1. Just 25 mins to central London
Reading benefits from excellent transport connectivity, and this has served to make the town a hit with both young professionals and seasoned commuters alike. By train, you can reach London from Reading in a mere 25 minutes, earning Reading a well-deserved place at the heart of the affluent ‘commuter belt’. Global transport hub Heathrow Airport is also easily accessible, and the M4 motorway runs nearby as well.
Better still, these connectivity advantages are set to be turbo-charged by the arrival of the new Elizabeth Line later this year. The latest addition to London’s world-class Tube network, the Elizabeth Line (also known as Crossrail) will enormously enhance East-West linkages into and across the capital, and further boost Reading’s appeal as both a place to live within easy reach of London, as well as confirming Reading as a great place to work in its own right.
2. Tech and innovation hub
The diversity and strength of the local economy is another reason real estate investors are currently focusing on Reading. As can be seen below, average weekly income and Gross Valued Added (GVA) data for Reading are considerably higher than the national values. This infographic was produced by the Centre for Cities think-tank, with the clear circles representing national averages and the coloured circles showing values for Reading.
Importantly, statistics measuring digital connectivity are also noticeably higher than national averages, and this is part of why Reading has been so successful in its drive to become a major hub for tech and innovation.
Reading has received a resounding vote of confidence from the global tech community and today can boast of names like Microsoft, Cisco, and Huawei who all have headquarters in Reading. As well as established giants, Reading also has a thriving start-up scene. The development of the new business district Forbury Place has provided flexible and affordable office space where a new generation of entrepreneurs sit alongside established firms like HSBC and PwC.
In total, just over 2 million square feet of office, commercial, and residential space are currently under construction, and this combination of great transport with a great dynamic economy is at the heart of Readings winning formula.
3. Fastest growing UK city before and after Covid
Track-record isn’t everything, but it must count for something. EY recently named Reading and the broader Thames Valley region as the fastest growing region post-Covid. Of particular significance was the report’s findings that productivity in the city has already increased by 4% relative to its 2019 level. This was the largest increase enjoyed by any area of the country, including London, and suggests the cities specialisation in digital and tech sectors is paying dividends. This impressive growth trend was in place well before the pandemic, with EY also predicting Reading would be the fastest growing city way back in 2016, too.
Growth means the local economy will continue to flourish, and importantly that the area will continue to be home to the well-paid, secure jobs that facilitate home ownership. Real estate investors in Reading therefore don’t face the same kind of risk they would face by making similar investments into less economically dynamic regions.
4. Popular with first-time buyers
Property in Reading certainly can’t be described as cheap, but this has not stopped the area from being a perennial hit with first-time buyers. In fact, in recent years a large scale survey by the Times revealed that Reading is in fact amongst the top locations favoured by first-time buyers. This is because the priciness of property here is more than offset by the economic and cultural opportunities provided by the area. Essentially, the strong local economy and the vibrant cultural scene serve to draw in young professionals who are able and willing to pay a premium for their first properties.
5. Culture and environment
Reading is uniquely well located for access to both urban and rural environments. The city sits between the North Wessex Downs and the picturesque Chiltern Hills, both of which are designated as Areas of Natural Beauty by the government. In combination with the excellent inter-city transport links mentioned above, you really can have the best of both worlds in Reading!
In terms of culture, Reading is also a strong performer. The city hosts the world's longest-running music festival every year, and The Reading Festival still attracts the biggest bands and artists from around the world to the town every August as it has done since 1955. Reading's pedestrian city centre is friendly and easy to navigate, with the main high streets full of shopping, dining, and cultural experiences all being within a short walk of the train station.
The University of Reading is a globally renowned institution. Every year it attracts 19,000 new students from more than 150 countries. The steady stream of graduates means the local economy has a plentiful supply of skilled labour, and the city's young population contribute a lot to the general energy and dynamism of the area. This means the rental market in Reading is very robust, and recent events have done nothing to dent the city's upward surge.
7. Capital appreciation potential
The numerous strengths outlined above all mean property prices in Reading have great potential to increase over the medium term. A recent report highlighted that in the first quester of 2021, the South East rental market broke records with its double-digit growth of 10.6%, and has since been going from strength to strength.
The strong desire to stay within a commutable distance to London has been the core basis of Readings popularity, and an average property price of £425,974, Reading property currently far exceeds the UK average value of just £322,758.
Importantly, this growth is predicted to continue, with analyst forecasts expecting a rise of up to 19.1% across the region by 2025, along with an anticipated 8% rise in rents. Property in Reading therefore has the potential to deliver both capital appreciation and a strong yield.