Let's Get Real: The Rake Guide for First-Time Buyers

THE RAKE’s Property Correspondent scours Europe and the U.S. for the best city neighbourhoods for first-time buyers.

Let's Get Real: The Rake Guide for First-Time Buyers

For this Women’s Issue of The Rake, I wanted to focus on something that hits close to home. I talk a lot about property prices, as well as statistics, in my videos on social media. But at the crux is this question: who owns all of this real estate? Undoubtedly, ownership of land and property can empower women by providing income and security. 

There are 15 countries in which women do not have equal ownership rights to property, and 34 countries in which daughters do not have equal inheritance rights — and England is on that list. 

According to the U.N. Women organisation, women have a limited say in household decision making when they do not have land rights. Additionally, they do not have recourse to such assets during crises like domestic violence, war, or if they contract H.I.V. In post-conflict situations — and with a greater proportion of men
killed — the number of households headed by women increases; often they can be denied access to their homes, as the titles are in the name of their husband or brother. 

The west does not have the same issues, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important for women to be able to own a property — to get on the property ladder — wherever they live. Here, we highlight four neighbourhoods in four different cities where we believe it would be ideal to buy a first home. 



A little birdie has informed me that Bayswater, kickstarted by The Whiteley residential development, is going through a major transformation and revival. The Whiteley, a former shopping mall, has been turned into a luxury block of flats with an adjoining five-star Six Senses hotel with gym and spa facilities. It’s very central, sandwiched between Notting Hill and Marble Arch, which also brings you into Mayfair, and with the new Elizabeth line and the Tube’s Central line close by, there are great transport links. Property prices will definitely be going up in the next five years. 

Bayswater in London is well located, sandwiched between Notting Hill and Marble Arch.

New York

Crown Heights, Brooklyn

This vibrant and unpretentious neighbourhood has the beautiful brownstone houses associated with Greenwich Village and Chelsea while remaining affordable for first-time buyers. It is well connected on the subway, with roughly a 30-minute train ride into Midtown Manhattan. At the turn of the century it was one of Brooklyn’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, which is evident in its beautiful architecture. A train connection to Harlem helped give Crown Heights its more diverse population, and that eclecticism and culture is intact today. The wonderful Prospect Park is also a highlight here, with botanical gardens to stroll around in. It would be top of my list if I were looking to buy in New York. 

The Brooklyn Bridge.



In the City of Love, the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Batignolles stands out to me as a great place for first-time buyers. It has a small-town atmosphere known mostly to locals and is not inundated by tourists. The architecture here is mainly Haussmannian. A fun fact is that Impressionism was born in the neighbourhood’s cafes, thanks to the regular patronage of Manet, Degas, Cézanne and Renoir. It is bordered by picturesque English gardens, colourful markets and a fantastic selection of fine dining. It is a lazy bohemians’ paradise that is a stone’s throw from the artistic Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge. There is a lovely park in the vicinity that also acts as a selling point. Parc Monceau, or the ‘green lung’, covers more than eight hectares and has a notable Italian grotto-style bridge in the middle. The commute to central Paris is roughly 20 minutes, so the benefits of buying here is that you’re very central.

Baron Haussmann left his mark on Batignolles, in Paris’s 17th arrondissement.



Any city by a beach makes for superb living, and I couldn’t compile this list without including the artistically sumptuous Barcelona. It has nine Unesco world heritage sites, and seven of those come from the city’s most prolific modernist architect, Antoni Gaudí. It is the only city in the world awarded the Royal Gold Medal for architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects. I remember first going to Barcelona on a school trip, and witnessing Gaudí’s breathtaking modernism sprawled across the city in its twisted shapes and vivid colours and textures. He used a lot of mosaic tiles, stained glass, wrought iron and sandstone to make his buildings come to life. Inspired by nature, his shapes mimic the natural world, and he developed building technology for structures that curve as they extend upwards. The Sagrada Família, whose renovation is due to be completed in 2026, is the most famous example of his work. With this artistic inspiration in mind, I’ve chosen Gràcia, a neighbourhood that sits in the northern part of the city. This bohemian quarter is great for first-time buyers looking to get on the market at an affordable price. It is known for its vibrant cultural scene, art galleries, theatres and music venues. Students, artists and poets from all over the world love being in Gràcia, and tourists don’t tend to frequent it, leaving it something of a hidden gem. As well, it has some of the best restaurants and bars, making it a great destination for a night out. As an investment, it holds relatively affordable property prices alongside high rental yields. According to Idealista, the average price per square metre is approximately €3,500 (£3,000), making it one of the more affordable neighbourhoods in the city, with rental yields of up to 7 per cent. It is 10 minutes by public transport to the city centre, and a relatively safe neighbourhood for intrepid young female professionals looking to get a taste of Spanish living. 

Gaudi’s artistically sumptuous Barcelona.

Photo Credits: Getty Images