University Cities Offer The Best Returns for Property Investors

Every year thousands of people flock to university towns in search of opportunities, but it isn’t just the students that can benefit from what a university city has to offer. Development and growth provides a wealth of investment possibilities for the surrounding areas; and it just so happens that the best rental yields on offer tend to be within easy reach of a university. This post will take a look at our top picks for university cities offering the best returns.


According to data collated by TotallyMoney, six of the twenty top rental yield earning postcodes were in Liverpool last year. The world famous docks are being revamped whilst protecting the Docks’ World Heritage status, there is residential development springing up as part of the new Paddington Village, and the development of a new Creativity District will house some of the many vibrant and successful creative businesses that Liverpool boasts.

Liverpool John Lennon Airport saw 5 million passengers in 2018 and has been increasing the numbers of flights and routes available. The coach park is expanding to encourage more domestic tourism and London is reachable in just over 2 hours by train. There are even plans to build a new cruise terminal! The University of Liverpool attracts 35,000 students, including 8000 from around the world, many of whom will choose to make Liverpool their home post-graduation.


Leeds is a growing city that is seeing an increased interest. Channel 4 have recently moved their headquarters there, and there are plans to bring some of the more historic buildings into media usage. The Tetley contemporary art centre receives regular funding from the Arts Council and has had 600,000 visitors in the past five years. The South Bank regeneration project will see Leeds city centre double in size and two state-of-the-art hospitals are being built to provide for the city’s inhabitants.

Leeds is already home to the busiest train station in the North, with 30,000 daily commuters passing through, and it is set to capitalise on the improved links to London that will come with the HS2 railway. Improved cycling and pedestrian routes will make it easier for the students from the four universities and the newly opened Construction College to get around whilst also making the city more user-friendly for visitors. Leeds is thriving, and with rental yields of up to 7.92% it could really boost your buy-to-let portfolio.


Another city set to benefit from the HS2 route is Sheffield. The fourth largest city in Britain, Sheffield has two universities and has an enviable music scene. It is also the greenest city in Europe, which could be why it attracts such a large number of graduates and is seeing increasing numbers of international students enrolling each year. The population is growing; there is a predicted increase of almost 15% in the next 15 years. As new residents arrive and regeneration projects complete, the current rental yields of up to 7.63% could skyrocket.

The historic Parkwood ski village is facing a revamp, with plans to develop it into a sports and leisure space to complement the range of outdoor activities that the Peak District provides just half an hour drive away. The redevelopment of retail areas is also attracting vast amounts of investment, for example the Moors Markets host over 90 independent businesses as well as established chains and restaurants.


Bolton may not be the first city you think of when considering bustling university cities but you can expect high rental yields, and that’s even before they’ve completed the billion-pound regeneration of the city centre. The night-life is thriving, transport links to major cities like Liverpool and Manchester are quick and convenient and the cost of living is relatively low. The university currently has around 11,000 students on campus who consistently rate it highly for student satisfaction, which will no doubt help them in meeting their aim of 20,000 students in Bolton for the 2020 intake. After all, they’ll need new students to populate the new bioscience learning spaces and to utilise the Bolton One health, leisure and research centre. As a city it is very much up-and-coming, making it a great site for property investment.


Bradford boasts a young and multicultural population. It is a UNESCO city of film thanks to its rich heritage, and is relaunching it’s famous film festival next year. The Townscape Heritage Scheme is investing millions in protecting and restoring historical buildings and there are several commercial developments appearing as part of the M62 corridor. As well as being well-connected by road, Bradford has two airports within an hours distance and the Bradford interchange houses coach, rail and bus facilities. With so many people building their lives in Bradford there is a sustained demand for rental property.


Manchester has the largest student population in the UK, with 40,000 students and almost every country of the world represented. As such, it attracts a significant amount of foreign investment and has a number of confirmed large-scale developments planned. They include a new creative space called The Factory – a city centre home for opera, art, music and community – that will attract up to 850,000 people per year, as well as laying new tracks and completing a huge overhaul of the railway. With so much more to come, Manchester looks set to remain a firm favourite for tenants and investors alike.


Sunderland is another hidden gem. The university has several campuses and has recently seen the arrival of a brand new School of Medicine. It is renowned for providing opportunities for under-represented students to study and has a proven track record for graduate employment. With miles of beautiful beaches, a Metro system servicing the Tyne and Wear region and a huge commitment to the regeneration of the Riverside district, Sunderland will continue to offer great returns for buy-to-let investors.

There are many great reasons to build a buy-to-let portfolio in university cities but these six locations tick all of the boxes with their great transport links, thriving communities and drastic plans for improvement and growth. These desirable cities will have no shortage of potential tenants in the years to come, making them ideal investments for those looking to buy, let, and then reap the returns.