Glasgow or Edinburgh? Glasgow is a lot like Edinburgh, only more affordable. Obviously don’t make that comment if you’re actually talking to a Glaswegian since there is a heady rivalry between the two cities, but from an investment perspective, there’s a lot of truth in it. There are also a number of reasons why Glasgow has the makings of a very lucrative property investment destination.
In addition to the headline universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, there are a number of more specialist institutions in both cities. Investors should note that, Scottish and EU students who attend Scottish universities do not pay tuition fees, whereas students from other parts of the UK do. This obviously encourages EU students to look north of the border.
For non-EU students, there’s the draw that Scotland has four of the UK’s six most historic universities (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews). Of these, Glasgow and St Andrews arguably score top for overall value, but they are completely different markets. Glasgow is for people who want to live in a vibrant city and still get a good education. St Andrews is for people who prefer a quiet life.
If someone had written that comment of Glasgow even ten years ago, many people in Scotland would have spluttered in disbelief. Glasgow’s traditional industries were in tatters and while the city’s heart still beat strongly, there was no disputing that its body was in big trouble. Then, in 2014, Glasgow’s successful hosting of the Commonwealth games put it back on the tourist map and Glasgow council and the UK government signed the “City Deal”.
This hasn’t been as publicized as the “Northern Powerhouse” but essentially, since then Glasgow and Edinburgh have developed the same sort of relationship as Manchester and London. Glasgow has become very much the place of “new industries”, it’s particularly known for music, fashion and digital content, while Edinburgh is still the home of more traditional institutions like the Scottish Parliament and financial services, although it has to be said, Edinburgh is way ahead of Glasgow when it comes to literature, with many of Scotland’s most famous writers based in or near it. Just like Manchester, Glasgow has stopped being a place people left to find work elsewhere and is now a desirable destination for people to find work.
Strong property markets
The dynamics of the property markets in Edinburgh and Glasgow are also similar to the dynamics of the property markets in London and Manchester. Edinburgh has proved an attractive destination for property investors as it does offer outstanding affordability when compared to London.
Its western neighbour Glasgow, however, is still somewhat underappreciated by investors, who may not have caught up with just how much the city has changed for the better in recent years or how much potential it still has to offer. In particular, it has been confirmed that Glasgow will be on the HS2 route, meaning that overland journey times to London could be reduced to around 3 hours 40 minutes, this compares very favourably with the existing journey times by both rail and air and could make Glasgow and even more tempting destination for businesses, students and, indeed, tourists alike.
Mark Burns is the managing director of property investment firm Hopwood House.