Moving to Leicester from the US
It may be overlooked by the majority of people moving to the UK, Leicester has a lot to offer. For those looking for a culturally diverse city with outstanding architectural history, great shopping and transport links, as well as some of the most highly regarded neighbourhoods in the region, Leicester ticks a lot of boxes.
The 10th largest city in the UK, with 330,000 people living in the Leicester you’ll find a wide range of cultural backgrounds with long established Afro-Caribbean and South Asian communities throughout the city itself and the wider metropolitan area. This brings with it a heady mix of different cuisines, shopping experiences and a flavour of life that is full of exuberance and passion comparable to London.
History oozes from every street corner and building, with the city being widely accepted as one of the best cities in the UK for retaining its architecture from a long period of history. From the Roman baths and cobbled streets, to the regenerated buildings of its industrial past as a hub of textile production, wherever you look there is pride and the positive marks of history on the city.
Recently voted in the top 10 cities to visit in the world by Lonely Planet, Leicester has a few famous attractions, including the King Richard III Visitor Centre and the National Space Centre offering adults and children the chance to learn all about British space exploration in a fun environment.
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If you love sport then there are a couple of big names in Leicester itself, you can pop along to Welford Road to watch the Leicester Tigers in the rough and tumble of top flight rugby union. If the round ball is more your thing, the King Power Stadium hosts Premier League football, with all the thrills and spills that entails and a worldwide audience every other weekend. The people of Leicester, no matter their family background, are passionate about their city and proud to champion its cause wherever they go.
There are some disparities within the job market in Leicester and the surrounding areas. On one hand it does have the largest economy in the East Midlands with an estimated GVA (Gross Value Added) of $19 billion. There are principal offices for some leading companies such as, British Gas, Dunelm Mill, Next, DHL and British Telecom based in Leicestershire, which shows the prestige with which the area is held within business circles.
Having a number of large, principal offices for major companies is an enticing prospect for those looking to move into the area, with the added employment prospects it inherently brings, but alongside that there are some concerns, with the latest unemployment figures holding Leicester in the top 3 within the UK for local authorities. Historically it was a hub for textile production, but much of the business has been lost to cheaper Asian markets in recent years, leading to pockets of higher unemployment, though Next are still a large employer for many within the city and surrounding areas within that industry.
Overall, when compared to the rest of the UK, Leicester has an average cost of living, with areas varying wildly between high priced property and living costs, and relatively low income areas. For the Midlands and further South in England the costs compare quite similarly.
Food and drink
The cost of food and drink in Leicester is about average for UK prices, with a litre of milk and a loaf of bread both costing on average $12.50 when talking about your daily staples. If you like to eat out occasionally a three-course meal for two at a reasonable restaurant would set you back around $62.
Your basic utilities for a two-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost you around $1.86 per month on average. This includes electricity, heating and water. The cost of basic internet is currently around $1.25, which compares favourably to other parts of the Midlands and the rest of the UK.
Leicester has an extensive bus network that reaches all parts of the city and surrounding areas. A single ticket will cost you around $3.10 on the bus, but the best value on the local buses is to purchase a flexi day ticket for $6.20. This offers unlimited travel on the day of purchase on any of the bus services. A flexi weekly ticket costs $24.
For trains in and out of the city, there are regular services between London St. Pancras operated by East Midlands Trains, as well as a Cross Country Trains service between Birmingham New Street and Leicester on a daily basis.
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Property within Leicester is very similar to most major cities in the UK, in that the city centre has many apartment style properties with larger houses available in the more up market suburban areas. The unemployment rates and pockets of low income within certain areas of Leicester immediately surrounding the city centre has done nothing to dent the average property prices in comparison to other parts of the country.
The average cost to purchase a house in Leicester is around $186,050. In 2014 Leicester was fourth in the UK list of cities for property price growth and prices continue to increase. The average rental costs are low when compared to other UK cities, with a city centre apartment (1 bedroom) costing $620, this cost reduces further to around $500 for a suburban apartment.
Upmarket: Clarendon Park/Stoneygate is the most expensive area close to the city centre. It is a mixture of upmarket housing, a family friendly community and a good place for young professionals to call their first home.
Hip & trendy: The Cultural Quarter in the eastern part of the city centre has undergone some renovations in recent times. Ideal for young professionals and within easy walking distance of the railway station, as well as countless bars, restaurants and theatres, it is the trendiest part of town to live.
Family-friendly: Oadby is a small village located about 5 miles southeast of Leicester City Centre. It is famous for Leicester Racecourse and the University Botanical Garden. It is a quaint, stereotypical English country town and is a family-friendly community with good transport links to the city and local shops and old-fashioned pubs.
Up & coming: Unless they accidentally find another long dead monarch in the city centre of Leicester, the southern and western suburbs of the city are due for some improvements in the coming years, pending budget approval.
Cost of moving
Schools and education
Within the city boundaries of Leicester itself there are over 70 primary schools and 30 secondary schools. The majority of these are state funded schools, with a small number of independent schools. There are also a small number of specialist schools, such as Ellesmere College, which is widely regarded as the leading specialist sports school in the area.
Well-regarded primary schools include St John the Baptist CofE and Overdale, whilst at secondary level Crown Hills Community and Moat Community are both thought of as good schools.
With two nationally renowned Universities, Leicester is a top destination for students of higher education. De Montford University is highly regarded for the quality of its teaching and the number of teaching fellows, whilst the University of Leicester is regularly ranked within the top 10 universities in the UK for its research facilities. It was here that genetic fingerprinting was invented and where the remains of King Richard III were discovered.
Ranking against the world
Leicester may well be the hidden gem of the UK. Often forgotten about and much maligned, Leicester holds some fascinating cultural options for those looking for a vibrant social life. It also has an ethnically diverse makeup, contributing to myriad cuisines, art and shopping possibilities. For education the schools stack up against anything you’ll find in the rest of the Midlands, and as for the Universities within the city, they both find themselves highly regarded within their fields and regularly competing near the top of their respective rankings.
For cost of living and property prices, Leicester isn’t far from the country average and with fast train links being developed in the last decade, it now finds itself as an important and attractive city to live in for young professionals who are looking for a way out of London. The capital is only around an hour away so professionals can work in London and have a more relaxed life in what is still a vibrant, but smaller city in Leicester.
A day in the life
As a Leicester resident there’s a lot to choose from to occupy your day. You can start with a walk in the parks of Stoneygate, finishing off your early start in one of the delightful coffee shops along Queens Road in Clarendon Park.
If you’ve got a young family you can launch into space, learning about all there is to know about British space exploration through the fun, interactive presentations and exhibitions at the National Space Centre. Alternatively you can take in the King Richard III Visitor Centre to see the remains of one of the most famous monarchs.
If you want to do some shopping, where better than the famous Golden Mile, where you can find all sorts of exotic Indian cuisine, fabrics, spices and much more in the treasure troves on offer. For the sporting types, you’ll have a choice of the rugby union at Welford Road or the King Power Stadium to take in the action from the best football league in the world.
The evening can wind down with a meal from one of the many types of cuisine within the revamped Cultural Quarter in the city. Sit back with a glass of wine and a nice meal, and decide later on whether you want to take in a show or head out long into the night in one of the clubs or bars in central Leicester.