How the international student body is helping make Sheffield a property investment hotspot

Posted by Stuart Williamson on Sep 12, 2017 9:00:19 AM

Sheffield’s Asian evolution

Changing demographics within cities brings renewal and change, and leaves a footprint on the urban landscape – whether it be in the food scene, the architecture or the wider cultural vibe.

The diverse and vibrant student body in Sheffield comprise a significant part of the local population and some very interesting developments are in the works which signal opportunities for investors who are on the lookout.

Sheffield as a vibrant hotspot for property

As the UK’s fourth largest city, and as a vibrant university town and cultural hub in the North, Sheffield is on the map – culturally and economically. The Secretary of State has described Sheffield as being “at the heart” of Britain’s economic growth: with a population of 1.8 million and an economic output of 24.7 billion.

The student population of Sheffield – in the city’s two universities – comprise 60,000 students, of whom up to 9,000 are international students from the EU, the Middle East and Asia.

International students are big business for British universities: apart from the academic excellence  and diversity they bring to the campus, the fee structure for non-EU students is higher than British students, making them highly sought after by the business managers of universities. What’s more, Knight Frank has forecasted that the number of international students in higher education nationally will increase by 15-20% over the next five years.

China Town

One fascinating example of how this kind of shifting demographic – albeit a temporary one – can be seen in the construction of China Town in Sheffield, at 8 minutes walking distance from the city centre.

In response to the general scarcity of student accommodation in Sheffield (11,369 bedrooms available to 46,890 students), this £65 million development is a creative solution to providing services – and property – to a relatively affluent group of individuals in need of such amenities, and in particular drive demand for luxury student rentals.

Jerry Cheung, of New Era UK Ltd, aims to make China Town the ‘Times Square’ of Sheffield and would attract Chinese enterprise into the area. China Town will comprise a plaza with 70,000 sq. feet of retail units, a 695-room private student residence and 29,000 sq. feet of commercial office space.

There will be an Asian supermarket, shops catering to Chinese tastes and interests – and a range of property developments to supply the considerable demand from existing international students.

As we always explain to our clients, this is the momentum and dynamic that spurs economic growth and savvy investors should be on the look out for the opportunities which arise here.

Royal Riverside


One such property investment opportunity of interest to international students is Royal Riverside, which is a 5-storey building with around 127 apartments located at Priestly Street.  With purchase prices starting from £63,500 and an assured net rental of 8% per annum, Royal Riverside is a stable and robust investment opportunity.

Royal Riverside has a guaranteed rental for 5 years with an optional buyback clause at 115% after this 5 year period is up. Car parking spaces are also available for an additional £7,500, bringing approximately £60 pcm revenue on top.

Investors should always look at the context: the fundamentals are strong in university cities, and urban renewal and evolution, in the way that China Town represents, is indicative of an underlying economic energy which is very likely to keep driving future growth.

What’s more, rental yield of 8% is a very pleasing return, and certainly in the region we like to see for our clients – whose aim should always be to maximise their future rental revenue.

Changing demographics

With immigration, student bodies and a growing population, UK property is as excellent an opportunity as ever, and continues to attract interest from expatriate and foreign investors.

As new and transient populations leave their impression on cities and towns, it remains an excellent time for investors to put together a portfolio of investments focused on future revenue and growth.


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