I am currently reading Capital by John Lanchester, and because it takes me so long to read it (my reading time is limited to 15 minutes on the train each morning and evening at the moment), I have plenty of time to think about the story, the characters, and property development in London (and, by extension, in Berlin, where I live, and which is approaching similar craziness).
Capital is a collage of the lives of the inhabitants of Pepys Road, London. Somewhere online (can’t remember where now), I read that Pepys Road was fictional, but I like pictures and I wanted to know what an inner-city street with single family homes in the middle of gentrification looks like. Where to start? Google Maps. I wasn’t sure what to look for, so, on a whim, I put in “Pepys Road, London”, and — tadaaa! The pictures are from May 2018 (the book is set shortly before the financial crisis of 2008), but it’s pretty much exactly how I imagined it.
There are a lot of half renovated/half unrenovated houses:
There’s the construction work:
What I expected but didn’t find: expensive big cars – but then again, maybe Londoners are too smart after all to buy big expensive cars in the city.
I also expected the street itself to be a bit wider and nicer, more like one of these suburban dreamy American streets that you sometimes see in movies, but that was just my unfiltered imagination.
So, how much does a house on the real Pepys Road cost? In the book, one of the characters expects about 2 million GBP for selling a freshly renovated house. My quick google search gives me a few results on Pepys Road as well as some close-by streets, among them, for example, an okay (but not great) looking 5-bedroom-house for 1.2 million GBP or a two-bedroom-flat for half a million. The best-looking one was a 4-bedroom-house for 1.35 million. In conclusion, prices aren’t as crazy as in the book, but they’re still pretty outrageous.
Let’s end this post with a couple more random pictures from Pepys Road:
All images in this post were taken from Google Maps.