July 1, 2013 at 5:19 PM ET
The cost of living the good life in London is rising fast.
The price of buying a Patek Philippe watch, employing a housekeeper or getting a Botox treatment in the British capital outpaced overall inflation in 2012, as the flood of rich people to London from the Middle East, Russia and other corners of the world drove up demand.
According to a report from Stonehage, a leading multifamily office that advises wealthy clients from around the globe, the cost of luxury living in London grew 4.9 percent in the 12 months ended in April. That's more than twice the rate of inflation for the broader British economy.
The surge also follows a 1.6 percent decline in luxury living prices in the 12 months ended in April 2012, suggesting that demand for luxe goods grew over the past year. The Stonehage Affluent Luxury Living Index was launched in 2007 and was first developed by professor Geoffrey Wood of the Cass Business School.
"Consumer confidence among the ultrawealthy in London has risen, following a surge of wealthy families to the capital," said Ronnie Armist, executive director at Stonehage Investment Partners.
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The increase was largely fueled by hard goods, or what Stonehage calls "investments of passion." Those include Patek Philippe men's Calatrava white-gold watches, Range Rover vehicles and Boodles Raindance jewelry. Prices for the category jumped 14.8 percent (though Stonehage doesn't break out individual components).
Prices for consumables—which includes Beluga caviar and Cohiba Siglo V cigars—grew 5.3 percent. Prices for high-end culture and entertainment, like a night at the Royal Opera and membership at Soho House, went up 4.2 percent. A stay at the Four Seasons Hotel, George V Paris and other high-end travel costs increased 4.4 percent.
Some categories saw stable prices. The costs of "housing and family," which include housekeepers from Beauchamp, Botox treatments, private schools and a woman's hair appointment at Michaeljohn, went up a modest 0.6 percent.
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Living large in London, however, may still be cheaper than living it up in Asia. The 2013 Julius Baer Lifestyle Index showed that the cost of luxury goods and services across major cities in Asia rose 8 percent from 2012, outpacing inflation in the region, which accelerated to 5.3 percent.
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