Chinese students are driving demand for rental accommodation in London over the summer as they return to university or take up new places now that Covid restrictions have eased. The number of Chinese students arriving in the UK is increasing and now appears to be similar to pre-pandemic levels.
In some locations such as Wapping, Southwark, Colindale and East London, around 70% of the students enquiring about our rental properties are from China. We expect demand from students to remain high until the end of October as supply remains limited.
Demand from Hong Kong professionals relocating to the UK also remains high – both for renting and buying a property – and we’re seeing enquiry levels continue to increase each month, in July alone, enquiries for rental property from Hong Kongers was up 7.3%.
When it comes to renting, most Chinese and Hong Kong students planning to move to the UK are aware that the rental market in London is very competitive, with stocks of good rental properties limited. Lettings agents across London are short of stock so many students arrive in London and rent an Airbnb or a hotel room while they find accommodation – this can take several weeks.
To minimise this, many students are carrying out online viewings with us before they leave for the UK, in order to find accommodation. As we fully staffed offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai it has been relatively easy to carry out virtual viewings for several weeks now, to give applicants plenty of time to find a home. When they find the right property, they’re prepared to pay their holding deposit and sign a tenancy agreement immediately, even if that means the property is vacant for several weeks before they can move in.
Virtual tours are invaluable for international students in this frenetic market and can be surprisingly detailed. We are very thorough and show students all the key areas they need to know about, from the kitchen gadgets to communal sports facilities. And because many choose to rent a property in a residential development, they will also be able to view the developer’s website, as well as our own location guides which are filmed by our local staff here in London, to give them a feel for the development, the surrounding area and amenities.
Areas like Nine Elms, 250 City Road in Shoreditch, London Dock Wapping (Merino Wharf is the latest building completing now), White City Living, Royal Arsenal Woolwich, Beaufort Park in Colindale, Fulham Reach and Sovereign Court in Hammersmith are all hugely popular with Chinese students. The priorities tend to include good transport links – this is key and they prefer to be within half an hour of their university. Also important are a gym and other sports facilities plus fast Wifi.
Most Hong Kong BNO visa holders rent when they first arrive in London – typically for 6 – 12 months, before looking to buy. Currently, our sales teams are carrying out property searches for a number of Hong Kong clients and typically budgets are good – £500k to £800k, and most are cash buyers, having already sold their property in Hong Kong in order to settle in the UK.
Hong Kong expats work in a variety of industries, including finance, banking, accounting and engineering and typically are aged between 30 and 45. So they’re a mix of singles, couples and many are small families. They like to be near good schools and North-West London tends to be their preferred location so its no surprise that the London Borough of Barnet has the highest number of Chinese/Hong Kong nationals in the UK.
In terms of their chosen locations, Colindale remains a hotspot for buyers while Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich is becoming increasing popular too. Both areas offer good value for money as well as excellent transport links. Colindale is a 15-20 minute Tube journey into central London and the City’s finance district on the nearby Northern Line Tube while Royal Arsenal Riverside, another popular Berkeley scheme has its own Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) station which has slashed the journey time into central London. Canary Wharf can also be reached in seven minutes and Bond Street in 21 minutes so this opens up more places for prospective tenants to consider.
Other popular developments attracting a lot of interest from our Hong Kong clients are Eastman Village in Harrow and Hayes Village, which is not far from Heathrow airport. Outside of London, Reading and Milton Keynes are attracting new interest too as there is more affordable family space to offer here.
If you’re planning a move to London, the city’s property market can feel daunting. London is a series of villages an enclaves, each with its own characteristics, feel and types of property – and price ranges do vary a great deal. Our China Desk in London can help you find the right property in the right location – for your budget, whether you wish to rent or buy. So please get in touch with me, Penny Cheung, as me and my team will explain just how we can help you with your property search.
If you are a landlord looking for a Chinese or Hong Kong tenant we can also help. We always have waiting lists of people looking to move in all parts of London.
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