Best cities for renters in the UK

  • 09th Feb 22
Best cities for renters in the UK

Build to Rent is growing in the regions and outpacing London. We look at the highlights in popular Build to Rent cities: Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, and Brighton.

Growth in the regions

Recent analysis produced by the British Property Federation shows the Build to Rent pipeline grew by 8% in 2021, with construction in regional cities outpacing London. There are now 70,785 completed Build to Rent units in the UK, which is a 26% increase year-on-year. There are also 141,215 units under construction or at the planning stage, which is up from 131,190 in 2020.

What are the benefits

The huge growth in Build to Rent is not just about fixing the problem of undersupply in the housing market, it is also a major economic driver. In cities outside of London, it helps to retain and attract talented and skilled workers. This then has a positive impact by acting as a catalyst for urban regeneration, revitalising towns, and city centres.

Build to Rent hotspots

As well as London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, and Brighton have all been cited as Build to Rent hotspots. With renters expected to outnumber homeowners by 2039 and more people choosing to live out of the capital for a higher standard of living at a more affordable price, these cities are expected to continue to be popular option for tenants.


From a working, urban past to a cool creative vibe, Manchester is at the forefront of innovation.

  • Who lives here – there’s a huge media professional community with the BBC partly relocating to media city as well as being the city attracting start-ups.
  • Value for money – Manchester has everything that London has to offer but without the hefty living costs. From rents through to the cost of a night out, Manchester is about 35% cheaper than London.
  • Fresh air – escaping a busy city is easy in Manchester with the Peak District, Lake District, and coast just a short trip away.
  • Transport – the city’s Manchester Metrolink is reliable and considerably cheaper than a zone 1-6 London travelcard. The city is also close to Manchester Airport, which flies directly to many popular destinations.
  • Sports and culture – with two Premier League winning football teams, football is prominent in the city. However, it is also home to several of the UK’s best art galleries and museums too.
  • Lifestyle – there are 99,000 students in Greater Manchester which shines through in the city’s vibrant lifestyle. There is no end of cool vintage shops, boutique stores, independent coffee shops and buzzing bars and restaurants.


With the stunning beauty of the Yorkshire Dales just on the doorstep, Leeds is a fast-growing city with a diverse economy.

  • Tech giants – Leeds is a key hub in the new media sector with more than 30% of the UK’s internet traffic passing through the city. It has a growing concentration of private sector and high skilled job opportunities.
  • Value for money – even though Leeds boasts desirable residences, smart, modern offices, cool bars, independent coffee shops and boutiques, you will pay a fraction of the price to frequent these places when compared to London.
  • Culture – from music festivals to museums, cinemas, and theatres such as the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Leeds Grand Theatre, Leeds offers a perfect combination of culture with the scenic walks of the Dales just outside the city.


As the UK’s second-largest city, Birmingham has a great selection of property types to choose from. Canal-side city-centre flats, family homes and suburban properties all feature in the Build to Rent sector.  

  • Travel – fantastic transport links makes Birmingham popular with many people looking for connectivity. It has two main train stations and the largest bus network outside of London.
  • Regeneration – the city is virtually unrecognisable from the Birmingham of old with a huge amount of investment pumped into it, making it one of the most significant city centre regeneration schemes in Europe.
  • Media centre – 5G mobile communications is being tested in Birmingham and the West Midlands area. There are also plans to create a media village to capitalise on Birmingham’s reputation as a filming location.
  • Business hotspot – major global corporations have selected Birmingham as their headquarters for their UK arm over the years, creating huge employment opportunities.
  • Quality of life – according to a report by PwC, Birmingham ranks higher in terms of quality of life than Los Angeles, Rome, Shanghai, and Dubai. It has more than 8,000 acres of parks and open space and more miles of canals than Venice.
  • Lifestyle – Birmingham is a foodie capital with Michelin-starred restaurants and vibrant gastropubs. There is plenty of cultural activities with the world-renowned Symphony Hall and the Birmingham Hippodrome. The city will also be hosting the Commonwealth Games this year.


Just 50 miles from London, Brighton is on the south coast and a hugely popular location with professionals, families, and commuters alike.

  • Travel – if you are working in London but want to live away from the hustle of the Capital, Brighton is the closest coastal city. More than 355 trains make the journey to and from the capital.
  • Lifestyle – Brighton is on the stunning Sussex coastline and offers an eclectic mix of people, shops, restaurants, and businesses. It has a unique quality to it, which is highlighted with the Lanes, an iconic location with independent coffee shops, bars, and boutiques.
  • Careers – many people commute to London for work, taking advantage of the significantly lower cost of living. It is a creative area with a range of jobs and is becoming a centre for digital technology and the arts.
  • Transport – Brighton is very easy to walk around and there is an excellent bus system allowing residents to travel across the city easily.
  • Families – situated on the coast, it is no surprise that Brighton is popular with families. There is a fantastic community spirit and the amenities that you would expect from a big city. There are plenty of schooling options with many being highly regarded.




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