rental yields landlords city

The city living debate: what today’s renters really want

People often gravitate towards certain areas depending on their stage in life, whether that’s town, city or country, and it’s interesting to note the latest trends in the UK rental scene. 

On a general level, many young professionals will gravitate towards city centre or town centre living towards the start of their careers, due to the lifestyle they are seeking. The benefits include being closer to work, having amenities on your doorstep, and enjoying a fast and modern pace of life.

With people now more likely to rent – often with groups of friends in flat shares or houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) – until a later age, this has increased the desirability of city centre locations. Certain cities, such as Birmingham and Manchester, have risen through the ranks as places to settle.

However, a range of factors has influenced this trend recently, including the cost of living crisis, rising rents and higher mortgage rates. More would-be first-time buyers seem to be staying in the rental sector for longer, but some are now looking for cheaper places to live as a result.

According to Rightmove’s latest figures, this has led to a rise in renters leaving behind city living, as they seek more affordable accommodation in areas where demand is lower. Away from cities, there can sometimes be less competition for rental homes, with greater choice of property and lower rents.

Some renters looking to leave the city

Due to the appetite to live in central locations, property stock levels have been struggling to keep up with the amount of demand – and this applies to both the sales and the lettings markets. Although many areas are being targeted by regeneration and redevelopment schemes, there remains a shortage of homes.

According to Rightmove, this has led to a rise in the number of tenants exploring new areas outside of cities, with 54% of renters across 10 major cities looking to move elsewhere during 2023. This is 3% higher than the number of renters seeking to leave their cities in 2022.

The data shows that in Birmingham in 2023, 57% of renters enquired about homes away from the city centre, up from 54% in 2022. In Manchester, this figure was 62%, up from 57%, while 45% of Liverpool’s tenants were looking at alternative locations, compared with 43% in 2022.

London saw one of the biggest percentage jumps in tenants looking to leave, from 40% in 2022 to 45% in 2023.

However, UK tenants are still particularly keen on these locations, even if they end up living within commuting distance in the surrounding areas.

Rightmove found that London was the most searched for renter location in 2023, followed by Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow, Birmingham and Liverpool.

The latest tenant wish list

The needs and wants of tenants are constantly changing, and it is important for buy-to-let landlords and property investors to consider these trends when looking at properties to buy, or considering any improvements to their existing portfolio.

Tenants are more likely to stay in their homes for longer if the property fulfils their needs, which is positive for the landlord as they can achieve better rental yields with fewer void periods.

Rightmove’s research found that properties that allow pets were one of the top searches for tenants in 2023. The upcoming Renters Reform Bill is set to tackle this issue, bringing in more rights for tenants to be able to request a pet at their property, so is something all landlords should be aware of.

Bills included was another common search topic. HMOs are more likely to be rented out with bills included, as it can make it easier to manage due to each inhabitant having a separate tenancy agreement, and there is research to show that HMOs are becoming more popular in the current market.

A high number of tenants were also seeking furnished properties in 2023, as well as a garage and a garden, so these are factors for landlords to bear in mind.

BuyAssociation has a range of property investment opportunities available, whether you’re looking for a city centre location, a property in a high-yielding commuter belt, or something different. Get in touch today for more information.

Self-certified Sophisticated Investor

Please read

I declare that I am a self-certified sophisticated investor for the purposes of the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. I understand that this means:

I am a self-certified sophisticated investor because at least one of the following applies:

I accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose me to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested. I am aware that it is open to me seek advice from someone who specialises in advising on non-mainstream pooled investments.

High Net Worth Investor

Please read

I make this statement so that I can receive promotional communications which are exempt from the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. The exemption relates to certified high net worth investors and I declare that I qualify as such because at least one of the following applies to me:


Sign up for first access to new developments and exclusive property investment opportunities.

We send limited and targeted emails on new launches and exclusive deals which best fit your areas. We are trusted by over 30,000 active buyers as their source for new stock.

  • New property developments
  • Professional market reports
  • Property deal alerts
  • Development updates
Manchester property investment


Receive trending news straight to your inbox and stay up to date on all of the property market trends and advice.

Established since 2005 we are a leading voice of authority and commentary on the UK property market. Our news is trusted by Apple News & Google News.

  • UK housing market
  • Mortgage & money
  • Buy-to-let landlords
  • Guides & advice

Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today:


+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT


+852 6699 9008

Open from 9am-6pm HKT