The Best Cities in the UK to Invest in Buy-to-Let: A Guide for Landlords
The UK has many cities in which you can invest in buy-to-let. But when you’re investing you want to invest in the best. Here are our tips on the best cities in the UK to invest in buy-to-let.
So where are the best cities to invest in buy-to-let in the UK? We’ve considered factors such as the population, economy, property prices and rental yields to come up with some suggestions for cities you might consider.
London shouldn’t necessarily be your first choice for UK buy-to-let investment. For cheaper property and better yields head north of London, starting with .... the Midlands.
Buy-to-Let in the Midlands
Here are five cities in the Midlands, each offering different buy-to-let opportunities.
Birmingham is the second largest city outside London. Birmingham is now a major centre for modern manufacturing and professional and financial services, providing many jobs and boosting the demand for property. Birmingham is also a major university city with five area universities and over 80,000 students.
Birmingham’s city centre has been transformed recently with modern retail and office space and smart city living apartments. Many major city centre redevelopment schemes – like the Smithfield development – are upcoming. The arrival of the HS2 high-speed railway from London around 2030 should be a major boost for the city.
Surprisingly for such a major European city, Birmingham's property prices are still below the national average.
Coventry is the centre of the UK’s motor manufacturing industry which provides many jobs. There are plans to invest for the future with a new Gigafactory EV battery factory here. Coventry is also a major student centre with Coventry University and the University of Warwick having around 54,000 students.
Coventry city centre is benefitting from regeneration including modern grade A office buildings, homes, retail, hotel space and leisure amenities including the new The Wave indoor water park.
Coventry property offers investors good value and is generally far cheaper than the surrounding Warwickshire area.
Nottingham is the largest city in the East Midlands. Nottingham’s main industries are future-facing ones like financial and business services, logistics, advanced manufacturing, clean technology, life sciences and digital.
Nottingham is also a major university city with 57,000 students.
There are some very exciting regeneration plans ongoing including Southside, where new city living and office space is being built, and a new suburb at Boots Island known as the Island Quarter.
Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire is one of the UK’s smaller cities. It has a population of around 260,000 and is made up of not just one but six towns – Stoke, Hanley, Burslem, Tunstall, Longton and Fenton.
Stoke is known as a one-time centre for the pottery industry but today most jobs are in services and light manufacturing.
Stoke is known for having some of the cheapest property prices of any city. While rents aren’t the highest either than means one thing – strong yield potential for property investors.
Wolverhampton has a population of around 250,000. It has a manufacturing economy and is the centre of the UK aerospace industry.
Wolverhampton has undergone much regeneration in recent years and more are planned. There is a new transport interchange with national rail and tram links into Birmingham city centre, new grade A office space (where a Government department is relocating) and new leisure and cultural offerings. The University of Wolverhampton has expanded fast meaning Wolverhampton is a student city too. There are also some exciting plans to bring more city centre living into Wolverhampton.
Wolverhampton is still a very good value city investment location.
Buy-to-Let in the North West
The North West of England rivals The Midlands for attractive property prices and strong investor yields.
Chester is one of the UK’s smaller cities, and also one of the most historic, having Roman origins. But Chester doesn’t live in the past when it comes to industry. The city is a centre for public services, financial services and high tech. industries such as biotech which provide many well-paid jobs.
A busy tourist and visitor trade and student property market also help to boost the Chester property market. It’s a popular location for short-term lets.
Property investors considering Chester need to bear in mind that Chester isn’t a cheap property investment. However, strong demand and limited supply make it a great prospect for investors.
Liverpool is known for its culture and its links to the Beatles. But Liverpool is a major commercial city and employers include chemicals, food, business and financial services, retail, tourism and automotive.
There’s been lots of regeneration here in recent years, along the Pier Head and Albert Dock to create a spectacular waterfront. More regeneration with new city districts is planned.
For such a well-known city Liverpool property prices are still below the national average and it’s still possible to find cheap property investments in Liverpool.
Liverpool is also a major student city with over 50,000 students boosting the demand for Liverpool buy-to-lets.
Manchester is not only one of the UK’s largest cities it is one of the fastest growing. Estimates suggest the City of Manchester population will grow by around 85,000 people over ten years.
Manchester is a jobs hotspot. Thousands of new jobs have been created here as companies have relocated to benefit from a highly skilled workforce and competitive commercial rents. Manchester is a centre for modern, emerging industries including professional services, digital, media and tech. which provide many well-paid jobs.
Manchester is also one of the biggest student cities in Europe with around 100,000 students, including many from overseas.
Manchester city centre has undergone a transformation in recent years with city centre apartments and modern office space and some of the tallest skyscrapers in the UK.
While Manchester property prices have risen with increasing demand to buy here it’s still possible to find a property that’s well below the average house price.
Salford is often confused with Manchester. But Salford is a separate city in the Greater Manchester area. Salford benefits from the growing economy and hot jobs market of nearby Manchester city centre while also being generally a cheaper place to invest in property.
Salford has some exciting regeneration plans aimed at making Salford a better place to live and work including the £2.5bn Salford Crescent masterplan which could involve new homes, commercial space and a public realm centred around the University of Salford.
Salford Quays including Media City is a new city district with homes and commercial space where more expansion is planned.
Buy-to-Let In The North East
Over in the North East property investors might consider...
Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Newcastle for short) is a small and compact city compared to most but is the biggest city in the north-east of England.
Newcastle’s main employers include the public sector, financial and professional services, creative and digital, construction, transport and automotive industries. Newcastle is a large student city too, with a high student population (around 50,000 students) for its size.
Property in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (and nearby places such as Gateshead across the River Tyne) still represents good value by city standards.
Buy-to-Let in Yorkshire
Yorkshire is the largest county in England and offers a number of cities for buy-to-let investment.
Hull in East Yorkshire (correctly known as Kingston-upon-Hull) is a port city best known for once being a major centre for the fishing industry. However, present-day Hull has an economy based around services and manufacturing and is becoming an important centre for the renewable energy industry. Hull is a university city too.
Property investors looking for a bargain need to know that Hull has some of the cheapest investment properties in the UK.
Leeds is the main city in West Yorkshire and the fifth largest city in the UK.
Leeds is a jobs hotspot and the employment market has grown fast here in recent decades. It is a major UK centre for banking, finance and law, digital, media and creative industries plus precision manufacturing, food and drink, retail and healthcare.
Leeds also has four universities and around 65,000 students all adding to the demand for rental accommodation.
Leeds property prices have grown fast in recent years. But it’s still possible to find districts, especially just outside the city centre where house prices are well below average.
Sheffield is in South Yorkshire. Sheffield’s population is quickly approaching 600,000.
While Sheffield is known for being the one-time Steel City of the world key industries today include engineering, logistics and distribution, health and education, financial, legal and professional services and telecoms. Sheffield is also developing a reputation for advanced manufacturing.
The student accommodation sector is really important to the Sheffield property market too – Sheffield has a higher proportion of student residents than almost any other UK city.
Sheffield property prices are still well below the UK average. Rotherham nearby also offers good value property prices.
Buy-to-Let in the South
While property prices are generally higher in the south of England, there are a few stand-out cities investors might consider.
Bristol is the largest city in the south west. The Bristol economy has grown fast in recent years and the city is now a hotspot for modern industries like financial services, digital and tech.
Bristol is also a major student centre. It has four universities with over 50,000 students, boosting the demand for accommodation here.
Investors considering buy-to-let in Bristol should bear in mind that Bristol's property prices are well above the national average for England. But demand for rental property here is strong and high yields are possible for the right property.
Cambridge is known worldwide for the University of Cambridge. But Cambridge also has a worldwide reputation for its cutting-edge industries based around city’s science parks. Cambridge industries like software, research and development, pharmaceuticals and biotech provide lots of highly qualified and well-paid jobs and have made for a booming city economy.
Cambridge is one of the most expensive places to buy property in the UK. However, the city’s successful economy and huge demand for rental accommodation make it a great prospect for property investors.
Chelmsford in Essex only became a city in 2012. There are ambitious plans to expand the city, attract new businesses and new employment, expand the economy and turn Chelmsford into a significant regional city with thousands of new homes.
Another plus point for considering a Chelmsford property investment is that it is just 30 miles and around a 30-minute train journey into central London. So, Chelmsford is a great affordable option for London commuters too.
Peterborough has grown fast since being created as a new town in the 1960s and it is reported as being the fifth fastest growing city in the UK. Key employers here are advanced engineering and manufacturing, agri-tech, food and drink, digital and creative, energy and environment, and financial services.
Good reasons for considering a Peterborough property investment are its great train links to London (50 minutes). Anglia Ruskin University is opening a new campus here this year making Peterborough a student city for the first time.
Buy-to-Let in Scotland
Now to Scotland. Edinburgh can be an expensive city to invest in. But three other Scottish cities have much to offer buy-to-let investors:
Aberdeen is Scotland’s third city and is also Europe’s oil capital. The economy here is based on serving the North Sea oil industry.
The property market here is closely linked to the fortunes of oil. When oil is booming the Aberdeen property market booms, and vice versa.
Aberdeen has a strong demand for buy-to-lets and there are attractive property investment opportunities here for investors who time the market accurately.
Dundee is Scotland’s fourth largest city. The city’s economy is based on light manufacturing and services, especially financial and business services, public services and education while new future-facing industries like the biomedical, biotechnology, software and digital industries are developing here.
Dundee has benefitted from lots of regeneration in recent years including the spectacular V&A Dundee design museum. The city has also developed a reputation as a fashionable place to live and has been dubbed Scotland’s ‘capital of cool’.
Dundee has great value property too. Property prices here are around half those of Edinburgh.
Glasgow may sometimes be thought of as Scotland’s second city – but it is Scotland’s largest city by far (population of around 626,400) and one of the UK's largest cities.
The one-time shipbuilding centre of the world has reinvented itself in recent years. Glasgow is now a centre for services, digital and creative industries and is one of the largest financial services centres in Europe. It’s also one of the UK’s biggest retail centres and has a growing visitor economy.
There are some exciting redevelopment plans for Glasgow city centre, with proposals to develop the retail core with modern commercial and leisure uses, and vastly increase the city centre population with more city living.
Glasgow property prices still offer great value. The areas surrounding Glasgow have some of Scotland's (and the UK’s) cheapest property prices.
Buy-to-Let in Wales
In Wales, two cities offer great value compared to the capital Cardiff where property is relatively expensive:
Newport in South Wales is the third largest city in Wales. A former coal and steel centre its main employers are now in public services and financial services. The new Celtic Business Park has brought new jobs to Newport, and the new Glan Llyn suburb will expand the city with up to 4,000 new homes.
One of the things that makes Newport investable is its great transport links by road and rail to the bigger cities of Cardiff (12 miles) and Bristol (30 miles). Compared to these larger cities Newport is a low-cost investment location.
Swansea is the second city in Wales and has a population of around 245,000.
A one-time industrial city Swansea has benefitted from lots of regeneration in recent years with a new marina and waterfront leading to one of the UK’s only city centre beaches. More regeneration is planned, with a £1 billion strategy to repurpose the city centre with new commercial space, public space, leisure amenities and homes.
The Swansea area has some of the lowest property prices in Wales and has much cheaper buy-to-let property than nearby Cardiff.