Is Bedford the new diamond in the commuter belt?
Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that more people are moving out of London than ever before. It’s likely that more than 200,000 will make the move this year; a great opportunity for property investors, if you can pinpoint where these migrating Londoners are likely to move to. Say hello to Bedford, where it is time to invest in the heart of the new economic powerhouse.
Why are people leaving London?
The main reasons for leaving London are affordability and lifestyle. But most migrating Londoners don’t want a completely new life. They want to have their cake and eat it: to benefit from London wages while living more cost-effectively and at a gentler pace. Unsurprisingly, most migrating Londoners choose to relocate to commuter towns.
Bedford is gaining in popularity as a destination for Londoners. The population here is forecast to grow by 8% between 2016 and 2023, and by 39% by 2039, an increase of more than 40,000 residents from the current 168,000. That’s like importing the population of an entire town.
You can’t blame Londoners for looking towards Bedford. The town has an abundance of lifestyle benefits for residents. Here we examine a few.
Bedford – a town for all
Bedford is a town with low crime rates, and in a prime location, just 35 minutes to central London and 20 minutes from Luton Airport. Property prices are incredibly affordable, and homes range from town centre apartments to edge-of-town developments via houses packed with bags of Victorian character. There are plenty of things to do in Bedford, many excellent schools, and the local economy is growing and vibrant.
Bedford – shops for all
Bedford’s town centre is home to a huge range of shops, from high street names through to niche boutique retailers. There are more than 300 shops in the pedestrianised centre, accompanied by an open-air market. Not surprising that Bedford attracts millions of retail visitors each year.
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And the town is within striking distance of London and Cambridge for those shopaholics who want something a little different.
Bedford – an eventful town for leisure seekers
Bedford is a real lifestyle town and has an enormous variety of leisure opportunities:
- Bedford Corn Exchange hosts an explosion of live events throughout the year, offering entertainment for lovers of comedy, music, and dance.
- The biennial River Festival is the UK’s largest free carnival after Notting Hill, inviting 350,000 visitors.
- And around the town, you’ll find its nightlife peppered with live music, including some excellent jazz and blues.
- Bedford is home to some fantastic athletic facilities, such as the Bedford International Athletic Stadium, and water sports are well catered for. The Oasis Beach Pool provides a day of family fun.
- Nightlife here is eclectic, with bars, restaurants and bistros providing international cuisine, quiz nights, and open mic evenings.
- Bedford is home to an array of green spaces. The town lies on the River Great Ouse, and its surrounding countryside is renowned for its combination of gardens, lakes, and trails for walking, jogging, and cycling.
For growing families, education is always a concern. Bedford excels in this, too. Ofsted’s 2015 annual report highlighted the town’s exceptional performance, ranking Bedford 4th out of 163 of the country’s local authorities. A level attainment increased while declining nationally.
In Bedford, children benefit from education in some of the country’s best publicly funded and independent primary and secondary schools, and the outstanding Bedford College. And for degree students, accessible universities include Cranfield University and the University of Bedfordshire, several in London, and, of course, both Oxford and Cambridge.
For those seeking a central location, Bedford is ideal. It is at the heart of a transport network of road, rail, and air.
- The nearby A1 and M1 provide road travel links to the rest of the country.
- Travel around the borough is easy via public transport, with regular bus services around the district.
- By train, London is only 35 minutes away. You can be in Paris in around four hours.
- Luton Airport is 20 minutes by road, with Gatwick and three other airports within easy reach, too.
Bedford – perfect for property investors
We’ve examined all that Bedford has to offer. It’s an exciting proposition. It’s affordable, well connected, with superb shopping, and home to exceptional education establishments. Only 35 minutes from London, we believe it will continue to be high on the list of destinations for migrating Londoners. With rapid population growth forecast during the next two decades, there is likely to be increasing demand to fuel buy-to-let profits.
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