Relocating to Cambridge: the lettings market

Cambridge is a city with a global reputation, thanks to its world-leading university that has seen the likes of William Wordsworth, Oliver Cromwell, Christopher Marlowe

and countless monarchs and royals pass through its doors. Cambridge’s academic status has spawned a thriving post graduate and academic business landscape that positions the city as a major employer outside of London. 

What makes Cambridge even more appealing as a place to live is its general quality of life. Cambridge’s reputation was cemented when a study by the Centre for Cities think tank in 2015 crowned Cambridge as the best place in Britain to live and work, beating more than 60 other locations, including London itself. This was reinforced by news that the Cambridge suburb Newnham was voted the best place to live in the entire UK by the Sunday Times, with its village atmosphere, fenland backdrop, traditional shops, short walk/peddle to the city centre and famous residents named as redeeming qualities (Prof Stephen Hawking and several Nobel prize winners call Newnham home). The accolade could have gone to a number of Cambridge’s suburbs and indeed Petersfield also made the newspaper’s Best Places to Live in the UK list, claiming 11th spot. 

The beautiful city centre, complementary suburbs and tranquil villages on Cambridge’s fringes are where many academics and professionals retire to after a hard day’s work. The university itself employs thousands of lecturers, academics and supporting staff (there’s another university in Cambridge too – Anglia Ruskin), while Cambridge University Hospitals - the NHS foundation trust behind the city’s Addenbrooke's and Rosie hospitals – is another employment powerhouse, hiring more than 8,000 staff alone. 

It is, however, Silicon Fen (also known as the Cambridge Cluster) that interests big business and therefore relocation companies. Many of the high-tech software, electronics and biotechnology companies concentrated to the north of the city have connections to the university and together they form one most of the most important technology centres outside of America. University of Cambridge figures suggest around 57,000 people are employed by more than 1,500 technology-based firms in the area, which have combined annual revenue of over £13 billion.

Demand for lettings accommodation is three-fold in Cambridge, which places greater emphasis on a smart property search. While there is a strong relocation market, Cambridge is also the top city in the UK where it is cheaper to rent than to buy. This fact was uncovered by property portal Zoopla when it analysed asking prices and rents for two-bedroom homes in the UK’s biggest cities. In Cambridge, the average monthly rent was found to be about £769 less than a mortgage payment. 

Although renting in Cambridge may be more cost-effective than buying, demand for lets is bolstered by students – many of whom are studying at Cambridge from overseas and are backed by wealthy parents. Subsequently there can be fierce competition between professionals and students for the smartest apartments. 

Factor in a swell of London-bound commuters who are discovering their rental budget affords them much more property in Cambridge – with a commute of less than an hour to King’s Cross – and the demand is clear. Quoted in a Daily Telegraph article on rental property, Andrew Tucker, a Partner at letting agent Bidwells in Cambridge, commented: “Investors have been quick to identify the growth potential in a market where the demand for rental properties is constantly rising.”

According to home.co.uk, the average rent in Cambridge is £1,276 pcm, which will generally secure a two-bedroom property. There’s a big serviced apartment market in the city, with all-inclusive apartments at the top end of the sector being offered for as much as £6,000 pcm. The Accordia and Parkside developments remain popular with professionals, especially since they offer a high specification and are within walking distance of Cambridge train station. Properties overlooking the River Cam provide a tranquil place for tenants, with some stunning apartments to let, with wrap-around balconies and on-site facilities; Darwin House on Kingsley Walk is a fine example.

Our relocation agents are currently active in Cambridge, sourcing properties to rent and helping settle home movers. If you have clients relocating to Cambridge and would like orientation and rental advice, contact ARPM Relocation today.

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