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Leeds City Guide

All you need to know about Leeds City


Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of West Yorkshire and is one of the UK’s foremost regional cities. It is located approximately 70km (43.5 miles) north east of Manchester, 59km (36.8 miles) north of Sheffield and 316km (196 miles) north of London. Leeds achieved city status in 1893 and in 2020 was the fourth-largest urban area in the UK after London, Manchester and Birmingham in terms of population (Demographia). The city is well positioned in terms of transport links with good road and rail connections.


Leeds is well served by motorways, being situated at the interchange of the M621 at junctions 1-6, the M1 at junction 43-45 and the M62 Trans Pennine route. It is also served by the regional road network where the primary routes of the A61, A660 and A64 radiate from the centre. The A660 also provides a route to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Leeds Railway Station is the third busiest in the UK outside of London, serving close to 30 million passengers a year from 17 platforms (Network Rail). The planned construction of HS2, a high speed rail connection to London, is expected to complete in 2035-40 and will reduce travel time from Leeds to under 90 minutes and to Birmingham to 45 minutes. The £500m redevelopment of the new station campus and pedestrianisation of New Station Street directly fronting the station was completed in 2019, transforming and modernising this major northern travel hub.

Leeds Bradford Airport is situated approximately 13km (8 miles) north west of the city centre, providing both national and international flights. Plans to replace the current terminal with a new, state-of-the-art building were submitted to the Council at the start of 2020. If approved, this would make the airport one of the UK’s most environmentally efficient airport buildings and net-zero by 2023 (LBA).


Leeds is an established University City and now home to five Universities:

  • The University of Leeds
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Leeds Trinity University
  • Leeds Arts University
  • Leeds Conservatoire


The main retailing area of Leeds includes the recently completed Victoria Gate development, anchored by a flagship John Lewis, the indoor shopping centre Leeds Trinity and the historic Corn Exchange occupied by smaller independent shops. Leeds has quite a compact city centre which means that most amenities are within easy walking distance of each other.

Going out:

The city has an amazing student nightlife, and this is one of the biggest draws for students desiring a well-rounded university experience. Greek Street, the Northern and Arena Quarters and Merrion Street are popular areas for bars and restaurants.

Popular student bars

  • Dry Dock
  • Mook
  • The Hyde Park Pub
  • The Sky Rack
  • Woodies Craft Ale House
  • the Brudenell Social Club
  • Tiger Tiger
  • The Alchemist
  • North Bar

Music Venues

  • Leeds Arena
  • O2 Academy Leeds
  • The Temple of Boom


As a popular city for tourists exploring the north of England and business visitors, Leeds also has a range of hotels, hostels, serviced and long stay apartments. Despite 2020s pandemic largely stalling all forms of tourism, Deloitte’s Leeds Crane Survey 2021 reported that construction started on the new Citispace Hotel on Regent Street, which will provide 54 hotel beds when completed. With life showing signs of returning to normal in the second half of 2021, tourists can find luxury accommodation in the city centre at hotels such as Dakota, Malmaison and the Marriott. Alternatively, serviced and long stay apartments are also plentiful, with Roomzzz, Quebecs and The Chambers aparthotels at various locations across Leeds offering accommodation for longer stays. Roomzzz has three locations in the city and is a hybrid aparthotel, long stay accommodation and regular hotel (the latter at its Swinegate location) for overnight accommodation in spacious flats and studios.


Leeds United, Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Cricket Club are just a few of the sports teams that attract fans to the city, with Leeds United’s 2020 promotion to the Premier League providing the city with world-wide recognition. Leeds Beckett University is highly regarded for its sports facilities, coaching and teams, and range of sporting scholarships. More than 7,000 of its students take part in some form of sporting activity, with their Athletic Union hosting some 38 clubs and over 80 teams.

Economy and employment:

Leeds has one of the most diverse economies in the UK, with the highest private to public sector job ratio out of all the UK’s core cities. It is amongst the top five cities for job creation (Insider), offering a ratio of 1.02 jobs to a population aged 16-64, compared with a regional 0.81 average and a UK average of 0.87 (NOMIS). Leeds is the principle driver of a region with a £64.6 billion economy and a workforce of 1.37 million. Financial and business services account for 38% of the city’s total output, with other key sectors including retail, leisure and the visitor economy, construction, manufacturing and the creative and digital industries ( Significant employers based in the city (those employing more than 1,000) include ASDA, First Direct, BT, Direct Line and Yorkshire Bank. Leeds also hosts the only subsidiary office of the Bank of England.

Employment (NOMIS, Oct 2019-Sept 2020)
Leeds Yorkshire & The Humber Great Britain
80.4% 74.6% 75.7%


Latest gross average earnings (by place of residence) for Leeds equate to £29,977 per year. This compares with £28,178 in Yorkshire and The Humber (-6.0%), and £30,613 across the rest of Great Britain (+2.12%).

Gross weekly pay (NOMIS, 2020)
Leeds Yorkshire & The Humber Great Britain
Earnings by place of residence
£574.90 £540.40 £587.10
Earnings by place of work
£573.00 £538.90 £586.70


Average property prices in Leeds witnessed a 29.9% increase between December 2015 and December 2020; this is a significant rise, and actually above growth for all property types seen across England and Wales as a whole for the same period (23.0%). However, property in Leeds is still generally on average 20% cheaper than in the rest of England and Wales; it therefore offers excellent prospects for re-locations and much greater affordability that London and the south-east.

There is strong demand for detached properties, which has led to the largest increase in property prices for this house type at 32.6% growth between December 2015 and 2020. Flats have seen the smallest amount of growth in this period, although at a still healthy rate of 24.3%.

UK House Price Index (LEEDS)
Date Detached Semi-detached Terraced Flat All property types % change all types
Dec 2010 £251,673 £147,006 £114,969 £104,018 £140,645 N/A
Dec 2015 £290,275 £170,309 £132,370 £115,461 £161,551 14.9%
Dec 2020 £384,770 £224,191 £171,844 £143,552 £209,892 29.9%

UK House Price Index (ENGLAND)
Date All property types % change
Dec-10 £173,417 N/A
Dec-15 £215,023 24.0%
Dec-20 £264,446 23.0%


Leeds now benefits from five higher education providers, with a total full-time student population (postgraduate and undergraduate) of 60,560 during the 2019/20 academic year. The city has one of the largest student populations in Britain. The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 showed that The University of Leeds received 7.5 applications per place, Leeds Beckett 4, Leeds Trinity 5.9 and Leeds Arts 6.1. In fact, The University of Leeds was in the top three for volume of applications received in 2017, and in 2018 only Manchester attracted more applicants. The university also has a high international student proportion, with 23.5% coming from abroad in 2019/20.

Across the country, the number of applications for nursing degrees for the 2021/22 academic year increased by almost a third (LeedsLive). Leeds University is one of the foremost institutions for medical education, with students learning through Leeds General Infirmary, one of the country's leading teaching hospitals, and St James's University Hospital, a major centre for teaching and research (The Leeds Teaching Hospitals). The School of Dentistry is also one of the UK's prominent centres for study, with a worldwide reputation (University of Leeds).

Full-time undergraduate students 2019/20 (HESA)
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
The University of Leeds 23,890 25,045 25,810 25,570
Leeds Beckett University 16,920 16,185 15,770 15,895
Leeds Trinity University 2,825 2,700 2,665 4,175
Leeds Arts University 1,390 1,570 1,800 2,075
Leeds Conservatoire N/A N/A 1,150 1,255
Totals 45,025 45,500 47,195 48,970
Percentage change on previous year N/A +1.1% +3.7% +3.8%

Percentage international students (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021)
The University of Leeds 23.5%
Leeds Beckett University 5.9%
Leeds Trinity University 1.4%
Leeds Arts University 7.9%

Where students live: most first year students opt to start in university owned or purpose built blocks, where they can make the most of meeting other new students and making groups of friends. The trend tends then to find groups of four to ten students grouping together for their second year and rent a shared house or HMO (house in multiple occupation) for their second year. This is more like living at home as houses can come with gardens, parking and are usually more spacious and less institutional than living in a hall. In their final year – when students really have to stop partying put their head down and work – many choose studio flats, smaller groupings or to go back into halls.

Postgraduates are more likely to have self-contained one bed flats and studios in the city and these could be rented in the private market or form part of the offering in some purpose built student blocks.

There are pros and cons of shared house living compared to halls of residence. Pretty much all students experience both during their three or four years at university.

Purpose-built student accommodation:

The University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett and Leeds Trinity all guarantee university-owned student accommodation for first years, with Leeds Arts University and Leeds Conservatoire only being able to give priority. Student accommodation housing ranges from older style student halls to high-end luxury student accommodation, offering a range of options including en-suite rooms, one bed flats and even larger apartments suitable for couples. Blocks owned by Leeds University include Devonshire Hall, Henry Price, Charles Morris, Lupton, Oxley and North Hill Court. Private providers include Iconinc,Unite, Vita, iQ, CLV amongst many.

Purpose built student accommodation supply
Current supply 19,625
Full time students 48,970
Under supply 29,345

Purpose-built student accommodation costs per week (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021)
Self-catered Catered
The University of Leeds £91 - £159 £91 - £210
Leeds Beckett University £96 - £200 N/A
Leeds Trinity University £96 - £129 £123 - £139
Leeds Arts University £127 - £145 N/A
Leeds Conservatoire £139 - £205 N/A
Private accommodation £93 - £449 N/A

Shared house and flat market:

For those students who choose to live in a more traditional house share, popular areas for student housing in Leeds are Headingley, Hyde Park and Burley. Some of the prime roads for student accommodation near Leeds University include Hyde Park Road, Royal Park Road, Brudenell Road, Victoria Road and Cardigan Road. The majority of these private lets comprise spacious Victorian terraced houses having either been modernised to suit shared living or converted into separate self-contained one, two and three bed student flats, as well as student studios for single living. Burley Road has a large number of both purpose built student halls and shared student housing.

The University of Leeds:

Leeds is one of the most popular universities in the UK, placing 13th overall in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. The University moved into the Guide’s top ten universities in 2019, only falling by one place to 11th in the 2020 edition. It is also among employers’ favourite for recruitment, as found in the 2019 High Fliers graduate marketing survey, and the institution’s LeedsforLife service supports students in finding work and volunteering placements for up to five years beyond graduation. More than 80% of Leeds’ research was assessed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework as world-leading, and the institution is also in the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings.

Leeds Trinity University:

Leeds Trinity is the only university in the UK to include at least two professional work placements as part of every student’s degree, which offers a total of 11 weeks professional experience. This perhaps contributes to the 60% of students who continue with placement providers for the remainder of their degree, and the 11% who find graduate jobs with the same employer. It is this focus on professional placements that has gone towards the university achieving a silver TEF rating. The university also surpasses its national benchmarks for widening participation, with one of the highest proportions of undergraduate students coming from disadvantaged areas in the UK.

Leeds Beckett University:

Despite being awarded a silver TEF rating, largely due to the opportunity students have to increase their employability through engagement with live projects, case studies, practice related assessments and placements, Leeds Beckett University continues to rank in the bottom 10 of The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021’s list. However, as well as setting itself targets for improvement, including halving the institution’s dropout rate, it also aims to raise student satisfaction with the standard of teaching to 9/10.

Leeds Arts University:

Formerly known as Leeds College of Art, the institution gained university status in 2017 to become the city’s fourth university. In its debut in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 it placed on the threshold of the top 50 and this year places 56th. The university added to its original Blenheim Walk site adjacent to The University of Leeds’ main library by constructing a £22m building to provide more teaching space and improved facilities. Special features of this new development include a 230-seat auditorium, and music, film and photography studios. The university is proud to have become the only specialist arts university in the north of England, and currently holds a silver TEF rating.

Leeds Conservatoire:

Formerly Leeds College of Music, the institute became Leeds Conservatoire in 2020. It is a specialist music and performing arts university offering students opportunities to work with professionals in industry settings and perform at high profile events via partnerships that include Opera North, Backstage Academy, Leeds Playhouse and Leeds Festival. In 1993 as Leeds College of Music it launched the first Jazz degree in Europe, and now the Conservatoire offers courses in performing arts, musical theatre and acting.