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The UK’s best universities for affordable rent and high rental yields

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Research by flat-sharing website ideal flatmate has revealed the average rent prices in the areas surrounding the top-ranked universities in the United Kingdom.

Using data from PropertyData, ideal flatmate looked at the average monthly rent for the outcode (first half of the postcode) of the top 50 universities to see where provided the best mix of great students, affordable and not so affordable accommodation, and the highest rental yields for a good return on your investment for UK landlords

Most affordable

The university with the cheapest average rent price surrounding the main campus is Lancaster University, which is also ranked as the seventh-best university in the UK. With an average monthly rent cost of £598, Lancaster is ideal for tenants and is closely followed by the University of Aberdeen, where the average rent per month is £602.

While the University of Lincoln is ranked at the back end of the top 50 for performance at 42, it joins top ten universities Loughborough and Durham in rounding out the best five universities for affordable rental prices for tenants.

The average monthly rent cost around Lincoln comes in at £628, followed by Loughborough at £689 per month, just narrowly ahead of fifth-ranked Durham’s £693.

Nottingham (£728), Leicester (£737), Swansea (£767), Dundee (£784) and Liverpool (£784) also make the top 10 for the most affordable rental prices surrounding the top 50 university campuses.

Most expensive

At the other end of the list is the UK’s fifth-best university, Imperial College London, where the average monthly rent cost surrounding the main campus is a remarkable £4,142, proving incredibly expensive for students in particular.

The London School of Economics and King’s College London are tied as two of the worst universities for tenant rental affordability around the respective campuses, with rent working out at £3,159 per month on average around both universities.

University College London and SOAS University of London are also tied with an average rental cost of £2,431, meaning the top five worst universities for tenant rental affordability are all in London.

Elsewhere, Cambridge – the UK’s top-ranked university – and second-placed Oxford also neighbour each other in the lists of most expensive average rental prices. Rent costs in the surrounding areas of the two universities are among the worst in the country for tenants, with the average rent price around the University of Cambridge working out at £1,491 per month, barely cheaper than the University of Oxford’s £1,495 per month.

Highest rental yields

High rental costs might be a barrier for students, but they can be a bonus for landlords looking to invest in the buy-to-let market. That said, high rents don’t always mean a good return and despite rental prices surrounding the campus of LSE, King’s, Imperial, SOAS and University College being some of the highest in the UK, they are five of the six worst in terms of yield.

LSE and King’s offer the joint lowest yield at 2.04%, followed by Imperial with 2.52%, while the University of Bristol joins both University College London and SOAS with yields of just 2.94%.

So where is the best university buy-to-let investment?

Edinburgh, Nottingham Trent, Leicester, and Dundee offer the best options in terms of rental yields for UK landlords. All four provide yield upwards of 7%, with Edinburgh on top at 7.77%, while Liverpool follows these investment hotspots with a 6.94% yield.

Leeds also makes the top 10 with rental yields at 6.80%, followed by Strathclyde (6.64%), Northumbria (6.58%) and Newcastle (6.58%). Aberdeen completes the top 10 and is not only one of the most affordable for students but brings the 10th best return on a buy-to-let investment with yields at 6.22%.

Tom Gatzen, Co-founder of Ideal Flatmate said, “Although some of the country’s best universities are situated in London, they prove somewhat problematic for tenants and landlords alike with high costs making it hard to rent but also minimising the return on investment for landlords.

“So-called ‘university towns’ like Leeds, Nottingham and Warwick – where such a large percentage of the population are students – tend to be reliable for landlords in terms of yield, as they offer consistent demand and short vacancy periods which provide a consistent income stream.

“As for tenants – especially students – living around some of the very best unis in the UK outside of London is fairly affordable, especially when you consider that they are most likely to be sharing with a number of friends.

“Flat sharing is a great way to cut costs for any student tenant without them having to forsake their first-choice university and it’s also a great way to make new friends for life while setting you up for surviving in the ‘real-life’ rental market once you’ve graduated.”

Ranking – by lowest average rent  
ideal flatmate Rank University Average Rent (per month) University Ranking (CUG)
1st Lancaster £598 7
2nd Aberdeen £602 29
3rd Lincoln £628 42
4th Loughborough £689 8
5th Durham £693 6
6th Nottingham £728 19
7th Leicester £737 46
8th Swansea £767 35
9th Dundee £784 31
10th Liverpool £784 28
11th Leeds £793 14
12th Exeter £823 11
13th Nottingham Trent £862 38
14th Strathclyde £862 39
15th Newcastle £871 22
16th Northumbria £871 50
17th Stirling £875 43
18th Cardiff £893 26
19th York £897 30
20th Manchester £910 15
21st Harper Adams £914 27
22nd Aston £914 34
23rd Birmingham £945 13
24th Heriot-Watt £966 36
25th Sheffield £988 33
26th Glasgow £1,005 18
27th Essex £1,040 44
28th Kent £1,148 49
29th Southampton £1,161 20
30th East Anglia (UEA) £1,170 21
31st Bristol £1,174 17
32nd Warwick £1,218 12
33rd Reading £1,291 40
34th St Andrews £1,322 3
35th University for the Creative Arts £1,330 48
36th Bath £1,369 9
37th Royal Holloway, University of London £1,387 23
38th Sussex £1,417 32
39th Edinburgh £1,456 16
40th Cambridge £1,491 1
41st Oxford £1,495 2
42nd St George’s, University of London £1,746 47
43rd Surrey £1,798 24
44th Queen Mary, University of London £2,019 41
45th University College London £2,431 10
46th SOAS University of London £2,431 45
47th London School of Economics £3,159 4
48th King’s College London £3,159 25
49th Imperial College London £4,142 5
50th Queen’s, Belfast no data 37
Ranking – by highest average yield  
ideal flatmate Rank University Average Rental Yield (%) University Ranking (CUG)
1st Edinburgh 7.77% 16
2nd Nottingham Trent 7.71% 38
3rd Leicester 7.48% 46
4th Dundee 7.13% 31
5th Liverpool 6.94% 28
6th Leeds 6.80% 14
7th Strathclyde 6.64% 39
8th Northumbria 6.58% 50
9th Newcastle 6.58% 22
10th Aberdeen 6.22% 29
11th Warwick 6.04% 12
12th Nottingham 6.03% 19
13th Cardiff 6.00% 26
14th Manchester 5.72% 15
15th Southampton 5.62% 20
16th Glasgow 5.32% 18
17th Sheffield 5.27% 33
18th Surrey 4.79% 24
19th Aston 4.77% 34
20th Heriot-Watt 4.70% 36
21st Lancaster 4.54% 7
22nd Birmingham 4.47% 13
23rd Essex 4.43% 44
24th Kent 4.39% 49
25th York 4.34% 30
26th Stirling 4.18% 43
27th Bath 4.17% 9
28th East Anglia (UEA) 4.13% 21
29th St Andrews 4.12% 3
30th Exeter 4.07% 11
31st Harper Adams 3.94% 27
32nd Loughborough 3.93% 8
33rd Sussex 3.91% 32
34th St George’s, University of London 3.89% 47
35th Durham 3.81% 6
36th Queen Mary, University of London 3.81% 41
37th Cambridge 3.78% 1
38th Reading 3.71% 40
39th Swansea 3.66% 35
40th Oxford 3.64% 2
41st Royal Holloway, University of London 3.58% 23
42nd Lincoln 3.48% 42
43rd University for the Creative Arts 3.39% 48
44th SOAS University of London 2.94% 45
45th University College London 2.94% 10
46th Bristol 2.94% 17
47th Imperial College London 2.52% 5
48th King’s College London 2.04% 25
49th London School of Economics 2.04% 4
50th Queen’s, Belfast no data 37
Sources:  
Uni Rankings The Complete University Guide
Average rent and yield by outcode PropertyData
Uni postcodes The Complete University Guide and university websites



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