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Exploring Life in Leeds – An In-Depth Guide

An insider scoop on the next up-and-coming area. With heaps to do, see, and eat, what else could you ask for?

Right in the centre of West Yorkshire is Leeds, and with its fantastic infrastructure, culture and opportunities, it’s fast becoming the place to be. With more than 800 years of history, Leeds is the beating heart of the area thanks to fabulous places to eat and drink, things to see and do, and a robust travel network that makes it ideal for professionals and families alike.

So, if you’re looking to move into the area, you’re probably keen to know more about the pros and cons of living in Leeds. In this article, we’re going to explore exactly that. We’ll let you know all about what the city’s like, whether or not it’s a nice place to live, and look into the wide range of things to relax, have fun and learn. 

What is living in Leeds like?

Leeds is a busy and thriving city, and is actually one of the top five biggest cities in the UK. It has a range of fantastic amenities and infrastructure in place, including places to eat and drink, things to do and places to immerse yourself in the fantastic culture. There are also five universities, including the University of Leeds, which is in the top 100 universities in the world.

On top of all this, Leeds is also an affordable place to live. Not only is housing more affordable, but the cost of living in Leeds is 42% cheaper than London.

Despite Leeds being such a large city, escaping the hustle and bustle is simple, with the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District just a short drive away. If you need to travel outside of the city for work or pleasure, Leeds has fantastic links to the M1, M62, M621 and A1(M). By rail, a train to London takes less than three hours or it’s less than an hour to Manchester. If you’re going further afield, Leeds Bradford Airport has between 25 and 30 flights per day to cities across Europe and beyond.

Is Leeds a nice place to live?

Yes, Leeds is a fantastic place to live. In fact, in the Sunday Times Best Place to Live 2023 guide, they named Leeds as one of the best places to live in the North and North East. That kinda makes it official. This is thanks to the huge amount Leeds has to offer, from the brilliant shopping options to being almost unbeatable when it comes to culture. Nowhere else outside of the capital does a city have its own opera, opera house, theatre and ballet.

Is Leeds a safe place to live?

Crime in Leeds is higher than the UK average, and is in the top 10 for crime in West Yorkshire, with 172 crimes per 1,000 people. However, this is to be expected in a city as large as Leeds. The most common crimes are anti-social behaviour and bike theft.

Eating in Leeds

Whether you’re after a hearty Sunday lunch, a quick bite to eat on the go, or a luxurious Michelin-starred meal, Leeds is home to an incredible range of food options so you’ll be spoilt for choice when your stomach starts rumbling.

For an incredible pub lunch, the Cardigan Arms offers a small but varied menu, including burgers, hot dogs and loaded fries which hit the spot. But where they really excel is with Sunday lunch, serving up a selection of dishes including their famous roast.

Ox Club has featured in the Good Food Guide and Michelin Guide, serving up perfectly cooked steaks, oysters and Sunday dinners to die for. The smoked Bloody Mary is something that has to be tasted to be believed.

If you’re not quite sure what you fancy, LIVIN’Italy serves everything from breakfast to pizza, all with rich Italian flavours. Nonna’s meatballs are a particularly delicious highlight.

If street food is more your scene, Leeds has a plethora of talented chefs and vendors serving up dishes from around the world. The Yorkshire Wrap Company offers all the flavours of a Sunday roast in the form of an on-the-go wrap. Dough Boys sells pizza by the slice, with toppings ranging from sausage fest to queen brie. Then there’s Mowgli, which serves Indian street food that gives you the chance to try a whole new world of incredible flavours. 

Pubs and bars in Leeds

Leeds is absolutely bursting at the seams with fantastic places to enjoy a drink, from character-laden historic boozers hidden down alleyways to bouncing venues with weekly live music and DJs.

The Scarborough Hotel has been crowned the best pub in the city with a reputation for great food and a wide range of drinks. The Duck & Drake has nightly live rock music from up-and-coming acts, as well as serving some of the best pie and peas around. Then there’s the Moot Hall Arms, the best pub in the city on match day and packed with Leeds United memorabilia.

For more information, read our post on the best pubs in Leeds.

Shopping in Leeds

If you love a good shopping spree, you can’t do much better than Leeds, which is home to everything from big high-street names to small but fabulous boutiques.

Trinity Leeds is the city’s biggest shopping centre, with 120 shops and places to grab something to eat or drink, all beneath the awe-inspiring glass roof. You’ll find plenty of big-name brands here, with something for everyone.

If you like to support independent shops and look for exclusive items and trends, Leeds Corn Exchange has been home to dozens of small stores for over 150 years, with retailers selling everything from fashion to art. And that’s just one of several shopping arcades across the city.

And not forgetting Kirkgate Market, where 400 sellers provide locals with everything they could possibly need. If it’s on your shopping list, it’s probably available at Kirkgate Market.

Things to do in Leeds

As well as providing plenty of places to eat, drink and shop, Leeds is also the place to be for access to attractions, countryside and culture.

You could discover what wildlife you can spot at Rodley Nature Reserve, or explore the vast and incredible Yorkshire Dales. Or, you could explore history at Kirkstall Abbey, and learn a thing or two about the city’s vibrant past at Leeds City Museum.

If you’ve got kids in tow, they’ll love having a cream tea surrounded by adorable cats at Kitty Cafe, then they can burn off all that energy at Clip n’ Climb or Jump Inc, the trampoline park.

In the evenings, you can catch a show at Leeds Heritage Theatres, escape to an underground jazz bar or try to get a hole in one at the eclectic Junkyard Golf Club.

Living in Leeds with UNCLE

As you can see, living in Leeds offers you everything you could need, from food and drink to shopping and entertainment. So, why not see what this incredible city can offer you?

Learn more about Living with UNCLE in Leeds to find out just how simple and affordable living in Leeds can be.

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