Watford is the best commuter town for investment, according to an exclusive research report carried out by developer London Square.
The town has achieved top ranking as one of the UK’s top commuter destination, reflecting the 'excellent lifestyle on offer, employment opportunities, quality education, extensive green spaces and first-class transport links' it offers.
The analysis by Dataloft comes as the developer launches London Square Watford, a 'stylish collection' of one and two-bedroom apartments in a convenient and attractive spot two miles from the centre of town, to investors.
Designed to blend in with the more traditional lower rise homes in the area, the development includes 'striking contemporary design, attractive brick facades and pitched roofs'.
Most of the apartments have private outside space, with communal landscaping for residents to enjoy as well as private, gated parking for selected apartments and cycle storage.
The development is close to strong transport links, with fast trains to Central London taking 23 minutes and good major road links including the M1 and the M25 nearby. London Heathrow, meanwhile, is just over a 30-minute drive.
According to the Dataloft report, some 45% of people moving to Watford come from London. The region has a predicted price growth of 17% from 2021 to 2025, in comparison to 12.6% across London. Meanwhiile, annual price growth of 6.6% was achieved from March 2020 to March 2021, surpassing outer London (6.1%) and Hertfordshire (6.4%).
Watford is home to a young and dynamic rental market, with two-thirds of tenants either single occupants or couples aged between 20-39. Research by the Imagine Group, the appointed selling agents for London Square Watford, shows that a one-bedroom apartment would have a rental income of around £1,200 pcm and a two bedroom apartment would command a rent of around £1,550 pcm, with yields of up to 4.5%.
Jo McDonagh, sales and marketing director at London Square, commented: “London Square Watford is an excellent place for investors, with its high specification apartments, many with balconies or terraces and parking on selected plots. Demand for rental property in the town continues to be strong and, in particular, for new build which holds a premium compared to second-hand property. With average rental incomes rising as tenants compete for high quality homes, now is a great place to invest. The town is flourishing and has so much to offer in terms of lifestyle, education, jobs and connectivity.”
The Dataloft analysis revealed that Watford was chosen as the happiest place to live in the East of England, and ranked the top commuter location outside of London, with the report highlighting its excellent transport links, high-quality digital connectivity, a buzzing retail and café vibe, sports facilities and competitive property prices. The report states: “Watford is well-placed to offer the best of both worlds as lifestyle and working cultures adapt in the wake of the pandemic.”
The expansion of employment, business and transport in the town is being bankrolled by regeneration funding of £1.5 billion, with Watford Junction (the nearest station to Harry Potter World) being developed as a strategic transport hub.
An £180m expansion of the town's central shopping centre is set to elevate the town into the top 20 of UK retail destinations. What's more, close to 15,000 homes are planned by 2036, with over 150,000 employment opportunities within a 30-minute commute. Major employers in the area include KPMG, Warner Bros, Camelot, Hilton, Ralph Lauren and Europcar.
Watford performs well on the educational rankings, too, with 30% of schools ranked Outstanding by OFSTED. Grammar schools and a wide choice of independent schools are available.
For students, meanwhile, the universities of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire are both within a 30-minute drive and cater for over 38,000 undergraduates. Additonally, three of the UK’s top five universities – Imperial, UCL and the London School of Economics – are accessible by fast trains to the capital.
Watford is a green town, too, with more than one-fifth of the land area in the town is classified as ‘public green space’, with the majority of households within 400m of a public park or garden.
The impressive and historic 190-acre Cassiobury Park, twice the size of London’s Hyde Park. is one of 12 award-winning outdoor locations across the borough. There are also nine ‘green’ corridors, providing an abundance of cycling opportunities, with over 7,000km of cycle routes available.