000; two-bed flats, £170,000-£260,000.
If you were just starting out on the property ladder you would have to earn a pretty decent salary to afford to buy anything. And here lies the problem, it’s great that people want to move here, the more the merrier. But as the popularity of Walthamstow increases so do the property prices. Great for estate agents but not so great for people who can no longer afford to live here. Is the housing situation actually going backwards? In 1911 the Howarth family, all six of them lived in our two bedroom house. In 2013 a similar situation can be found next door, three generations of the same family live in a two bed house because they can’t afford to rent anything bigger.
The original name for Walthamstow is Wilcumestowe which means The Place of Welcome. And many of us that have made our homes here have been made to feel incredibly welcome. Lets hope our town continues to live up to its name and welcome those that decide to live here. But I also hope a balance can be found and those just starting out, or people who are struggling financially can afford to stay in E17. Something that makes Walthamstow great is its mix of people and it would be a shame if that changed. There is lots of banter shared around pub tables about the perceived invasion from Stoke Newington, I love the jokes about installing check points and draw bridges over the River Lea. But the real challenge facing the Walthamstow housing market is not where people are moving from, but where people who already live here can afford to move to.