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South West

South West England is one of nine official regions of England. It consists of the counties of Bristol, Cornwall (including the Isles of Scilly), Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. Large cities and towns in the region include Bristol, Bournemouth, Cheltenham, Exeter, Gloucester, Plymouth and Swindon. It is geographically the largest of the nine regions of England covering 9,200 square miles, but the third least-populous, with approximately five million residents.

The region includes the West Country and much of the ancient kingdom of Wessex. It includes two entire national parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor; and four World Heritage Sites: Stonehenge, the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, the Jurassic Coast and the City of Bath.

Known for its beautiful countryside and coastline, the West Country has been a firm favourite for those looking to escape the UK’s bigger cities and retire in more peaceful settings. Despite this, some of the areas larger cities are becoming more popular locations amongst companies choosing to relocate. The property market has therefore prospered with an increasing amount of young professionals choosing to settle there. Furthermore, because of its touristic positioning in the UK, the serviced accommodation model of property investment continues to thrive in this beautiful part of the country.

Bristol view

Bristol

Bristol, the largest city in the South West of England is steeped in history and culture. Famous for its iconic suspension bridge running across the river Avon, designed by legendary architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Bristol is also known fondly for its hip and trendy culture and thriving music and art scene. World-famous mystery graffiti artist, Banksy is from this charming city, where his work can be scene across Bristol.

Furthermore, Bristol is heralded as one of the nicest places to live in the UK. It won the Sunday Times best place to live award in 2017, an award it scooped three times in four years prior. Its pedigree is not only hailed within the UK but also across the world with the popular travel book publisher, Rough Guides placing it in its list of top 10 best cities in the world.

Bristol is well located, with excellent transport links to the rest of England. A train to London only takes an hour and a half and is connected by both the M4 and M5 motorways. For this reason, many large businesses such as Airbus have chosen Bristol to have their headquarters in the city. In 2019, Bristol secured the most investment of any other city in the UK, propelling it up the employment charts. As of 2019 there were 22,170 active business units in Bristol – up 3.5 per cent on the level of 2016 – according to the Office for National Statistics.

Education wise, Bristol is also seen as one of the most attractive cities to study in. With a large student population spread across two world-class universities. Bristol University consistently ranks in the worlds top 100 universities and UK’s top ten universities based on its high standard of research and teaching.

It is no wonder, then, why Bristol’s property market has boomed over the last decade. Outside of London, Bristol house prices have increased the most of any other city in the UK. In fact, Rightmove have found that six of the top ten locations where asking prices have increased the most over the past ten years are in Bristol. This is not by accident. Bristol’s distinct mix of excellent transport links, top universities, beautiful architecture and high quality of life have all added to the lure of this fantastic city.

Recently, Bristol has witnessed many workers relocating there from London and working remotely. With large amounts of green space and beautiful countryside/coastline on its doorstep, people are choosing Bristol as a city to settle in. After all, they can have a similar lifestyle to living in the capital but a far more affordable price.

With the new “working from home revolution” we are seeing across the country it is not hard to envisage the success Bristol will achieve. With increasing numbers of people moving there, it certainly offers property investors an alternative to investing in the notoriously expensive London property market.

 

Plymouth view

Plymouth

Often coined Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth has a rich history and has played an extremely important role in England over the centuries. Located in Devon in the south west of England, Plymouth held host to one of the most important battles in British history as Sir Francis Drake defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588. In fact, Sir Francis Drake, the first person to solely circumnavigate the world and one of the most decorated naval men in history, was born in this picturesque coastal city.

Over the last five years Plymouth has seen a huge revival with massive regeneration efforts underway and much more in the pipeline. Once relying almost solely on the docking industry, which sadly fell into decline, the city is starting to reinvent itself. With a vast amount of new office space and retail outlets being built over the coming years the city is pulling itself back to days of former glory. This is all being done with sustainability at the forefront of architectural plans, with lots of gardens, trees and green spaces to epitomise what an ‘Ocean City’ should be.

Property wise, Plymouth is fast becoming one of the UK’s best investment cities. With lower average house prices compared to many southern cities, a large student population of nearly 20,000, a big tourist industry and extensive plans for regeneration. Plymouth should certainly not be overlooked when deciding on the location of your next investment property.

Despite average house prices rapidly increasing in Plymouth, they are still below the £200,000 mark making them very affordable. When taking into consideration the versatility of the rental market this is an attractive prospect. Unlike a lot of cities across the UK, Plymouth attracts a huge number of tourists due to its coastal position. This means that as an investor you have the luxury of mixing the use of your investment property between short and long term lets but also serviced accommodation. With ‘staycations’ becoming increasingly popular in the UK, especially since the outbreak of Coronavirus, the serviced accommodation model in Plymouth could offer a lucrative rental option, certainly in the summer months.

Furthermore, with a large student population and a distinct lack of accommodation in the city, rental prices are relatively inflated. This gives investors a large degree of certainty that they will achieve attractive yields. In fact, Plymouth has been sitting close to the top of the rental yield tables for some time now signalling its viability as an extremely good investment location. With regenerations plans set to increase the cities lure, now could be the perfect time to invest in a buy to let property in Britain’s famous Ocean City.

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