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The UK’s top ten areas to invest in office space

Ways of working have drastically shifted over the past two years, with challenges presented for both business leaders and employees alike.

As a result, organisations are now looking for cost-effective office space to attract top talent, improve productivity, increase job satisfaction and improve staff retention.

Following a 56% increase in searches for “office space UK”¹, we have identified the top ten areas in the UK for businesses to invest in office space, with Yorkshire city, Sheffield making the top spot.

The ranking reveals the UK’s top ten best areas to invest in office space are:

  1. Sheffield
  2. Liverpool
  3. Salford
  4. Bolton
  5. Leeds
  6. Trafford
  7. Bradford
  8. Milton Keynes
  9. Kirklees (Huddersfield)
  10. Glasgow

The new research indicates that Sheffield, the ‘Steel City’ of the north, is where a business should consider investing. With a population of over 530,300, Sheffield has one of the highest numbers of registered students in the UK (63,875) and an average cost of living under £630, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment coming in at £571.88. Home to the oldest football stadium globally, Sheffield has over 390 commercial properties available to rent and already has 16,345 resilient businesses registered in the city, making this the top place in the UK to invest in office space for 2022.

Taking the second spot is the World Capital City of Pop, Liverpool. Home to three universities (University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University) and filled with a vast choice of pubs, nightclubs, festivals, coffee shops, and restaurants, Liverpool has a population of just under 468,000 and 63,290 registered students. The city has a higher cost of living (£669.04) and rent (£594.44) for employees compared to Sheffield; however, it has more commercial space with 507 offices available to rent.

Two popular cities in Greater Manchester, Trafford and Salford, also made it into the top ten list, with both cities having the lowest average cost of residential rent (£248.92) and n average cost of living of (£685.37). Already boasting a fascinating history, rich culture and the beautiful countryside of the North-West right on the doorstep, the figures prove there are also cost-effective factors of having a business within the North of England.

The only location in the top ten list from the south of England, Milton Keynes, ranked in 8th position with an average rent of £268.57 for employees and a total of 12,765 resilient businesses already located in the city.

Macfarlanes office design and fit out1

Our managing director, Daniel Blackburn, commented on the study: “Businesses across all industries have been significantly affected by multiple lockdowns, Brexit, stock shortages and broken supply chains over the past two years leading to a re-evaluation of budgets, rent and ways of working.

“Interestingly, Sheffield and many other northern cities have made the top ten locations to invest in office space down to a lower average cost of living, rent and the number of commercial opportunities available. There are thousands of commercial properties available for businesses to consider, but this shouldn’t be the only thing on their mind.

“With hybrid working becoming the preferred way of working, the role of the office has changed. Office spaces are gradually adapting with creative and collaborative areas for teamwork and innovation, rather than a place to complete day-to-day tasks. As a result, coming into the office is now seen as more of an ‘experience’ and office location will therefore be a key concern as we work towards a better future.”

You can find out more about office design and fit-out by contacting our creative design team or by following us on social media for regular updates and advice.

Methodology and Sources

We developed a Cost-effective Location Index, ranking UK cities, towns & districts on different factors, including the total population², the average rent for an apartment³, the number of commercial properties available⁴, and the number of registered students⁵, the average cost of living⁶ and number of businesses registered⁷.

  1. Search volumes for ‘office space uk’ in April 2022, compared to April 2020. Data correct as of 8th April 2022.
  2. Population:
  3. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment (Correct as of 7th April 2022):
  4. The number of commercial properties available (Correct as of 7th April 2022):
  5. The number of registered students (Correct as of 7th April 2022):
  6. The average cost of living (Correct as of 7th April 2022):
  7. Number of businesses registered (Correct as of 7th April 2022):
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