04 Sep by Laura Howard

Leave London Behind and Hit the North

Is it Time to Leave London Behind and Hit the North?

London is full of people leaving their homes. High house prices, a sagging property market, an ever-increasing cost of living and a growing population have made life a lot less fun for all concerned. House prices in London have increased by 70% over the last ten years. The result is as sizeable as it is inevitable: huge numbers, hundreds of thousands, of people are upping sticks and heading away from the capital.

To be exact, a whopping 330,000 people took flight as their eyes began to sting from the Big Smoke. Who could blame them? To live and work in London has become a trial by fire for many people and their bank accounts. The average rent in the city has climbed above £2,000 per month for the first time. In contrast, the average monthly rent outside of London is a much more favourable £796. Capital residents struggle with a cost of living that far exceeds and outstrips other places in the UK. The most significant demographic drain from London’s exodus has been from professionals in their 30s. Even those with generous salaries find it difficult to cope with the avalanche of high costs and spiralling rent.

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North West is Best

There are plenty of alternatives in the UK, and the smart money is heading further north than ever before. The latest research shows that greater numbers of London leavers are going further afield. The number of people moving 200 miles north of London has increased by 371%. That is the approximate distance between the capital and the UK’s ‘second city’, Manchester. Based on current trends and the growing appeal of the North West of England, this is no happy accident.

Manchester and neighbouring Liverpool are the fastest-growing cities in the UK; the nouveau riche Northern Powerhouse entities that have positioned themselves as viable economic contenders to London’s throne. Most importantly to those at the heart of London’s mass migration, Manchester and Liverpool are much cheaper options. That doesn’t mean a shortage of quality in what’s available to new arrivals in either city.

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The North West has plenty to offer the discerning professional. The slow decay of London’s housing and property market and the subsequent squeeze of ordinary people from the capital’s property ladder has led to a steep decline in the city’s cultural character. World-famous venues, restaurants and bars are feeling the pinch; consequently, there is a vacuum that is not being filled.

That is not the case in cities like Liverpool and Manchester. Both cities are enjoying a cultural and work-based renaissance. Liverpool has seen the wild upswing of the Baltic Triangle area; a bustling new home for the city’s artists, start-ups, young entrepreneurs and food and drink denizens. The Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters projects are some of the biggest regenerative undertakings in UK history.

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Consider Manchester

Manchester city centre and its surrounding areas have seen a surge in properties under development. Between Manchester, Salford and Salford Quays there are 15,000 new developments under construction. Key to this has been a substantial increase in demand for city-centre living; the city centre population has grown by 700% since the turn of the century. Add to this extensive regeneration projects that rival their neighbours in Liverpool, and it’s a perfect storm that has enveloped the Manchester property investment market.

Due to open at the end of 2019, the £1bn St John’s development will see the construction of up to 3,000 homes, 320 hotel rooms, 560,000 square feet of workspace as well as 240,000 square feet of retail space. St John’s will be situated next to Spinningfields, the luxury development that has quickly become a leading business quarter in the UK.

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Manchester Business Scene

The recent relocations of BBC and ITV to MediaCityUK in Salford have positioned Manchester as a leading media hub. The potential arrival of Channel 4 in either Manchester or Salford will only increase the city’s profile and prestige. Many of those leaving London may well be involved in media, digital work or other employment sectors that orbit around these three major organisations. Former Londoners seeking a new home may, for this reason, find setting up in Manchester to be a seamless transition.

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Leave the Capital

The growing exodus from London to the North means big things for buy to let property investors. Both Liverpool and Manchester already enjoy an enticing combination of some of the lowest prices in the country along with the highest rental yields.

The latest property price index figures put Manchester at the top of the UK’s 20 largest cities. Capital appreciation growth for the 12 months to the end of June 2018 came to a staggering 7.4% against a national average of 4.6%. By comparison, over the same 12-month period, London’s capital appreciation grew by 0.7%, one of the smallest figures in the country. Liverpool and Birmingham rounded off the top three with 7.2% and 6.8% respectively.

Investors holding properties are beset by demand for the high-end luxury living spaces that are being developed and sold. New arrivals from London to the North West will find themselves able to afford incredible developments situated in the heart of rejuvenated and regenerated cities. For many, the answer seems obvious: leave London property investment behind and hit the North!

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