We’ve sized up the opportunity in the suburbs and analysed the resurgence of the commuter town. In this article, the REalyst weighs in on the facts and figures, looking at how suburban demographics are shaping the rental market on the outskirts of our cities.
Read Time: 4 Minutes
The rise of the renter has been rapid. In London alone, renters outnumber homeowners. Other major UK cities are also seeing higher demand in the private rental sector (PRS), as house prices in the UK skyrocket and leave Generation Rent with few other options.
The increase in people renting has even seen new legislation in the PRS with the banning of tenant fees. Average tenancies are increasing to longer terms than the initial 12 months and, for many, the desire to own bricks and mortar doesn’t seem to be as pressing as it once was – partly because properties are no longer affordable.
We are very much living in ‘the age of the renter’ in all senses. A recent study from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that households in the PRS are getting older, with the proportion of households aged 45 to 54 having increased from 11% to 16% between 2007 and 2017. All the while the number of people renting has doubled in the last 20 years.
Forty-somethings are now almost twice as likely to rent from a private landlord than they were just 10 years ago. From rising house prices to relationship breakups, older tenants are finding themselves renting again.
Not every tenant is renting out of necessity, though. For many, the idea of renting is more appealing: renters can often live in a home they wouldn’t be able to afford to buy, therefore enjoying a higher quality of living. This is a growing trend for many families, who are laying down roots in the PRS.
While larger cities still dominate the rental statistics, many areas in the suburbs have become appealing alternatives. The suburbs were once seen as somewhere people went to buy property, usually having rented previously in the city. Though, it would seem that the tide has turned.
Today, the split is more even, and a growing number of people enjoy private rental accommodation on the outskirts of big cities. The suburbs of London is perhaps the most obvious example, where commuter towns are again on the rise.
So, why are people moving to the suburbs to rent? One of the main factors is the spiralling costs of rental property in larger cities. In London, the average rental price is over £650 per week. Much like the sales market, heading further out of the city will also see your money go much further in the rental market.
£650 per week equates to a two-bedroom apartment in the capital. Head to counties on the outskirts of London, such as Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey, and those figures will see you renting three and four bedroom homes – much more appealing if you’re a family with two or three children.
Technological advancements have meant an increase in remote working, which also plays a factor in people choosing where they live. The need to be close to a big city isn’t as pressing as it once was – though many people prefer to stay within decent proximity.
Over the last few years, the Hertfordshire area of Stevenage has become a rental hotspot. The last 12 months have seen more people renting, with the swing now sitting at an even split between renters and owners. Transport links into the heart of London in just 25 minutes is one of the main drivers behind Stevenage’s popularity.
The Essex town of Brentwood is popular for commuters heading to London. With a median age of 44, residents make up a slighter older demographic. Renting in the area is on the rise, with almost 66% renting privately compared to 40% who own.
The town of Altrincham is situated in Greater Manchester, just 10 miles from the city centre of Manchester. An area that was once considered somewhere people go to buy is now populated mostly by renters, with 70% renting and 30% owning their home.
Another town with a median age in the forties, Weybridge has seen an increase in the number of private renters, which currently sits at 62%. The Surrey town has trains to London Waterloo in just over half an hour.
Named as one of the best places to live in the Midlands in 2017, Leamington Spa is around a 40-minute drive to Birmingham. Stratford-upon-Avon and Coventry are also easily accessible. The town represents a commuter area where renting has overtaken buying: 78% of its population privately rent, while 22% are homeowners.
Browsing the news would have you believe that the PRS is compartmentalised to younger age demographics in built-up cities. The reality, however, paints a different picture. Areas in the suburbs are becoming increasingly popular for rental properties, and the age demographics vary from younger renters to those well into their forties.
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