It’s easy to see why people invest in property in the East of England. With several thriving towns and cities (including a handful of the UK’s well-known universities), there’s no shortage of demand – and the numbers are there to prove it.
House prices are strengthening, rising by 5.2% between December 2012 and December 2013 , and rents are increasing almost in line  – meaning that landlords are currently enjoying capital growth alongside decent yields.
The East is also a burgeoning hub of culture and commerce, with the 2011 census showing an 8% population increase over the preceding decade. (As of this date, it is the fourth most populous region in the United Kingdom.)
There is another side to the region, however. The East of England is home to some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside, as well as innumerable rural settlements. Indeed, many Eastern counties are counted among the most desirable rural locations in the country.
So, is this a market to be tapped? In this article, we will examine whether or not it’s worth investing in rural buy to let property.
Rural investment – the social benefits…
Straight off the bat (and into a bush on the village common), there are a few obvious benefits to owning rural property, which include:
- Familiarity: People tend to either invest locally to themselves, or hire a managing agent who is local, and this means that whoever looks after your property is likely to be very familiar with the area. It’s also easier to build contacts with local businesses and authorities in a less populated area, and to keep track of major local development such as construction initiatives and the emergence of a new big business in the area.
- Less competition: The bulk of buy to let investment in the UK occurs in urban areas. In rural areas, you will have fewer serious property investors competing for purchases, and fewer landlords competing for tenants.
- Crime rates: It will likely come as no surprise that crime figures tend to be substantially higher in urban areas than in rural areas, and that the likelihood of being a victim of household crime (such as burglary or vandalism) is also higher in urban areas.
…and the social downsides
There are less glamorous facets of country life, however.
A recent report by the Rural Services Network claims that rural communities pay 15% more in council tax than urban communities , despite receiving less government funding . Additionally, isolated areas have fewer amenities and public services such as schools, healthcare facilities, entertainment venues and mobile and broadband access.
These are all factors which decrease the desirability of rural property, particularly to traditional rental demographics. This means that you may suffer longer marketing periods – and more lost revenue – when attempting to fill a property.
Don’t miss the second instalment of this blog, which will focus on the financial benefits and drawbacks of rural property investment.
 Source: http://www.lslps.co.uk/documents/house_price_index_dec13.pdf
 Source: https://homelet.co.uk/rentalindex (as at 10 February 2014)
 Source: http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/services/end-rural-inequality-now-urges-council
 Source: http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/images/stories/major-documents/state-of-rural-services-2013.pdf