5 reasons why you should move to Leeds

PUBLISHED: 12:02 22 October 2019

Leeds Civic Hall

Leeds Civic Hall

Martin Walker

Neighbourhood know-how, places and people.

A busy BriggateA busy Briggate

Location, Location

Not long ago Leeds city centre was like many others in Britain, dark and dilapidated. Wind the clock forward a generation and it couldn't be more different. People are returning and staying for longer, with the inner city population trebling in just 13 years (up to 2015) to nearly 35,000. Old buildings are being revitalised and striking new developments have transformed the city centre skyline. The range of shops, eateries, bars, gyms and cafes is stupendous and who wants the slog of a daily commute to work when you can walk there in ten minutes? A boom in creative industries (Channel Four is relocating here) allied to Leeds' status as a financial and commercial law powerhouse, has brought young professionals from across the globe. Older people are also rediscovering the joy of being at the heart of things.

It's a moot point whether owning a car is a good idea if you live in Leeds. Parking is a problem and in any case, much of the centre is pedestrianised, the bus network is pretty good and new cycle lanes have been built. You can even take a water taxi between Leeds Dock (Royal Armouries) and Granary Wharf, running every 15 minutes daily apart from Sunday. Leeds railway station is England's busiest outside London, serving hundreds of destinations, with London two hours away. If you fancy a trip to the Dales, Settle can be reached in 60 minutes, whilst Scarborough is 80 minutes away.

Leeds waterfrontLeeds waterfront

Bag a property

Demand has seen city centre rents increase by £100 over the past year. A one bed flat in the sought after Granary Wharf area will now set you back up to £900 per month and to buy will cost £180,000. Prices vary dramatically block to block and other hotspots include Merchants Quay, where a new build two bed apartment goes for £250,000. A penthouse with expansive views over the city centre starts at £650,000.

But it's not all flats. Strata's mid-terraced development along the revitalised Leeds-Liverpool canal has been a hit, with prices starting from £225,000. CITU (Climate Innovation District) is another development on the South Bank. Over 800 low carbon homes are being built, with timber construction, solar panels and advanced insulation. Prices start at £300,000 and the first residents have moved in to this Scandinavian inspired neighbourhood.

Leeds City SquareLeeds City Square


Leeds city centre boasts some of Britain's quirkiest Victorian architecture. Look out for the odd ball 1830s Temple Works, a former flax mill, designed by an eccentric owner to look like an Egyptian monument, with six stone pillars standing in homage to the Temple of Horus at Edfu. The Leeds to Liverpool Canal towpath is a green artery running through the city centre and popular for a run or stroll.

Brilliant for a family outing is the Tropical World at Roundhay Park, with exotic butterflies and birds free to flutter in a rainforest environment and meerkats lurking in the desert zone. The Royal Armouries and the Thackray Medical Museum (also superb for kids) are a must, whilst the Henry Moore Institute is part of a heavyweight cultural offering that includes the refurbished West Yorkshire Playhouse, Northern Ballet and Opera North. And don't forget Hyde Park Picture House, built in 1914, one of the oldest cinemas in Britain and still in business.

The IvyThe Ivy

Cafe and cocktails

The Arts Cafe in The Calls has been around years and just gets better for its food. Bundobust does lovely Indian street food near the railway station and is always packed and Friends of Ham is highly rated in the same area. Roof gardens are all the rage in Leeds and East Parade Social has a beauty overlooking the Town Hall, offering food, drink and coffee.

Iberica offers up market tapas in a lovely old auction house, and Fettle on Great George Street is a Scandinavian cafe during the day and now opens in the evening, with good vegan and vegetarian dishes. For cocktails try Maven in The Calls and the Wapentake is also good for a tipple. Owt in Kirkgate Market uses only ingredients bought from stallholders (the menu changes every week) and for a slice of old Leeds try Whitelocks, tucked away in an alley and still going strong after 300 years.

Trinity ArcadeTrinity Arcade

Retail therapy

Leeds offers the best shopping experience outside London. Kirkgate Market, with its stunning architecture and iron roof work, is home to over 800 stalls, and the upmarket Victoria Quarter is equally magnificent, home to the first Harvey Nichols store outside London, and designed by Frank Matcham, who also built the London Palladium.

The Retro Boutique near Hyde Park is good for pre-loved furniture and homeware and tucked away in Thornton's Arcade is the Village Bookstore, with an impressive collection of self-published magazine. Twit-woo Vintage in the Corn Exchange (a great place for indy shops) has classic old school finds from dresses, jackets and scarves to bags and the work of young designers can be found at Lambert's Yard, Lower Briggate. Jumbo records in the Merrion Centre is a local institution and has been spinning the vinyl since 1971.

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