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The Best and Worst Cities for Renters REVEALED

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The current climate is an unclear one for renters.

There’s a lot of uncertainty due to the impact of COVID-19. Just before we went into lockdown, private-sector renting prices hit a record high.

So, where are we now?

We reveal the best and worst cities for renters.

Top 10 Best Cities for Renters

  1. Plymouth
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Cardiff
  4. Glasgow
  5. Southampton
  6. Leeds 
  7. Swansea
  8. London
  9. Derby
  10. Newcastle Upon Tyne 
City% of Income Spent on RentEviction RatePrivate Rented Properties RateAnnual Rental Price RiseUnemployment RateCrime RateRent- Friendly %
1Plymouth32.0%8.880.41.9%2.8%59.4100%
2Edinburgh38.9%5.7133.30.6%3.8%60.498.9%
3Cardiff36.2%7.270.01.2%3.0%84.785.3%
4Glasgow30.6%N/A*98.00.6%3.8%71.782.1%
5Southampton36.6%11.190.51.4%3.1%80.582.1%
6Leeds32.9%5.1126.41.9%4.3%127.381.1%
7Swansea38.8%2.263.61.2%3.0%84.781.1%
8London64.2%0.5148.91.2%4.3%102.480.0%
9Derby22.0%17.162.62.1%3.9%67.178.9%
10Newcastle Upon Tyne27.8%12.1106.20.5%6.2%104.278.9%

*Eviction rate not available for Glasgow.

This table calculates a rent-friendly score for a number of top cities across the country. The index takes a number of different factors into consideration to give you a full picture. Research carried out by Insulation Express

This is looked at purely through the eyes of a tenant, in terms of finance and stability. It doesn’t reflect a city overall.

Most Renter-Friendly

When many renters think of the ‘best place to live’, often this only considers price. However, there are many other factors that will significantly impact your enjoyment and experience living there.

For example, while London comes out poorly in terms of financial strain (tenants spend roughly 64% of their salary on rent) it still performs well overall in the rent-friendly index.

Plymouth comes highest ranked with 100% in the index. This is partly thanks to a low unemployment rate at the time of the survey of 2.8%, combined with a low crime rate (roughly 59 crimes per 1,000 people). 

It’s also easier to save for a deposit here, as renters only spend 32% of their salaries on rent on average.

Cheapest 

If budget is your number-one concern, head to Derby. Here, tenants spend just over ⅕ (22%) of their income on rent.

This is closely followed by renters in Sunderland who spend 23%. 

These two cities perform the best when it comes to the affordability score. Unsurprisingly, London failed miserably when it came to the cheapest places to rent.

Rent Rises

Of course, just because your rent is cheap now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way, right?

Wrong! At least this is the case in Sunderland. Here, tenants can take advantage of the lowest annual rent raises around: 0.5%.

Newcastle Upon Tyne comes in joint top-spot here, also boasting just a 0.5% increase. 

Worst-Ranked Cities 

  1. Luton
  2. Leicester
  3. Reading
  4. Manchester
  5. Newport
  6. Nottingham
  7. Belfast
  8. Wolverhampton
  9. Northampton
City% of Income Spent on RentEviction RatePrivate Rented Properties RateAnnual Rental Price RiseUnemployment RateCrime RateRent- Friendly %
1Luton41.1%22.365.01.5%3.3%85.347.4%
2Leicester33.1%13.551.02.1%3.9%85.551.6%
3Reading49.0%12.651.31.4%3.3%68.756.8%
4Manchester34.2%20.3123.21.2%4.2%164.157.9%
5Newport23.3%22.113.31.2%3.0%98.658.9%
6Nottingham30.4%11.736.11.9%3.9%94.258.9%
7Belfast31.2%N/A*86.02.2%2.3%144.358.9%
8Wolverhampton26.1%16.751.51.3%4.5%89.962.1%
9Northampton35.4%21.174.32.1%3.7%81.962.1%

*Eviction rate not available for Belfast.

This index was calculated in a similar way to the one above, however, it’s for the lowest-ranked cities.

Least Renter-Friendly 

Luton scored just 47.4% in the index, making it the worst-ranked city for renters. The reasons include costly prices (41% of renters’ incomes) and high eviction rates. This is coupled with the fact that annual rent prices are rising quickly – 1.5% in the last year alone.

Leicester also didn’t come out too favourably in the index. High crime and unemployment rates (among other things) negatively impacted its score. 

Plus, tenants in Reading can find themselves in trouble when it comes to affordability, thanks to having to spend nearly 50% of their income on rent.

Crime Rates 

Manchester has the highest crime rate, with a staggering 164.1 offenses per 1,000 people (16%). For many tenants, this is enough to make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable. 

Belfast didn’t perform too well either, with an average of 144.3 offences per 1,000 people.

While this isn’t the be all and end all, it’s something to consider and could impact your experience of living somewhere. 

Eviction rates

Eviction laws can be a scary thought for any tenant.

Luton, Manchester and Wolverhampton all score poorly here, with high eviction rates. However, if you live in one of these cities – these rates won’t necessarily affect you.

Plus, there are many legal requirements your landlord must follow before you can receive notice to vacate

While these rates are important to keep an eye on, they shouldn’t be a cause for concern or panic.

How was this all calculated?

For each metric, each city would be scored equitably between 1 and 5 – with the higher the number indicating that this metric made the city more ‘rent-friendly’.  

Then, all of the scores generated from each metric were added together to create the total ‘renter-friendly’ percentage, which then resulted in the cities being listed from best to worst.

When doing this, each metric was weighted evenly. The highest-ranking city (Plymouth) was then given a score of 100%, then each city was ranked as a percentage of that.

Want to find out more about an area?

Always do your research before moving – even when you’re renting.

Before moving somewhere, it’s recommended to get a property report to give you a good idea of whether you’ll enjoy living there. It will include everything from crime rates to transport links.

Get a Property Report

Last Updated: August 6th, 2021

Phil Spencer

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