Living in Cardiff

Frequently found topping lists of the best cities in the UK to live, Cardiff has grown from a small often disregarded destination, to a buzzing hub of culture and cosmopolitan living. Still boasting its intimate vibe, it is now the sixth most prosperous city in the UK, beating major cities including Birmingham and Manchester. Cardiff has attracted both young career-focused people and young families in recent years eager for the fast-paced city life, but with a friendlier, local feel.

Job market

Cardiff’s economy is one of the most fruitful in the UK. As the main area of growth for Wales, Cardiff’s employment has been growing at almost double the rate across Great Britain in recent years.

Following the city’s heavy industry decline in the latter part of the 20th century, the city’s economy is now led by the service sector, with just 9% of employees working in manufacturing.

However despite its struggles, it has become a magnet for the media industries, with the BBC making full use of the city to film popular TV shows. Cardiff University has also attracted a wealth of talent in business and economics.

Key sectors for employment

Rising from the ashes of its manufacturing decline, Cardiff is now a great place to be for a number of industries.


The sixth best place to shop in the UK according to recent surveys, retail plays a large role in the city’s employment options. Being a small city by many standards, its shopping is highly concentrated, meaning it’s easily accessible from the surrounding areas. The ever-growing city is also set to boast one of the largest shopping centres in the UK with the expansion of St. David’s Centre.


Cardiff is home to many global financial services, including Legal & General, Zurich and ING Direct. As a result, its finance sector accounts for 50,000 city jobs, all of which have created a pool of qualified and highly skilled workers. It’s also helped contribute to the growing economy. The city was ranked seventh overall in the top 50 European cities in the FDI 2008 Cities of the Future list and was also ranked seventh in terms of attracting foreign investment.


BBC Wales, ITV Wales and S4C all boast studios in the city, while BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru also have studios in Cardiff. Consequently, employment has grown in-line with the sector’s worldwide growth and currently provides 2.1% of the city’s workforce – just 0.1% lower than the rest of the UK. Secondary to this, journalism, music, gaming and design are also flourishing in this new haven of modern creativity.


Cardiff currently boasts around 100 bioscience-related companies, while the university has cemented a growing reputation for research in bioscience-related practices. Large global companies such as Shaw Healthcare, Bio Trace and GE Healthcare – which employs over 1,000 people – along with smaller companies create a hub at the centre of a lot of development and research in a number of scientific areas.

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Cost of living

Cardiff has a long history of providing excellent value for money, with rents cheaper than many cities in the UK. Although they are lower than the average of many other top cities, prices are rising so it’s worth moving in soon.

General living costs are what you’d expect from a city, with a three-course meal for two at an average restaurant setting you back just over £60, and a beer costing less than £5 – on average.

Rent and property prices

The average one bedroom apartment in the city centre will set you back around £613.02 per month, while outside the city you’re looking at £581 per month.

For the average city centre house, expect to pay £915.19 per month, while outside the city, a house will cost around £704.78 a month.

According to Rightmove, the average cost of a terraced house is just over £193,000 compared with £232,000 for a semi detached. A flat will cost you a little over £146,000.

Going out

The younger crowd that has flocked to Cardiff means there’s plenty of places to eat and drink in the city. Pitch is an independent cocktail bar serving unique drinks created by award winning mixologists. For live music, nowhere compares to the award-winning Clwb Ifor Bach. Always busy, dancers can shake their hips to soul, funk and R&B or go back to simpler times with classic indie and rock ’n’ roll.

For those with kids, the Cedar Tree Farm is a carvery experience with a difference. A big cakey difference. The pub is home to some of the most impressive cakes in Wales – that’s if you’ve got room after the generous portions of course. The Fox and Hounds is another great family-friendly pub, boasting a play area outside.

Schools and education

There are plenty of schools to choose from in Cardiff, but it’s important to know which are English speaking schools and which are Welsh speaking schools if your children don’t speak Welsh. Millbank Primary School and Moorland Primary are two of the best state schools for those up to 11, while Cardiff High and Fitzalan High School are the best performing for those up to 18. Co-educational independent school St John’s College is a great private school, and even boasts musical scholarships.

Cardiff University is a top five university for research excellence and consequently attracts students from around the world. As the largest provider of adult education in Wales, it hosts around 30,000 students across medical, psychology, business and of course science schools, so attracts all kinds of students.

History and culture

Cardiff has a strong culture, with a history dating back over 2000 years. It was granted city status in 1905 after it became the largest coal exporting port in the world thanks to the Glamorganshire Canal which linked Merthyr Tydfil with Cardiff. Nowadays, Cardiff Bay is a modern waterside development.

The National Museum Cardiff has a busy program of events running throughout the year and celebrates some of Wales’ most recognizable exports. Cardiff is also served by three cinemas and three theatres which attract a number of large productions, as well as small and independent touring productions.

Sports and outdoor activities

Wales’ first sport is rugby, and the Cardiff Blues are just one of four professional rugby teams in Wales. Football however is also a big sport, with Cardiff F.C being one of the most successful teams in the country.

The Millennium Stadium, originally built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, has played host to a number of games and matches over the years, and has really brought sport to the forefront of the city.

Thanks to Cardiff’s strong sporting focus, there’s a plethora of sports facilities dotted around the city, as well as amateur teams to get involved in.