Leeds city centre at night

Reasons to live in Leeds — the definitive guide to moving to the “capital of the North”

The regional capital of the Yorkshire and Humber region is a certainly a city on the up.  For our latest city guide, we discover how this friendly, down-to-earth and no-nonsense northern powerhouse is an ideal destination for teaching staff looking to up sticks to greener pastures.

For educators, there’s a lot to admire about Leeds.

In its 800+ years of history, the city has always led the charge. From humble beginnings as a relatively insignificant borough, Leeds morphed into an industrial titan in the 18th and 19th centuries allowing the wool, flax, engineering, iron and printing industries to flourish. In the 21st century, it has become a major hub in finance, engineering, media, printing and publishing, food and drink, tourism, chemicals and medical technology.

The current combined population of the Leeds metropolitan area is 2.6 million making it the fourth-largest in the country and it’s one of the most multicultural UK cities outside of London, too. It also happens to be one of the UK’s greenest cities

With a diverse, fast-growing local economy, the future looks brights for the thousands of students currently enrolled in Leeds schools.

There’s certainly a precedent when it comes to aiming high. Alan Bennett, Mel B and Marco Pierre White were all born in Leeds. Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien lived in the city for a spell and taught at the University of Leeds. Even YBA trailblazer  Damien Hirst taught at the Leeds College of Art. 

It’s not an understatement to say that the city has produced its fair share of icons. And by teaching in Leeds, you could help inspire the next generation to emulate their heroes. If you’re a teacher thinking about making the move, here are some reasons to live in Leeds.

Leeds schools

When moving to a new city as a teacher, it’s important to find a suitable school that matches your experience and ambitions. And when it comes to schools in Leeds, teachers have a range of options to choose from.

 

Of the state-funded schools in the City of Leeds, there are over 200 primary schools, 40+ secondary schools, eight special and alternative schools, and four further education institutions.

 

Leeds is also home to five primary and preparatory schools, six senior and all-through schools, three special and alternative schools, and one college.

 

According to Totaljobs, the average teacher’s salary in Leeds is £37,500. Click here for the latest teaching jobs in Leeds.

Where to live in Leeds

Once you’ve found a school or college that aligns with your career ambitions and teaching style, the next step is to find somewhere to live. With affordable prices and a range of housing options across the city, it’s possible to find a good home on a teacher’s salary.

 

Covering an area of 551.7km², Leeds contains a broad range of neighbourhoods that cater to an even broader range of people.

 

Leeds suburbs that prove popular with young professionals include Horsforth, Chapel Allerton and Roundhay. All are leafy, well-connected and offer a strong collection of pubs, bars and restaurants to end the week on a high. Though long seen as the centre of student living in Leeds, another suburb, Headingley, is become increasingly popular with teachers, too.

 

If you’re more inclined to the hustle and bustle of city living, Leeds Waterfront is a thriving neighbourhood with everything you need on your doorstep — from shopping to transport to clubbing. And as the name suggests, you’ll be close to the banks of the River Aire.

 

Like other major cities, housing in Leeds city centre mostly consists of flats, apartments, studios and terraced houses. Towards the idyllic outer suburbs and surrounding villages, semi-detached and detached houses are more common.

 

To rent a one-bedroom flat in Leeds city centre, you’ll be expected to pay upwards of £650 a month in rent. In the suburbs, rent for 3-bedroom properties starts at around £800. 

 

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of city living or looking to set up shop in the suburbs, Leeds’ affordable prices — according to Numbeo data (as of May 2019), the cost of living in Leeds is 20% lower than in London — mean your salary will stretch further than it would in cities in the south of England.

Transport in Leeds

Getting from A to B in Leeds is easy thanks to its extensive public transport system.

 

Leeds Railway Station is an important hub on the British rail network. It’s the busiest railway station in the North of England and the third busiest in the UK outside London. It’s also the terminus of the Leeds branch of the East Coast Main Line, acting as an important cross-country stop between Scotland, the Midlands and South West England.

 

Leeds is a fantastic base to explore the North. Aside from regular inter-city services to other major destinations in Northern England (including Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle). It’s also a hub for regional and local destinations across Yorkshire (such as Hull, Sheffield, York, Doncaster and Scarborough).

 

West Yorkshire also has its own Metro commuter network, of which Leeds is the central hub. The Metro provides regular services to Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Dewsbury and Halifax.

 

Need to pop into town to do some shopping? A First Day bus ticket costs only £4 and allows you to travel on any First Leeds bus within the Leeds Metropolitan boundary (after 9.30am on weekdays and all day on weekends). Fancy a cheap afternoon excursion outside the city? Regular longer-distances buses to the nearby spa town of Harrogate cost as little as £3, while buses to York, Scarborough and Whitby are also affordable.

Sports and culture in Leeds

As the largest metropolitan area in Yorkshire, Leeds is the epicentre of the county’s contemporary culture and sports scene. 

 

It’s also the base for Yorkshire television, which is spread across the BBC and ITV, and for a number of regional newspapers, including the widely-read Yorkshire Post. Channel 4 is set to relocate its HQ to the city, showing just how prominent Leeds has become in the UK media sector.

 

As for sports, Leeds has an illustrious heritage across a number of fields. The city’s football team, Leeds United FC, is by far the biggest sports club in the city. Despite languishing in the second tier of English football, the club has won three league titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup, two Charity/Community Shields and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups throughout its history.

 

Other major sports clubs in the city include Leeds Rhinos (rugby league), Yorkshire Carnegie (rugby union) and Yorkshire County Cricket Club — all of whom have impressive trophy hauls.

 

Like sporting prowess, creativity has always found a home in Leeds. In 1767, soda water was invented there. Leeds was also the location of the world’s oldest-surviving motion picture: Roundhay Garden Scene, filmed way back in 1888 — in the same year, the iconic Leeds Art Gallery opened its doors.

 

This artistic inclination can be seen on a stroll through Leeds city centre, where a variety of statues, sculptures and murals adorn its walls. The murals including the UK’s tallest, Athena Rising are part of a city-wide project titled ‘A City Less Grey’.

 

If the rainy Pennines weather gets the better of you, there’s plenty more culture to soak up inside. The Royal Armouries is the UK’s national collection of weaponry and armour an ideal place to fire up the imagination of history students on a school trip, or even for a spot of research on a day off.

 

Meanwhile, the indoor Kirkgate Market is a veritable shopper’s paradise. With 800 stalls and 100,000 weekly visitors, Kirkgate is Europe’s largest covered market offering everything from antique jewellery to Asian street food. It’s also where Marks & Spencer began life as a bazaar back in the 1890s.


Throughout the summer, Leeds becomes awash with sound and colour. Leeds West Indian Carnival is held every August in the Chapeltown area, which has a sizeable Caribbean community. The carnival dates back to 1967, making it the longest-running West Indian carnival in Europe. 

 

There is also a range of open-air concerts and events in the heart of the city at Millennium Square’s Summer Series, as well as outdoor film screenings at the historic Kirkstall Abbey.

Leeds bars and restaurants

They say you can’t catch lightning in a bottle, but Leeds has certainly given it a go.

 

For beer and ale aficionados, Leeds is nirvana. The city can proudly claim to host one of the best craft beer scenes in the UK, with award-winning brewers such as North Brewing Co and Leeds Brewery producing some of the finest brews around.

 

Popular taprooms Headrow House, North Bar and Whitelock’s Ale House are also thirst-quenching mainstays of the Leeds bar boom. No matter if your tipple’s a golden best bitter or tropical IPA, Leeds has you covered.

 

Even brewing novices can get in on the act, as the Northern Monk Brew Co offer behind-the-scenes tours of their brewing process offering samples of fine ales in the refectory. And come September, the Leeds International Beer Festival rolls into town, celebrating craft beer from UK and international breweries.

 

If beer’s not your thing, there’s no need to miss out. With a host of street food stalls, independent cocktail bars, nightclubs and Michelin-guide restaurants, Leeds is your oyster.

 

At Matt Healy x The Foundry, “unconventionally British” cuisine is artistically crafted by a MasterChef: The Professionals runner-up in a way that’s hip but not pretentious. At Tharavadu, delicious south Indian Keralan cuisine finds itself a natural home in Leeds city centre. And at Great George Street’s Tavernaki, the authentic flavours of Greece and Cyprus can be enjoyed in a traditional setting for reasonable prices.

 

These gastro delights are just three examples of what Leeds’ culinary scene has to offer. In this foodie mecca, diners can sample just about every style of cooking for a range of prices. From the exclusive Crafthouse to the delectably downmarket Pizza Fella, all appetites and cravings can be satiated in Leeds.

Leeds dialect

Instead of waffling on, we’ll let the local lingo do the talking. Here’s a list of words and phrases you can expect to hear in Leeds from school corridors to supermarket aisles.

 

  • An’ all as well

  • Anyroad anyway

  • Aye yes

  • Bairn child

  • Bob into — to go into, e.g. “to bob into the pub”

  • Bonce head

  • Bray to beat up

  • Dinner lunch

  • Ey up keka hello, friend

  • Faffin’ wasting time

  • Fettle to fix, make or mend

  • Ginnel alleyway

  • Jammy lucky

  • Jiggered tired or broken

  • Laik or lark play

  • Mi sen myself

  • Nar no

  • Nowt nothing

  • Owt anything

  • Proper very

  • Reet good very good

  • Summat something

  • Ta thank you

  • Tarra goodbye

  • Tea dinner

  • Thy sen or Tha sen yourself

The Leeds lowdown

Leeds is a city that is going places. With 119,000 companies generating 5% of England’s total economic output, the Leeds City Region is an emerging global city. Meanwhile, arts and culture feature front and centre of municipal life. And with a range of education jobs available across a number of schools, departments and subjects, it’s clear that education in the city is thriving.

 

For teachers seeking a new challenge in a constantly evolving environment, it’s hard to look beyond the Capital of the North.

 

See yourself teaching in this West Yorkshire hotspot? Get in touch with one of our Leeds recruitment experts today.


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