It is common knowledge (and common sense) that university towns and cities are full of people who are natural renters. This immediately identifies them as potential buy-to-let hotspots.
Not all universities towns and cities are, however, created alike and returns can vary greatly from one location to another. Here is a quick guide to the best university towns and cities to invest in buy-to-let property.
Although probably still most famous for the Robin Hood connection, Nottingham has benefited greatly from the Northern Powerhouse initiative but has, so far, been largely overlooked by property investors, who often gravitate straight to the greater Manchester area (which is also an excellent destination for buy-to-let property investors).
Nottingham’s tertiary education sector includes the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University, the former of which houses the University of Nottingham Medical School and the latter of which owns the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies. Between them, these two universities currently have over 60,000 students, all of whom need a place to live.
Nottingham is growing in popularity as a student destination, not just because of its affordability as compared to universities further south, but also because it has to be one of the best cities in the UK (possibly the world) for people who don’t have a car. It is extremely cycle-friendly and has outstanding public transport even by the standards of the north of England.
Even in the 1980s, when Liverpool was widely regarded as a case study in everything which was wrong with Britain at the time, Liverpool still held on to its credibility as a musical hotspot and not just for the Beatles. The roll-call of famous bands and musicians from Liverpool is so extensive that Guinness World Records named it the World Capital City of Pop.
Now that the Northern Powerhouse initiative has helped to pull Liverpool out of the economic doldrums, its affordability, waterside lifestyle and cultural cachet have become a major draw to students, so it’s fortunate that Liverpool has no less than three universities: the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University, plus the internationally-renowned Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), co-founded by former Beatle, Paul McCartney.
Formerly decimated by the loss of heavy industry, Newcastle now has a health, diversified modern economy. In addition to being where many major brands have their corporate headquarters, it already has a solid retail sector and some tourism and is blossoming into a digital technology hub.
There are now good part-time job opportunities for undergraduates at the city’s two universities, Newcastle University and Northumbria University as well as good post-graduation employment prospect in the local area. Combining this with great affordability, even by the standards of northern England, plus attractive lifestyle options and it’s easy to see why Newcastle is now well-placed to compete not only against local academic institutions but also against universities in the south of England.
Mark Burns is the managing director of property investment firm Hopwood House.