A Guide to Investing In Student Property in Leeds
Our guide to student property in Leeds aims to give prospective investors an insight into the fantastic opportunities available in this constantly evolving part of West Yorkshire. We’ll take a look at the local area and its economic development, as well as exploring why the many opportunities for further education in Leeds are capable of attracting students from all over the world. Let’s jump straight in.
Leeds at a glance
The West Yorkshire city of Leeds has seen some dramatic changes over recent years. The former mill town has developed into a buzzing cultural hub and the youthful urban scene is a major contributing factor to the city’s growing popularity with students.
With a population in excess of 750,000, Leeds is the third largest city in the UK and it boasts the fourth largest urban economy, trailing only to London, Manchester and Birmingham.
Transport links to the city are good too. Leeds Bradford International Airport is a mere 7 miles northwest of the city centre and the road network includes M62/M621 for easy access to Manchester in the west and Hull in the east. The M1 can be picked up south of the city too, conveniently connecting this part of West Yorkshire with The South.
One of the biggest changes the city has seen over recent years is the driving force behind its economy. Once predominantly a manufacturing city, Leeds has now flipped over to become a largely service-based economy. The financial and services industry was reported to be worth £2.1 billion back in 2011 and with around 150 law firms in the city, Leeds is now widely regarded as having a legal market second only to London.
Banking is another huge player in the overall economy of the city. Leeds has over 30 national and international banks based within its boundaries, many of which are extremely large operations. First Direct, for instance, has its headquarters here.
Despite the dramatic change from manufacturing to the service sector, Leeds is remarkably still the third largest manufacturing centre in the United Kingdom. Around 1,800 manufacturing firms are based within the city, employing in excess of 39,000 workers (just under 9% of the entire city’s workforce); however many of the traditional industries, such as wool mills and iron foundries, have now been replaced by modern businesses. Amongst the biggest in the area are chemical and medical technology providers, printing and publishing houses and many companies from the food and drinks industry.
Retail is another huge contributor to the city’s economy. Several large shopping centres can now be found in and around Leeds and it is thought that the figure for those working in retail is now well over 40,000. However, 75% of those in the retail sector are no longer based in the city centre itself; further proof of the changing economic landscape of the region and the country as a whole.
Leeds has changed beyond all recognition over the last 30 years or so. Many of the formerly rundown areas of the city are now pristine and they’re attracting young professionals in their droves. Thanks to the changing face of the economic sectors driving the city’s growth, Leeds now has a new dynamic that is bringing in (and retaining) some of the United Kingdom’s brightest talent.
Areas such as the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool canal have been transformed, with many new properties adorning the towpath alongside fabulous renovated warehouse dwellings. City professionals are now able to live within a stone’s throw of their offices, and the knock-on effect to other properties in the area has been positive.
Leeds City Council has put forward plans to change the housing landscape of the region over the coming decade. The city’s current housing shortage is expected to worsen over the next few years as demand grows at an unprecedented rate.
The proposals, which were made in early 2015, would see an additional 66,000 homes built in the city by 2028 – an investment that would certainly benefit the city as a whole. However, many of the proposed locations have been seen as controversial and have even been met with resistance from some quarters.
If the proposals do go through, further investment in the local infrastructure is expected to follow. The prospect of new schools, transport links and improved healthcare facilities could see demand rise further still in the city.
Why choose to invest in Leeds?
As one of the three points that make up the ‘Golden Triangle of The North’ or ‘Betty’s Triangle’ (named after the famous tearooms) as the locals affectionately refer to it, Leeds is an investor’s paradise.
Thanks to the booming financial district, Leeds has become an extremely affluent city. Corporate giants such as RBS and Direct Line have boosted the West Yorkshire city’s economy no end and they’ve created a buzz that has attracted canny investors from this country and abroad.
Much of the renowned Golden Triangle’s (with Harrogate and York being the other points) property portfolio performed very well during the economic downturn. In fact, many properties saw an increase in value when the rest of the country was struggling to maintain theirs.
Where other towns and cities in the north rely heavily on attracting tourists to boost the local economy, Leeds’ wealth is predominantly home-grown. As more and more companies like Asda Walmart, Capita and First Direct choose to base their headquarters there, so the talent pool grows. Even the Bank of England has its second office here!
Alongside this is a growing international airport that connects the city to America, Europe and North Africa, as well as great road and rail links to the rest of the United Kingdom. Proposals have also been made to build a HS2 station as part of a massive regeneration project that will see Leeds South Bank completely transformed.
Investing in Leeds is an opportunity not to be missed. The city’s educational facilities rival many of the countries other seats of learning and the burgeoning economy looks set to retain many graduates once they complete their degrees. This increase in talent can only push Leeds’ already thriving city economy further forward over the coming years.
The city’s seats of learning
Leeds boasts three universities as well as many other institutions offering further education to those from the city and beyond. In fact, the student population of the city is ever growing and a good percentage of those studying in Leeds are foreign students – prime candidates for the rental market.
To get a better feel for the city’s educational landscape, let’s take a look at the three universities in a little more depth:
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is the largest of the three in terms of student numbers. Over 30,000 people study here, making it the eighth largest university in the UK with respect to those who pass through its doors each year.
Situated within walking distance of Leeds city station and the city centre, this university has students from all over the world within its community. Former students have come from 186 different countries across the globe and there are currently 146 different nationalities studying here.
Students are not the only ones to benefit from the University of Leeds’ existence. The local community is helped out by around 2,000 student volunteers and it is estimated that £1.23 billion is pumped into the local economy each and every year. There is also an additional £211 million spent by students per year on rent and living costs.
The University of Leeds has an extremely proactive student union with over 250 clubs and societies in operation. They are also the only student union in the country to have received two gold standard awards for the Students’ Union Evaluation Initiative.
Leeds Beckett University
The second largest university in Leeds, Beckett has two campuses; one located in the city centre and the other in nearby Headingley. Formerly known as Leeds Metropolitan University and Leeds Polytechnic, Leeds Beckett has over 28,000 students on its books and is a major contributor to the local economy.
An estimated £477 million is contributed year on year from the university into the economy and they employ around 2,900 members of staff. Just as with the University of Leeds, students travel from far and wide to take their place and there are currently students from almost 100 different countries studying a vast array of subjects.
The university has an outstanding success rate too for those who have studied there. A survey undertaken by Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) showed that 95.5% of UK postgraduates were either in work or higher education six months after leaving the university.
Leeds Trinity University
Based in Horsforth, Leeds Trinity University is the smallest of the three universities by quite a margin. Nevertheless, with only 3,000 students, Leeds Trinity punches above its weight in terms of success and satisfaction.
The Sunday Times ranked Leeds Trinity in the top 10% UK institutions for teaching excellence and the overall satisfaction of students is high at 86%, above the national average.
Leeds Trinity has recently stated that they aim to deliver growth in the amount of foreign students that they serve by establishing international partnerships with other like-minded institutions across the globe.
With so much interest in the city’s educational facilities, it’s little wonder that the student property market is seeing such impressive returns on investment.
Student life: Why Leeds is so popular
As we’ve already touched on, Leeds is on the up. The city has shed its once dour image and is fast becoming one of the UK’s cultural hotspots. Couple this with the fantastic further education opportunities on offer and it’s easy to see why students are choosing Leeds over many of the other major university cities in Britain.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why students are making Leeds their first choice:
Things to do
With its rich and long established heritage, Leeds is an amazing place to live. For those with a passion for a little retail therapy it’s hard to beat, and many regard Leeds as one of the finest shopping cities in the north of England. Shopping centres are plentiful, but there is also a large community of independent traders with vintage stores and tiny boutiques popping up across the city.
Food is another draw. Forget the chain restaurants (although they’re all here), once again it’s the independents that steal the show. Cafes and small family run restaurants have some incredible edibles to keep even the most ardent foodie happy.
Leeds also has a good selection of cinemas too; from mainstream blockbuster screeners through to more low-key productions shown at the very highly regarded Hyde Park Picture House – there’s something for everyone here.
For those looking for a sportier way to pass the time, Leeds doesn’t disappoint. With plenty of places to play and watch all manner of sports (the football and rugby teams being particularly famous), students can fill their time easily in and around the city.
Naturally, students are going to flock to a city with fantastic nightlife and Leeds certainly provides that. As with the many daytime activities, the nightlife in the West Yorkshire city is eclectic and interesting. Chain establishments sit side-by-side with quirky bars and clubs, making Leeds one of the finest cities in the UK for a night out.
Live music has a great scene here too. As well as being the joint host of the annual “Reading and Leeds festival”, Leeds also boasts the O2 Academy (just off Millennium Square). To cap it off, Leeds is home to a multitude of smaller music venues that give the city the diversity so many students crave.