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Considering Living in Leeds vs London? Weigh Your Options

What to know before making that big move. Check out this blog as we put London to Leeds head-to-head.

Both London and Leeds are in the top five biggest cities in the UK, which means they’re both great places to live. From fantastic infrastructure and places to eat, to entertainment and work opportunities, each city has plenty to offer.

But how do you know which is right for you? When faced with the choice of living in Leeds vs London, how can you weigh up your options? One is the capital of the UK and has a reputation as somewhere to chase your dreams, but that doesn’t mean Leeds should be immediately dismissed – it’s the fourth biggest city in the UK for a reason.

So, in this guide, we’re going to explore the ins and outs of London and Leeds to help you work out which might be the best option for you, so you can make that big move and discover the life you want to live.

How does Leeds compare to London?

London is arguably one of the most famous cities in the world. It’s home to the Royal Family, hundreds of world-famous landmarks and attractions, more dining options than you could get to in 50 lifetimes… the list goes on. There’s a reason why more than 30 million people visit London each year.

But, just how does Leeds compare? There might be 200 miles between the two cities, but there are plenty of similarities – as well as a few key differences – that might just make Leeds a more appealing city to call home. Below, we’ll take a closer look at several factors that might just help sway your decision either way.

Things to see and do

When it comes to things to see and do, both cities have loads of options.

London

  • More recognisable landmarks than you can shake a stick at, including Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Parliament and Big Ben.
  • Historic museums and galleries, including the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum, Tate Modern and the National Gallery.
  • A bustling live theatre scene showing everything from plays to musicals from top global talent.
  • Shopping options to suit all tastes and budgets, including Westfield shopping centre, Camden Market, Oxford Street and more.
  • Huge open parks, like Hyde Park, Regents Park and Hampstead Heath.

Leeds

  • Heaps of history found at sites such as Leeds Castle and Kirkstall Abbey.
  • Museums and galleries of all types, like Abbey House Museum, Leeds City Museum, Leeds Discovery Centre and more.
  • Oodles of culture (highlighted by 2023 being the year of culture in Leeds) celebrated in festivals that cover music, literature, film and more.
  • Countless shopping options, including the Trinity Leeds and the famous Corn Exchange. Kirkgate Market also has hundreds of market stalls and is one of Europe’s biggest covered markets.
  • Loads of open spaces like Roundhay Park and Temple Newsam.

Places to eat & drink

For many, a city is only as great as the diversity and quality of the food and drink on offer – and both London and Leeds have them by the bucket full.

Any celebrity chef worth their salt will have a restaurant in or around London. Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal, Marcus Wareing… the list goes on and on. If you’re after a Michelin-starred culinary experience, you can take your pick from some of the most celebrated chefs in the world.

But, if you’re keen on big flavours but not big price tags, there are plenty of great spots to grab incredible food from all corners of the globe. Borough Market, the Southbank Centre, Eataly, Market Halls Victoria… all street food paradises with masses of mouth-watering choices.

Then, of course, there are the chain restaurants you know and love and independent gems that serve authentic Mexican, curry, pizza, Chinese, American, brunch… we couldn’t possibly list them all, but you get the idea.

If you’re a serious foodie, you really can’t get any better than London, but Leeds does what it can to give it a run for its money. Enjoy the huge selection of local boozers – many of them hidden down mysterious alleyways – that serve craft ales, ciders and cocktails. And if you fancy somewhere to catch live music, many pubs have a stage and host musicians throughout the week.

There are great fine dining and celebrity-helmed restaurants, like those from Gino D'Acampo and Michael O'Hare. Or for a taste sensation on the go, Kirkgate Market has an array of beautiful street food options. And, of course, most of your favourite chains call Leeds their home too. Plus, you just have to try an incredible Yorkshire pudding wrap!

Travel options

Each city has its own transportation network, so wherever you happen to be, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting to where you need to go.

London has the world-famous tube, with a train usually just a couple of minutes away. There are also the buses and overground rail services, National Rail stations, and the iconic black cabs. If you fancy making your own way there, the roads can be tricky to navigate and a little stressful, but getting around by bike is becoming increasingly popular. This is on top of the river transport and cable car – and six international airports.

Leeds isn’t quite as big as London, so while it doesn’t have the variety of transport options, getting around the city is just as simple. There are great bus links, train services, taxis and cycling options. There’s also Leeds Bradford Airport, which has around a dozen domestic and international flights a day.

The cost of living

London might have the facilities and opportunities to make it an attractive place to live, but one major stumbling block can be a deciding factor for many: cost.

London is a notoriously expensive city. As of early 2024, the average house price in the capital is £733,757. This is almost three times as much as Leeds, where the average price of a house is £249,547. On top of this, the general cost of living in Leeds is 42% cheaper than London. That means you’ll get far more for your money if you head to North Yorkshire.

The crime rate

As both London and Leeds are big, highly-populated cities, there will naturally be a higher rate of crime than you might find in towns and villages outside the hustle and bustle. But how exactly is Leeds’ crime rate vs London?

In the capital, there’s a crime rate of 87 per 1,000 people. In Leeds, this figure is higher, with 153 crimes per 1,000 people, with the most common crimes being anti-social behaviour and bike theft. This could be due to the large student population in the city, with the University of Leeds being one of the top 100 in the world.

Work

If you’re moving in search of work and new career opportunities, whether you choose London or Leeds may depend on your chosen industry. Being two of the country’s major cities, there are ample employment opportunities in both.

London is a popular city for many international businesses, and with a booming tourism trade, there are usually plenty of jobs available. London also offers a lot when it comes to networking and a wide variety of industries.

Leeds has a growing economy, and while it might not have the variety of London it’s fast becoming the city for many fintech, digital and legal businesses. It’s also a city where many businesses choose to base their regional headquarters.

Statistically, you’re likely to earn more in London, but the major caveat is, as we’ve already highlighted, you’re also likely to spend far more on accommodation and other living costs. Leeds strikes a great balance between opportunities, earning potential and cost of living, which might be another reason why it’s a great option for you.

Renting in Leeds with UNCLE

Now you know more about what it’s like living in Leeds vs London, are you ready to take that step and make your big move? Learn more about Living with UNCLE in Leeds and find your perfect fully-serviced apartment in the heart of the city.

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