What effect does population have on rental prices?

Warren Lewis
15th August 2019
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Newly released research by room share platform, ideal flatmate, takes a look at the impact population size has on rental prices in major cities and towns across England and Wales.

Using government data on private rents and population figures, ideal flatmate looked at the average rental price across cities within certain population brackets, starting at 50,000 to 100,000 people and climbing.

The highest average rental cost is found in the nation’s most major cities with a population above 500,000 people which is perhaps to be expected as these cities traditional attract the greatest level of tenant demand while house prices see many priced out of buying. Bradford, Birmingham, London, Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester are home to an average rental cost of £865 with rents ranging between £530 and £1,727, the highest of all population brackets.

But it isn’t as straight forward as the larger the population the higher the rental price. In fact, towns and cities with smaller population sizes are actually home to some of the next highest average rents.

The smallest towns and cities where the population sits between 50,000 to 100,000 are home to an average rental cost of £732, climbing to £807 in towns and cities with a population of between 100,000 and 150,000, and increasing further still to £830 per month for a population between 150,000 and 200,000.

However, at this point the average cost of renting drops notable with towns with a population of between 200,000 and 250,000 home to an average rent of just £688. The average rent then drops again to £670 for towns and cities with a population between 250,000 to 300,000.

But even better value for tenants are towns and cities with a population between 300,000 and 500,000, with the average rental cost at just £628 per month, with the highest average rent marginally over £1,000 and the lowest just below £500. This means that cities such as Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry and Nottingham offer some of the best value for tenants without sacrificing the city life that many leave home in search for.

Tom Gatzen, Co-founder of ideal flatmate, commented: “For many, moving away from home to a major city can be their first experience of the rental sector and all too often it can be a negative one due to the high costs of living.

While population size can be a driving factor behind demand for rental properties the data shows that more people doesn’t necessarily mean higher rents.

Although a supply-demand imbalance can push rents up, it would seem that there is a sweet spot where rental costs remain pretty tenant friendly without the need to ditch the big city lifestyle.”

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