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Best Cities For Office Commuters Revealed

Updated: Apr 15


Business People Commuting to work offices.

The morning commute is a big part of an office worker’s life, with the average travel time to the office taking almost an hour. In the UK, more than half of all train journeys are for commuting, with 1.4 billion passenger journeys from 2022 to 2023.

 

With many workers looking to reclaim as much of their personal time as possible, businesses with offices close to commuting hubs, such as train stations, are a much more attractive option for staff looking to shorten their commute. Additionally, the local economy surrounding office complexes benefit too, as workers tend to spend money in and around the offices they work in, meaning nearby businesses can benefit massively from commuters. According to the University of Sheffield, a ‘permanent change in remote working will shift £3 billion in annual retail and hospitality spending out of the largest city centres in England and Wales.’

 

Of course, the majority of people in the UK drive to work, with 68% of commuters getting to work by car, according to official government statistics. It’s important for businesses to be flexible with however their staff choose to commute, and obtaining office space near commuter hubs can help enable this - especially if those office spaces come with staff parking.

 

With this in mind, Asset Finance brokerage Approved Business Finance has compiled the Commuter Cities Index -  ranking cities based on the number of available office spaces to rent and buy within one mile of a major train station. The research also considers how many of those offices have on-site parking for staff, for those who prefer to commute by car, with a weighted score being given to each.

 

The best UK cities for businesses to acquire office space:

Rank

Cities

1

Sheffield

2

Cardiff

3

Aberdeen

4

Manchester

5

London (Waterloo)

6

Glasgow

7

Chelmsford

8

Bristol

9

Leeds

10

Milton Keynes

11

Leicester

12

Birmingham

13

Bolton

14

Nottingham

15

Newcastle upon Tyne

16

Southend-on-Sea

17

Southampton

18

Brighton

19

Peterborough

20

Doncaster

According to the research, Sheffield has the highest overall score for commuter cities. The Yorkshire city has 168 office spaces available to rent within one mile of Sheffield Train Station, with an average office space of 4,591 square feet.

 

When it comes to offices available to buy, Sheffield has 26 office spaces listed within a mile of the station, currently the highest in the UK. Available spaces to buy are also much larger than the average rented office space, with 8,847 square feet to fill.

 

Second in the rankings comes Cardiff, which scores highly for offices available to buy with parking spaces for staff. 73% of the available office spaces in the Welsh capital offer parking - currently the highest percentage in the UK.

 

Aberdeen takes third place in the overall rankings, thanks primarily to its rental spaces being much larger than those in English cities, on average. The average square footage of rental office space in Aberdeen is 9,530 square feet - enough for a reasonably sized small to medium enterprise (SME).


Best cities for business to buy office space for commuters:

Cities

No. offices to buy within 1 mile

No. offices with parking to buy

Avg. sq.ft. of each office space to buy

Index score / 30

 

Sheffield

26

12

8,847

25

Cardiff

15

11

5,409

18

Aberdeen

16

9

4,266

16

Chelmsford

11

11

4,087

16

Leicester

9

8

8,336

14

Bristol

12

7

6,730

14

Glasgow

12

7

6,049

14

London (Waterloo)

18

4

4,353

13

Bolton

2

2

19,231

12

Southend-on-Sea

9

9

1,692

12

Doncaster

4

4

11,452

11

Grimsby

2

2

15,194

10

Royal Leamington Spa

6

6

3,980

9

Peterborough

2

1

12,756

8

Milton Keynes

2

2

10,570

8

Ipswich

3

2

9,533

8

Nottingham

5

4

4,367

8

Warrington

3

3

6,972

7

Southampton

4

4

4,510

7

Chesterfield

1

1

11,259

7

Sheffield also tops the overall rankings for being the best city for businesses to buy their own office space. With 26 spaces available to purchase within a mile of the city’s rail hub, there’s more choice here than anywhere else in the UK.

 

Chelmsford scores highly thanks to all of its purchasable office space having parking spaces for staff. The town in Essex is popular with businesses who want to be within commuting distance to London, but also easy access to the East of England.


Best UK cities for renting offices near commuter hubs:

Cities

No. offices to rent within 1 mile

No. offices with parking to rent

Avg. sq.ft. of each office space to rent

Total score / 30

Manchester

525

231

5,048

24

Leeds

224

149

10,658

19

Birmingham

318

182

5,187

18

Milton Keynes

98

56

12,185

14

London (Waterloo)

469

47

3,877

14

Watford

58

46

11,939

13

Cardiff

175

123

4,775

13

Glasgow

216

99

4,793

12

Sheffield

168

123

4,591

12

Newcastle upon Tyne

196

84

5,387

12

Aberdeen

81

56

9,530

12

Bristol

148

91

4608

11

Chelmsford

76

56

7,494

10

Woking

18

13

11,012

10

Nottingham

99

60

6,588

10

Brighton

87

39

7,023

9

Southampton

63

48

7,034

9

Liverpool [Lime street]

142

56

4,773

9

Sunderland

15

8

9,871

9

Basingstoke

12

10

9,051

8

According to our research, Manchester is the best city for renting office spaces close to Manchester Piccadilly train station. The station serves 32 million passengers annually, many of whom will be commuting into the city for work.

 

There were over 525 offices available to rent within a mile of Manchester Piccadilly, with over half of these having parking spaces available - a surprising result for office spaces in a busy city centre. An average square footage of 5,048 is smaller than many other cities in the UK, but is still bigger than London, which has an average rental space of 3,877 square feet.

 

The Yorkshire city of Leeds comes second in the rental rankings, with the Northern Powerhouse boasting an average office space size of 10,658 square feet. With 224 spaces to choose from within just one mile of Leeds Station, business owners should have no trouble finding adequate space to set up in.


Mark Kozo, Commercial Director at Approved Business Finance, said: “For businesses looking for their first office space, or those looking to expand into bigger premises, location is everything. While there has been a big drive towards remote working in recent years, the importance of an attractive, commutable central office space is never to be overstated.

 

“Some business owners prefer to rent office spaces, and there are several advantages to doing so. Access to shared amenities with other businesses is one, as well as the ability to move on quickly if consistent growth requires bigger spaces to hire more staff.


“However, some business owners prefer to own their business property outright, and have more control over things like access rights, consistent mortgage payments, and not having to ask a landlord's permission before undertaking any improvement works.

 

“For many small businesses, taking the step from being a home-based startup to owning a dedicated office space for new staff hires and growth can be daunting and expensive. It’s recommended to look into a commercial mortgage, which can feature lower interest rates and longer repayment terms than other finance options.”


Methodology

 

To determine where in the UK has the best office spaces for commuters, we used Rightmove and its search tool to discover available office spaces within one mile of the train station in each city. In cases where cities have more than one train station, the station with the highest number of commuters was used. We split office spaces that are to rent and buy and analysed how many of these come with parking spaces for staff, as well as the square footage of each office space.

 

All these figures were then given a weighted score out of 100 and ranked. The cities with the highest scores are the ‘best cities for office commuters’.

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