A dynamic beacon of modern Wales, Cardiff is one of the UK’s fastest-growing cities, offering a growing business community, an active and innovative media sector, world-leading sporting facilities and a vibrant lifestyle that ranks amongst the best in Europe.
Extensive regeneration and development projects in the city have seen both public and private sector money invested in Cardiff, driving the city forward to reach its goals of being one of the world’s best.
Home to a range of exceptional universities, Cardiff has become a hotspot for students, with a student population of more than 45,000 making up almost 12% of the city’s entire population.
As the city undergoes rapid expansion and considerable investment, Cardiff is attracting more attention than ever before for students from across the UK and the world. Here are just 5 reasons to consider Cardiff and its student accommodation property market as the location for your next property investment:
Image: Cardiff University
1 – Cardiff: The Student City
With four major educational institutions located in the city, higher education is one of Cardiff’s main revenue generators, with an increasing number of students moving to the Welsh capital to complete their studies.
Located in the heart of the city, Cardiff University is a part of the prestigious Russell Group and stands among Britain’s leading teaching and research institutions - ranked 5th for quality of research and 2nd for impact of research in the UK.
The university has seen substantial investment in refurbishment and estate, with recent developments including £14 million Learning and Teaching Centre and a £18 million new Medical Education Centre.
Cardiff Metropolitan University is home to nearly 14,000 students enrolled and has been named the number one institution in the UK for overall international support 6 times since 2007. Divided into five specialist academic schools, offering focused research and study opportunities, the university has over 1,200 international students from more than 140 countries around the world.
Producing successful alumni such as Sir Anthony Hopkins, The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is a renowned institute of the liberal arts. In 2011, it opened a brand new £22.5 million facility offering state-of-the-art rehearsal spaces and gallery for its students.
The University of South Wales has one of its 4 campuses located within the city, with more than 30,000 students enrolled on its courses across Wales. Focused on offering world class education opportunities in the city, the university has invested more than £170m on its Cardiff campus over the course of the past 7 years.
In November 2017, the university officially opened its brand new £3.7m Sport Park, which includes a full-sized FIFA-approved 3G pitch; one of only three built at a UK university.
2 – First Class Investment Potential
The reputation of Cardiff as one of the UK’s leading student cities is not only attracting a large student population, but also property investors.
Of the three major universities, only the University of Cardiff guarantees accommodation to all first-year undergraduates and first-year overseas postgraduates, meaning that a significant portion of its student population will rely on private sector accommodation.
Although the planning pipeline for new beds remains healthy at around 6,184, the student-to-bed ratio in Cardiff was 2.5:1, according to a report in 2017 by Cushman & Wakefield. This was higher than the national average, demonstrating that demand for student property developments in Cardiff remains high.
As demand grows for higher quality and a greater quantity of accommodation opportunities across the city, student rental rates have surged. Cardiff had the strongest annual growth in the UK, increasing by 5.80% in the 2017/18 academic year, compared to the national average of 2.55%.
However, this is unlikely to deter students from applying to Cardiff, as the 2017 Student Living Index announced that it is the most affordable university city.
Similarly, it is not dampening investor appetite for student property, despite Brexit uncertainty. Final investment in 2017, based on known transactions, is expected to be around £5bn, which is close to the record £5.7bn invested into the market in 2015.
With a shortage in the market, property investors are looking to capitalise on Cardiff’s expanding student population, with unique student accommodation investments in excellent locations.
Image: Cardiff Central Square © Rightacres Property
3 – A European Powerhouse
In addition to becoming one the UK’s student powerhouses, Cardiff has undergone radical transformation over the last 10 years, in line with its ambition to become one of Europe’s most successful cities and a top business, cultural and leisure destination.
The regeneration programmes that have been put into action include world-class venues such as the Millennium Stadium and Millennium Centre, the ultra-modern St. David’s Shopping Centre and Cardiff Bay, now the centre of Welsh politics with the Welsh Parliament building.
The high-quality retail developments and modern urban design that are now part of Cardiff’s skyline are a reflection of the city’s rapid economic growth, with a five-phased masterplan scheduled for completion in 2020 set to reshape Cardiff’s city centre.
The scheme is one of the most ambitious regeneration projects ever seen in Wales. The plans include the construction of what would be the tallest building in Wales, a new transport hub in the city centre and the creation of nearly 1 million sq. ft. of new offices, retail and residential space.
Beginning in September 2013, the Central Square scheme has already completed its first phase of development – a 134,000 sq. ft. multi-storey office building with spectacular views of the city.
Phase 2 of the programme is now under way and will see the construction of a new £120 million headquarters for the BBC Cymru, with the keys for the building set to be handed over in Spring 2018. The Central Square development is set to boost the local economy of more than £1.1 billion over the next 10 years with the creation of more than 1,900 full time jobs in the city.
With more opportunities being created within the city, the population is expected to continue to grow, boosted in part by the students graduating from the city’s institutions and capitalising on Cardiff’s new found reputation as one of the UK’s leading cities.
4 – Leading the Way in Wales
The success of Cardiff’s ongoing regeneration and development programmes has resulted in the scope of the city’s plans being broadened to create a new economic powerhouse within Wales.
The formation of the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR), comprised of the city council and 9 other Welsh local authorities, seeks to create opportunities within the economy, infrastructure and transport within the region.
Within the Cardiff Capital Region, home to more than 1.5 million people, there are three different Enterprise Zones, where the Welsh Government is prioritising investment in business infrastructure.
Leaders of Cardiff Capital Region have requested a £1.2 billion City Deal to drive growth across the region, whilst three programmes supporting housing, skills and digital connectivity were formally agreed by the CCR Cabinet in February 2018 in order to unlock economic growth across the region.
The City Deal has a target to increase the gross value of the economy in the Cardiff Capital Region by 5%, creating up to 33,000 new jobs and bring an additional £4 billion of private sector investment.
The CCR is investing £37.9m into the development and manufacturing of compound semiconductors, which are essential components used in everyday devices like smartphones. 5,000 jobs are expected to be created from this, with the potential for hundreds more in the wider chain.
Another major project set to benefit from the City Deal is the Metro Central transport hub, which is being expanded in order to prepare for the millions of new passengers projected to use rail links in Wales over the next 25 years.
Plans for the £180m hub were recently revealed, £40m of which has been agreed in principle by the CCR Cabinet.
Image: Cardiff Bay
5 – Innovation and Creation
The physical transformation of Cardiff over the last decade has been mirrored by the increasing growth of new creative industries within the city, with Cardiff standing alongside London and Salford as the largest media centres in the UK.
Utilising its new opportunities, the city has styled itself as a hub for creative industries from innovative start-ups to national institutions.
Located throughout the city, BBC Wales is based in Cardiff, where famous television series and international brands, such as Doctor Who and Casualty are produced in state-of-the-art media facilities.
Elsewhere in the city, the Creative Quarter, a development area originally known as the Morgan Arcade Chambers, has recently been transformed into beautifully furnished office spaces - a hub to a range of creative firms. The £3.5m development is already home to a range of creative businesses and with an influx of more creative industries expected in the sector, attracted to Cardiff’s vibrant community and culture of innovation.
As the city establishes its credentials as one of the UK’s leading creative cities, its unique opportunities are offering students more reasons than ever before to consider Cardiff as the location for them to study in.
The growth of the student accommodation market in the UK over the last decade has generated exceptional interest from property investors. With Cardiff’s student population continuing to grow with the city, it is set to become one of the UK’s most desirable locations for property investors looking to capitalise on the city’s popularity.
Looking to invest in a purpose built student accommodation investment, now is an excellent time to capitalise on one of the UK’s most vibrant and sought after cities.
Visit our Cardiff page to view our current projects in the city.