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    Reading

    Reading is located on the river Thames, 40 miles west of London and 25 miles south of Oxford. It holds the quirky title of being the largest town in the UK with a growing population of 342,000. Despite only having town status, Reading is comfortably the size of most cities in the UK with the amenities, transport links and well-paid jobs to match.

    Reading was historically a modest centre for light manufacturing but has taken on a more prominent role in the UK economy in the last couple of decades. It has now transformed into a centre for IT, telecommunications and digital businesses. With a huge amount of technical start-ups arising each year, Reading is known as the Silicon Valley of the UK and boasts a large number of multinational corporations. With a strong employment market and very well-paid jobs, Readings rental growth has been very impressive, providing investor landlords with an attractive option when choosing their next buy to let property.

    Holding a very strategic location in the UK, Reading boasts excellent national and international transport links. Situated on the M4, Reading has strong road links to the west of England with Newbury, Swindon and Bristol all driving distance. London can be accessed easily by road and within 25 minutes by train, making it a favourite amongst those preferring to commute than live in London. Furthermore, Reading is only 25 miles from Heathrow airport which allows far-reaching international travel. On top of the existing transport connections, Reading will also be serviced by the brand-new Crossrail line running from West to East London. This will allow commuters to get to a wider number of central London locations quicker than ever before. The lure of better transport links will undoubtedly propel Readings already fast-paced property price growth and ensure the rental market remains strong.

    It is because of Readings fantastic location, excellent transport links and more affordable office space that it is seen as such a good destination for businesses. The UK 2019 Digital Technology Census placed Reading as the UK’s third largest digital technology city, with only London and Manchester being larger. Furthermore, consultants at EY have found that Reading is the fastest growing city in the UK. Across the city and in its many business parks, many major global companies can be found In Reading. These include, amongst others, HP, Microsoft, Oracle, Sanofi, Huawei, 3M and PwC. Other significant employers include Royal Berkshire Hospital and the University of Reading, which ranks in the top 200 universities in the world.

    With regards to property, Reading is certainly not the cheapest place in the UK with an average purchase price of £360,000. Although there are many more affordable places to invest in the UK, Reading offers something many northern cities do not: an easy commute to London. This alone will ensure property prices will continually grow, especially as large companies continue to relocate there. In the last 25 years, property prices in Reading have increased by an astonishing five times. A trend set only to continue. Furthermore, rental yields are still reasonably attractive and typically lie in the region between 4.6% and 4.9%, not dissimilar to cities like Manchester and Birmingham.

    As Reading continues its push for city status, its status as an investment hotspot is firmly established and increasing year on year. With the arrival of the new cross rail line, we expect house prices to increase further. As with any property investment, waiting is never usually a wise decision and now might just be the right time to invest in Reading.

    Slough

    Slough is a large town and borough 20 miles to the west of central London. For much of the 90’s the town was often deemed an ugly and down-trodden commuter town near London. However, since the turn of the millennium, Slough has prospered hugely from huge private and public investment. As London has become increasingly expensive to live in, Slough has begun attracting a large number of workers that can live more affordably but still be close to the capital. Furthermore, as commercial office space and business rates have become gradually more costly in London, companies are looking at alternative locations for their offices and workforce. Slough has been a firm favourite destination for company migration and now has the highest concentration of UK headquarters of global companies outside of London. Slough’s prominence at the top of business charts does not stop there. In the UK’s 2020 City Report which measures the progress of UK towns and cities, Slough features heavily. To share just a few of the statistics reported on, Slough:

    • Has the 2nd highest weekly workplace earnings after London.
    • Is in the top 10 cities with the highest start up rate.
    • Has the 7th most businesses per capita in the UK.
    • 2nd highest proportion of private sector jobs compared to public sector jobs.
    • Highest GDP per worker in the UK.

    These statistics are quite remarkable considering Slough was once deemed a place not worth living in. In fact, in 2017 it was named the best place to live and work in the UK by job site Glassdoor. It is hailed as a “prime spot” for jobs, cost of living and worker satisfaction in research conducted by the popular job website.

    One of the key reasons for this rise to prominence is Slough’s fantastic transport connections to London, other parts of the UK and international destinations. It is a mere 20-minute train journey from Slough to Paddington Station in central London. From Paddington there are fast train links nearby to the rest of the UK and to Europe. The town has direct access to the M4 Motorway which connects slough to towns such as Reading, Swindon, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff. Furthermore, Slough is within a 10-minute drive of Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest international airports in the world.

    Despite the amazing existing transport links, Slough is about to receive an even bigger boost with the opening of the £14.8 billion Crossrail route. This new high frequency, high-capacity railway will connect even more commuter towns to central London locations such as Paddington, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf. When it opens in 2021, an extra 1.5 million people will be within 45 minutes of central London, Slough being a town directly on the new railway line.

    The new line will have a monumental impact on an already flourishing property market. As London property prices have become more unaffordable, Slough offers workers an alternative outside the capital. Slough’s average property prices, although still high, are an astonishing £250,000 lower than London’s £630,000. This means investors can purchase property in touching distance of London, in an area with high rentals and almost certain strong capital growth for a much more affordable price. Furthermore, with expected yields of 4-5% you really do benefit from both strong yields and capital growth, something many UK cities fail to do.

    All in all, Slough is certainly a very good proposition and one that should be strongly considered.  With towns inside the London Commuter Belt continuing to prosper and the introduction of even better transport links with the new Crossrail line, Slough is certain of success. The additional workers and businesses expected to arrive over the next year will push up rent prices and therefore house prices. It would be wise to invest sooner rather than later in this fast-growing town

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