Moving to Leeds
Leeds, positioned in the centre of West Yorkshire, has a lot of heart. There’s much to love in this city which seems to tick all the boxes: strong economy, cool culture, green landscapes and fantastic urban centre. Why not settle down with a nice cup of Yorkshire tea and learn more about Leeds?
Living in Leeds
Housing and cost of living
If you love a thriving city centre as much as a peaceful countryside vista, then Leeds could be the perfect place for you. Much like London and Birmingham, Leeds feels like a cohesive collection of commuter villages around a city centre, each area with its own distinctive features, while still feeling very much like part of the city as a whole.
Chapel Allerton is well known as the top neighbourhood. North of the city centre but still close by, the cafe culture and plentiful amenities make it a popular choice with young professionals and families alike.
The average house price here is £221,000, a little above the city-wide average of £193,000. Horsforth is vying for position as another increasingly popular area. It’s farther out of the centre but has great transport links, not only back into Leeds, but also to many other large cities to the north. Many young families are moving to this area, picking out charming stone terraced houses for their next buy, at an average of £264,000. It’s a great place for that transition into family life, as it has equally good schools as it does nightlife and bars.
Back in the city centre, modern blocks of flats are plenteous. Rental costs for a one-bed will range from £600-900 per month, depending on size and luxury-factor. A pleasant discount from average London rents, leaving more than enough money for your grocery shopping and a pint at the pub, both of which will come in at around 20% below average from the capital city.
Outside of the urban area, over 65% of the district is green belt land, and better yet, you’re only 20 miles away from the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Leeds is well known as one of the most popular student cities in the UK, with the University of Leeds alone hosting over 33,000 students. The city centre is home to three more universities too. There’s Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University, and new newest addition, the University of Law which moved from York in 2014.
There are three other Higher Education Institutions in the city that support Leeds’ cultural status: Leeds College of Art, Leeds College of Music and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.
At primary and secondary education level, The Grammar School at Leeds is a top class fee-paying independent school, which has exemplary facilities and impressive grounds.
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It’s a rare thing in UK cities, especially in the North, to have a successful and diverse economy, but Leeds has done just that. Workers in the city are split evenly between the public sector, private sector and service industries. Finance and legal are well supported in the city. Leeds is widely regarded as the strongest legal centre outside of London.
Dozens of banks and other financial services have offices here, as well as the only subsidiary office of the Bank of England, no less! Creative industries figure in the job market too – big players in gaming like Rockstar Leeds sit comfortably alongside smaller development studios in an inclusive creative community.
Not wishing to completely leave behind it’s roots as a bastion of industry, Leeds is also still the third largest manufacturing centre in the country.
Ahead of even London, the Times voted Leeds the number one ‘best cultural place to live in Britain’ this year. There are well regarded organisations across Leeds that provide year round entertainment – check out the programmes for The Northern Ballet, Opera North and the West Yorkshire Playhouse for starters.
The two main city plazas, Millennium Square and Victoria Square, sit alongside each other and are home to the Leeds City Museum and Leeds Art Gallery, respectively. Be sure to admire the Henry Moore sculpture on the steps outside the art gallery. Along with fellow sculptor Barbara Hepworth, Moore honed his craft at Leeds College of Art in the 1920s.
A newer addition to the city’s public museums is the Royal Armouries Museum. Opened in 1996, here you can ogle fascinating exhibits that used to be held in the Tower of London. Leeds is extremely proud of its heritage in film and cinema – did you know that in 1888, Louis Le Prince filmed moving picture sequences in Leeds, that are the oldest surviving film in the world? The Leeds International Film Festival is an annual event that draws fans from across the country.
Loved by locals, Leeds also has two of the oldest running cinemas in the country, the Cottage Road Cinema first opened in 1912 and Hyde Park Picture House in 1914. For a more modern option with a touch of class, settle into an armchair at the Everyman Cinema in Trinity Leeds shopping arcade then slope up to the terrace for a post-film cocktail.
Things to do
Leeds is a dream for shopaholics, with no less than 8 indoor shopping centres, as well as the main pedestrianised shopping street Briggate with its many arcades, some dating back to the late 1800s. All tastes and budgets are catered for – if high-end brands are what you’re after, the Victoria Quarter is the place to be, with luxury boutiques and a Harvey Nichols. The Corn Exchange is worth a visit for the architecture alone, but as an added bonus, this refurbished building also has quirky independent shops and cafes inside.
Pounding the pavements may be exercise enough for some, but if you’re looking for a little more greenery on a walk, Leeds has some lovely parks and open spaces to explore. Roundhay Park is one of the largest city parks in Europe. There’s lakes, tropical glasshouses, landscaped gardens and open areas which hold big events like concerts and the Leeds Asian Festival.
If you’ve worked up an appetite exploring all that Leeds has to offer, you’ll be pleased to hear that the foodie scene is big here. New independent cafes and restaurants are popping up all the time, and the city has received its first Michelin star in quite a while for the avant-garde restaurant The Man Behind the Curtain. The 10 course tasting menu is fast becoming the stuff of legends – the kitchen decides the dishes each day, and every plate looks like a piece of modern art.
A guide to Leeds wouldn’t be complete without a mention to the oldest pub in the city – Whitelocks is traditional and welcoming, that is, if you can find the elusive entrance down one of the signature alleyways of Briggate.