The third biggest city in the UK, one of the major financial centres outside London and just a stone’s throw away from the stunning Yorkshire Dales, Leeds ticks all the boxes. Here’s why you should consider living and working in God’s Own Country.


Why Leeds?

Leeds is often seen as one of the UK’s trendier cities; you probably had a few mates who went to uni there, they probably appeared on Instagram with glitter all over their faces at least once a week. But most people don’t know it’s actually the third biggest city in the UK, with a whopping population of 779,000 people and home to hundreds of companies employing thousands of workers.

If you’re looking for somewhere to head after graduation you could do a lot worse than Leeds. It’s a geographically small city – you can easily walk from one end to the other – with a friendly atmosphere, but with the same sense of vibrant activity you would expect from the country’s bigger metropolitan hubs. On top of all the excitement going on in the city itself, you’re right on the doorstep of stunning rural landscapes, with easy links to Manchester, Sheffield and York.

Attracting lots of foreign investment and unique creativity, the city is bidding to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023. If you’ve yet to experience the city, you’re missing out.

On top of all the excitement going on in the city itself, you’re right on the doorstep of stunning rural landscapes


Employment opportunities

What many people don’t realise is that outside of London, Leeds is probably the biggest financial centre in the UK. 343,000 people are employed in the financial, legal, business support and professional sectors, and 200 accountancy and 180 legal firms are based in the city. You might think London is the main hub for big business in the UK, and while this is true, smaller cities like Leeds are quickly catching up and attracting huge amounts of investment.

Leeds is the largest manufacturing centre in the country, and other industries such as education, health, science, retail, digital, creative and publishing all offer a wealth of opportunities in the city. It’s not just finance and business that thrive in Leeds, but a whole range of industries are increasingly setting up operations in the Northern spot. Similarly the city is very receptive to start ups and SMEs – in the first three months of this year 1,232 start ups were created in the city.


Top employers

Hundreds of big employers have major operations in the city, so there’s a wide scope for graduate roles. From law and finance to retail and technology, whatever sector you’re interested in, Leeds will have roles perfect for you.

Here’s just some of the companies who have offices in Leeds, and they all advertise their roles on Debut, so keep checking in to be the first to hear when roles go live.

FDM // Arcadia // Colas // EY // IBM // Siemens // Standard Life // Willis Towers Watson // Mediacom (WPP)

A whole range of industries are increasingly setting up operations in the Northern spot.


Cost of living

Possibly the greatest thing about Northern living is how cheap everything is. It’s been ranked as the UK’s best city for quality of life, taking into account health, education, income and living costs. With living costs on average £377 per week, and the average pint costing a mere £2.40, Leeds comes in at 16.59% cheaper than London. What a bargain.

Leeds’ residents get all the benefits of living in an exciting vibrant cosmopolitan hub without the price tag. Like most Northern cities, rent is comparatively cheaper than down south and it’s easier to dine out and go for after-work drinks on a shoestring. You’ll still have access to some fantastic employment opportunities and career development paths, but you might actually be able to save money at the same time.



Of course it’s not all about jobs and money, the fun stuff is important too. What are you going to do outside of work? How are you going to spend your evenings and weekends? Living somewhere with a vibrant cultural scene with plenty to see and do is super important, and Leeds certainly doesn’t disappoint.

    • If you fancy indulging in a bit of educational culture during your time off, with all the museums and art galleries in Leeds you’ll be spoilt for choice. The Royal Armouries is the oldest museum in the UK and is housed in a stunning building overlooking the Leeds-Liverpool canal. The Thackray museum provides a history of medicine, while the Henry Moore Institute features some groundbreaking sculptures. Attractions like this mean you’ll never get bored during your time off.

    • You can see world class ballet at the Leeds Grand Theatre or up-and-coming pieces of theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. The Northern School of Contemporary dance is also based in the area, so you’ll be treated to some world-class performances.

    • Leeds has spawned hit music icons such as Corinne Bailey Rae and the Kaiser Chiefs, and it’s no surprise with such a thriving music scene. It has the First Direct Arena and O2 Academy for those bigger acts, but nothing beats the cheap drinks and atmosphere of Brudenell Social Club – an iconic music venue that still thrives today. And don’t forget that every summer they’re graced with the presence of Leeds Festival, one of the greatest music festivals in the country.

    • Often referred to as the ‘Knightsbridge of the North’, Leeds is a hub for designer and boutique fashions. Its famous arcades with their stunning architecture are home to a range of upmarket brands, while its brand new multi-million pound Victoria Quarter is the most luxurious shopping experience you could dream of. Don’t worry, Trinity Centre houses most of the mainstream names, while the Corn Exchange houses quirky independent shops and Kirkgate Market – home to Marks & Spencer – stocks literally everything at a fraction of the price you’ll find elsewhere.

    • Whether it’s Brazilian, Lebanese, Japanese or Indian, Leeds boasts a wide range of eateries for those after-work treats. Trinity Kitchen is a unique food court featuring a wide range of independent street food stalls which rotate on a monthly basis – and they’re cheap too!

    • Leeds has one of the highest concentrations of students in any UK city, with 65,000 pouring into the city every year, so it’s no surprise that Leeds’ nightlife is second to none. Whether you fancy the classier bars of Call Lane or a wild warehouse club night at Canal Mills, there’s no better place to work hard, play hard.

    • While the Leeds football team might not be up to much these days, you can head down to Carnegie Stadium to watch the Leeds Rhinos in action. The city has a proud sporting legacy, having helped train the Brownlee Brothers who went to win a range of Olympic medals and international titles – the city is now home to the first purpose-built triathlon training centre in the UK, the Brownlee centre. For running fans, the city is home to over 4,000 hectares of green space, perfect for getting that exercise in at the weekends.   


What’s nearby?

Literally everything. Well, not quite, but Leeds’ location and transport links make it the perfect base for travelling to the rest of the UK. You can easily reach Manchester, Sheffield and York on a quick train journey, or if you’re wanting to head a bit more rural, a half an hour bus journey will take you right into the Yorkshire Dales where you can wander through Ikley Moor or Otley Chevin.

Local towns, such as Knaresborough and Harrogate are some of the most beautiful in the country, or on the flipside, easy transport links to London (only 2.5 hours away) and Edinburgh mean it’s easy to spend a weekend in some of the UK’s tourist hotspots.

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