Suburbs become rental hotspots as working from home becomes new normal

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2 min read
Cambridge University (King's College Chapel) Top View
Cambridge has seen the biggest annual rise in rental searches outside London. Photo: Getty

The Home Counties and Cambridge have become new rental hubs, as people increasingly look to migrate from London.

The rise of working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic has spurred renters to look beyond the traditional commuter areas, according to new data from Rightmove (RTMVY).

Cambridge saw the biggest annual rise, with searches surging 76%, while Chessington in Kingston upon Thames is London’s new prime renting real estate. Searches for rental properties in Chessington nearly doubled, rising by 99%.

Tenants in Chessington are paying average monthly rents of £1,258 ($1,625), which is still a 4.3% year-on-year increase, but is £742 cheaper than average rents across London as a whole.

Chessington South railway station, a Zone 6 location, is at the end of the Chessington Branch Line.

Vinesh Mistry, sales and lettings manager at Parry & Drewett in Chessington, said: We’ve seen lots of interest from bigger neighbouring towns like Surbiton and Sutton and there’s great value for money here.

“We’re a smaller community, there are only about 3,500 chimney pots in Chessington, so when something comes up there is a good fight for it.

“We recently advertised a lovely two-bed Victorian cottage and had 125 viewing requests.”

The study, which looked at 60 million rental searches in August compared with the same time the previous year, also showed rental searches were up 34%.

Agents are reporting in some cases over 100 prospective tenants enquiring about a single property.

Only three cities, Cambridge, Oxford and Gloucester, feature in the top ten list for biggest search increases outside London

Tenants are paying asking rents of £1,319 on average each month in the university city, which is almost £90 more expensive than the national average, but still £681 cheaper than in London.

The cost of renting in Cambridge has risen by just 1% compared with this time last year.

Rightmove’s property expert Miles Shipside said: “Since the market reopened in May we’ve seen a growing trend of buyers looking to move out of urban areas and it appears renters are now following suit.

“No-one knows what the future holds, but at the moment, it’s clear to see that places with a slower pace of life are top of renters’ home-hunting wish-lists.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: UK house prices at record high after biggest monthly leap in 16 years