Property Investment and Buy-to-Let in the East of Enland

The east of England covers a huge area of the country stretching from the built-up London fringes out to the rural coastlines of Norfolk and Suffolk. In this report, we’ll try to pin down some of the main locations for property investment in the region.

Why Invest in the East of England?

The East of England region covers the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk plus some of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire including some of the area known as East Anglia. The east of England is a large and diverse area, consisting of several different city, town and rural property-markets each offering different opportunities for property investors.

According to this report from the European Commission, the region is one of the fastest-growing regions in the UK, both in terms of population and economy. The region is also one of the wealthiest areas in the UK. It had the third-highest GDP per capita in the UK in 2017.

The east of England has a diverse economy too. While some parts of the east are very rural the cities like Norwich and Peterborough are important business centres. Cambridge is a major global hub for education, science and technology businesses.

Some parts of the east are just within the London commuter belt, which can be very good news for buy to let property investors. For example, Colchester is just 49 minutes from London. This report says that Colchester is the cheapest place to own a home and travel to work in London. The report also recommends Peterborough, Bedford and Manningtree in Essex as being up and coming commuter spots.

Property investors looking at the east of England need to know about London Stansted Airport and the docks at Felixstowe and Harwich. Stansted Airport is the fourth busiest airport in the UK. The Port of Felixstowe is the UK’s busiest container shipping port, and one of the busiest in Europe. These areas are employment hotspots offering lots of jobs and so can offer good opportunities for buy to let landlords.

The east of England also offers many different opportunities for student accommodation investment. Cambridge is home to the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University with around 60,000 students overall. Norwich has the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Norwich University of the Arts with around 16,000 students. The University of Essex has its main campus at Colchester. The University of Suffolk has campuses in Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

There are plans to set up a new Peterborough University on a brand new site with 2,000 students by 2022. This could be really good news for investors who want to invest in student houses. Anglia Ruskin University already has a small campus in Peterborough.

Property Values

Property prices in the East of England region are above the UK national average. According to HM Land Registry statistics the average house in the East of England region currently costs £293,928 compared to the national average of around £249,000.

Average property prices can be misleading and the average here is skewed by high Cambridge property prices. The eastern parts of the region tend to have lower than average property prices. Zoopla and Rightmove show prices as low as £50,000 in some places.

This report, quoting Savills, suggests property investors who consider in the east could make a very good return over the next few years. It says property prices in this area could rise 10.6% over the next five years, while in London they will only rise 4%.

Colourful and historic town houses sit on the quayside in Norwich. Photograph taken at dusk
Historic Town Houses on the Quayside in Norwich

Rental Demand

Figures from the Homelet Rental Index suggest that landlords in the East of England region enjoy some of the highest rents in the UK outside London and the south-east. They say that the average rent in the region is £913 a month, compared to the UK average (excluding Greater London) of £793 a month.

Landlords and investors should bear in mind that there’s a lot of variation within the area though. Areas closer to London and hotspots like Cambridge have much higher average rents than other parts of the region. The BBC House Price Calculator can help give you an idea of likely average rents for your buy to let.

Property Investment in the East of England

Here’s our guide to property investment in some of the main cities and towns in the East.

Bedford

Population: 106,900
Average House Price: £281,054

Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire with a population of 80,000. Originally an agricultural town it is now a centre for food and drink industries. Colworth Park is a major science park and home to many science and tech. companies. There is also a large logistics and distribution sector thanks to proximity to the M1 and A1.

The town has undergone regeneration in recent years including the Riverside Bedford leisure scheme and Castle Quay development with plans for more new developments.

Bedford is also a popular residential spot and commuter location for Milton Keynes, Luton, Cambridge and also London which is about 40 minutes away by the fastest train.

Cambridge

Population: 119,000
Average House Price: £424,087

Cambridge is well known as a university city, but there’s much more to Cambridge than that. Cambridge is a hotspot for research, science and technology that is renowned around the world.

Little wonder then that Cambridge has a buoyant property market with huge demand both for property to buy and property to rent, making it a truly exciting city for property investors.

Cambridge has some of the highest average property prices in the east as well as the whole UK. Letting yields are around 4-5%.

This report tells you more about the best areas of Cambridge to invest in buy-to-let.

Colchester

Population: 112,000
Average House Price: £266,989

Colchester is one of the fastest growing towns in Essex, with the population growing around 20% over the last decade. Although 60 miles from London good transport connections and proximity to Stansted Airport have made it popular as a commuter town and it has been a hotspot for new building and development in recent years.

The public sector is the main employer in Colchester with employers including Colchester Garrison, Colchester General Hospital and the University of Essex.

Ipswich

Population: 133,000
Average House Price: £200,362

Ipswich is the county town of Suffolk, a historic town and ancient port on the River Orwell. A one-time agricultural town modern Ipswich’s main industries are services, including financial services, with the nearby Port of Felixstowe being one of the area’s main employers.

Ipswich has benefitted from town centre regeneration in recent years based on the Ipswich Waterfront and Ipswich Village area with leisure, residential development and the University of Suffolk.

Ipswich itself has some of the lowest property prices in the east of England although the surrounding areas of Suffolk are pricier residential locations.

Learn more about the best areas of Ipswich to invest in buy-to-let.

Norwich

Population: 141,000
Average House Price: £208,292

Norwich is the county town of Norfolk and regarded as the capital of East Anglia. The current population is around 141,000 but the surrounding urban area takes the population to around 213,000. Savills say Norwich is one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK.

Norwich is a major business and commercial city. Main employers are in business and financial services, public services, retail and light manufacturing, tech and research. Norwich is particularly well known for Norwich Union, now Aviva plc, and the Norwich Research Park.

Norwich is a historic city dating back 43AD, so it is also a tourist location with attractions including Norwich Castle, Norwich Cathedral and the famous Norwich Market which dates back to the 11th century. It’s also the main regional centre for culture, music and theatre.

The nearby Norfolk Broads are a popular holiday location, especially for boating holidays, and so can also offer opportunities for holiday property investors.

Yields in Norwich are around 4% to 5%. PrimeLocation puts Norwich in its Top 20 Student Buy To Let Hotspots.

Great Yarmouth: Property investors could also consider Great Yarmouth which is located to the east of Norwich.

Great Yarmouth is the east’s main tourist resort. It is also a low property price hotspot, with a current average house price of £175,700. This has made it attractive for budget buy-to-let property and HMO landlords.

Learn more about the best areas of Norwich to invest in buy-to-let.

Peterborough

Population: 202,000
Average House Price: £203,591

A footbridge over a river on a summer day. Photograph of a bridge over the River Nene in Peterbourough
Footbridge Over The River Nene, Peterbourough

Peterborough has some of the cheapest property prices in the region while being just 46 minutes from London …. making it something of an affordable hotspot convenient for the capital. Although Peterborough is 98 miles from London the fastest train takes just 46 minutes. So Peterborough is becoming more popular with those who need to travel to London but who are looking for an affordable place to live.

Peterborough can offer property investors yields around 4-5%. This report tells you more about the best areas of Peterborough to invest in buy-to-let.

About Our Data

Note: Population estimates are based on information provided by Localstats. Current average asking prices are taken from HM Land Registry data and Zoopla. Buy to let yields by postcode are taken from Totally Money Buy-to-Let Rental Yield Map 2019/2020.