Moving to Leeds
An overview of Leeds
Leeds, positioned in the centre of West Yorkshire, has a lot of heart.
Once the industrial capital of Yorkshire, Leeds is now a trendy, modern city with a popping arts scene and growing tech industry. Its beautiful shopping quarters, fashionable bars, and swathes of green space make it popular with young people and families alike. 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.
The city is diverse and cosmopolitan, with almost 13% of its 800,000-strong population being born overseas (only slightly below the UK-wide figure of 14%).
A Victorian bandstand in Roundhay Park, northeast Leeds
The cost of moving to Leeds
The cost of moving to Leeds will of course depend on two key factors: where you’re moving from, and how much stuff you’re moving.
If you are looking to move the contents of a three-bedroom house (roughly 875 cubic metres of stuff) from London to Leeds, you should expect to pay roughly £1,331. This fee includes:
- packing services/materials
- dismantling/reassembling of furniture
- the fee for distance travelled
The drive from London to Leeds is around 200 miles, and most removal companies charge £1 per mile (source: comparemymove, 2020).
The amount of money you’ll end up paying for the move will also depend on the removal company you hire, your moving date, and whether you opt for any supplemental services, such as packing and assembly.
The cost of living in Leeds
Leeds is certainly not one of the more expensive cities in the UK, especially when compared to the towns and cities in the south. Here’s a rough idea of what certain things will cost you in Leeds (source: Numbeo, 2020).
|Pint of beer||£3.50|
|Mid-range bottle of wine||£7|
|Monthly public transport pass||£60.50|
|Cinema ticket for one||£8|
|Monthly gym subscription||£28.77|
|1kg of local cheese||£4.64|
House prices in Leeds are basically middle of the pack when it comes to a UK-wide comparison.
In Zoopla’s UK Cities House Price Index 2019, Leeds placed 13th in a ranking of 20 UK cities, with a house-price-to-earnings ratio of 5.7.
What does this mean? The house-price-to-earnings ratio tells you how affordable housing is in a particular area, and it’s calculated by dividing the average property price by the average annual salary. The higher the number, the more expensive the area’s property is (relative to earnings).
Leeds’s ratio of 5.7 isn’t too bad, especially considering London, Cambridge and Oxford sit at the top with 13.1, 12.2, and 11.9 respectively.
The average house price in Leeds has increased by 9.26% over the past 12 months to £229,876. However, the average price for flats is significantly lower, at £171,519, and the average price for terraced housing lower still, at £158,583 (source: Zoopla, 2020).
If you’re looking to rent in Leeds, the average cost of rent in the city in 2019 was £715 per month – noticeably lower than the national average of £886 (source: Leeds Live, 2019).
The council tax bands in Leeds for 2020/21 range from £1,140.76 per year (A) to £3,422.29 per year (H), depending on the type and location of your property. There is also a reduced rate of £950.63 per year for disability discount.
Similar to house prices, electricity bills in Leeds are basically the same as the UK average.
The average fixed cost of electricity in Yorkshire is £86.75 per year, which is £2 higher than the UK average of £84.62. Meanwhile, the average variable unit price of electricity in Yorkshire is 17.6p per kWh, which is 0.3p lower than the UK average of 17.9p (source: nimblefins, 2020).
Getting in and out of Leeds
We’re not trying to suggest that escaping Leeds should be a top priority once you’ve moved there, but there are definitely advantages to living in an accessible city. Like when you want to go on holiday, for instance.
Fortunately, Leeds isn’t a fortress. Accessing the city by road is easy as pie; the M1 runs right through it. You can get to Leeds Bradford Airport in 30 minutes, and Leeds railway station runs direct trains to cities all over the country. A train to London takes just over two hours.
For more information, check out the visitleeds website.
Public transport in Leeds
The city of Leeds is pretty compact, so it’s easy to walk everywhere. However, if you’re thinking about your new commute, you’ll be relieved to know that Leeds has excellent public transport options.
Its network of buses and trains normally run from around 5am – 11pm, with smaller train stations located in many of the Leeds suburbs. A weekly bus pass costs £17 on the mTickets app, while a weekly train pass from a Leeds suburb (e.g. Headingley) to the city centre is around £55.
Find out more information about Leeds public transport in the NewToLeeds guide.
Working in Leeds
In terms of employment, Leeds is full of opportunity.
According to Leeds City Council, the city’s economy grew by 34% over the past ten years, and it is forecast to grow by a further 21% over the next decade. Other than London and Cambridge, Leeds is the UK’s most popular place for fast-growing firms.
Key sectors in Leeds include financial and business services (38% of total output), retail, leisure, tourism, manufacturing, construction, and the creative industries.
Companies employing more than 1,000 people in Leeds include Centrica, BT, Yorkshire Bank, Direct Line, Asda Group, and Ventura. There are also three universities, and the largest teaching hospital trust in Europe.
Crime and safety in Leeds
Leeds isn’t one of the safest places in the UK, but it’s unusual for a big city to perform well when it comes to crime rates. And, like most cities, in Leeds you’ll find a mixture of particularly safe areas and unsafe areas.
In the year ending June 2020, the Leeds crime rate was ever so slightly higher than the average ‘across similar areas’, recording 123.36 crimes per 1,000 of the population.
The best neighbourhoods in Leeds
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. Here are three of our favourite Leeds neighbourhoods.
A peaceful neighbourhood for families
Average property price: £360,351
Situated three miles northeast of the city centre, Roundhay is probably the priciest part of Leeds. The area is full of Victorian homes that sit along the whopping 19th-century Roundhay Park (more on that further down the page), along with modern flats.
Residents here enjoy a peaceful, almost rural atmosphere, despite being so close to the centre of Leeds. Roundhay is well kitted out with bars, restaurants, delis and cafes, so you’ll have something to do on the weekend. There are also lots of fantastic schools in the Roundhay area, both primary and secondary. Check out the top schools in Roundhay.
Holbeck Urban Village
A trendy neighbourhood for young professionals
Average property price: £245,000
In the 18th century Holbeck was still a village situated outside Leeds, but it eventually became absorbed into the city proper, and by the mid-19th century it was right in the action. Holbeck today is quite a deprived part of Leeds, but a section of it has experienced significant regeneration in recent years – this is the Holbeck Urban Village.
The new flats there are very snazzy, and a whole mixture of techy startups, leisure facilities, bars, pubs and restaurants have popped up along the canal. The indie breweries near Granary Wharf are a paradigm of northern hipsterdom.
A characterful neighbourhood for all ages
Average property price: £255,622
Located two miles northeast of the city centre, Chapel Allerton competes with York’s Bishopthorpe Road to be the ‘Notting Hill of the North’. It’s a village-like suburb, hosting a mixture of trendy bars and traditional pubs, boutiques and bookstores, Victorian and modern housing, along with a generous helping of green space.
The line of independent stores located on Harrogate Road is particularly popular with locals – particularly George & Joseph Cheesemongers, who came runner up in The Guild of Fine Food’s 2019 Shop of the Year Awards.
Things to do in Leeds
There’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Leeds, and the city is currently preparing a bid to be named the European Capital of Culture 2023. Here’s our rundown of the best bits.
Ahead of even London, in 2017 the Times voted Leeds the number one ‘best cultural place to live in Britain’. 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. There’s also the Royal Armouries Museum, where you can ogle fascinating exhibits that used to be held in the Tower of London.
Leeds is also extremely proud of its heritage in film and cinema – did you know that in 1888, Louis Le Prince filmed moving picture sequences in Leeds, which are the oldest surviving film in the world? The Leeds International Film Festival is an annual event that draws fans from across the country.
Leeds is a dream for shopaholics, with no less than eight indoor shopping centres, as well as the main pedestrianised shopping street Briggate with its many arcades – some dating back to the late 1800s.
In particular, the Grade II listed Grand Arcade is full of wonderful independent shops, and was designed by Victorian architect Frank Matcham. The rich marbles, gilded edges, and wrought iron archways are spectacular to behold, and conveniently really make you want to spend money.
Meanwhile, the impressive Victoria Gate opened in 2016, and was shortlisted for the ‘Best Shopping Centre in the World’ at the MIPIM Awards in 2017. It’s got a big glass ceiling, and it’s home to the largest John Lewis outside London.
If you fancy a night out in Leeds, you’ve got plenty of options. There are cosy speakeasy-style bars (The Domino), proper nightclubs (Tunnel), serious music venues (Brudenell Social Club), classy wine bars (The Decanter), and a glut of charming pubs.
A guide to Leeds wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the oldest pub in the city: Whitelocks. This ancient pub (serving beer since 1715) is traditional and welcoming – that is, if you can find the elusive entrance down one of the signature alleyways of Briggate.
For a longer rundown of Leeds’s best nightlife venues, check out this guide.
What began as a medieval hunting ground has become Leeds’s pride and joy. Roundhay Park was opened as a public park in 1872, and since then nothing in Leeds has been able to top it. At 700 acres it is one of the largest city parks in Europe, home to a wealth of woodland, lakes, gardens, and – most importantly – space. The park also houses the fascinating Tropical World (full of butterflies and meerkats) and loads of interesting birds (especially herons and woodpeckers).
If you’re into sport, Roundhay Park has pretty much got you covered. Football pitches, tennis courts, a golf course, a skate park, bowling greens, canoe clubs, grass for running on, lakes for swimming in – it’s all in the park.
So there you have it – hopefully you feel sufficiently more clued up on what Leeds has to offer. The heart of West Yorkshire is happy to have you, so long as you’re happy to be there.