Leeds is a vibrant city packed full of culture and history in West Yorkshire.  It’s a Mecca for Art, music, and theatregoers and has a wealth of museums to cater for all. Luckily, the cost of living in Leeds is much more affordable than London or other cultural centres of the UK.

cost of living in Leeds Picture of Corn exchange
The Corn Exchange in Leeds Has Been Transformed Into a Beautiful Shopping District

If you like shopping, you won’t be disappointed, and its restaurants provide for every cuisine. The best thing though is that everything is accessible on foot and the train station is never more than a 20-minute walk away.

Being almost halfway between London and Scotland, Leeds makes a great base to explore the UK. It has an airport with flights to much of Europe and  Ireland is only a short plane journey away.  Its direct train routes mean that you can be in London in just over 2 hours or Edinburgh in 3.  Manchester and Newcastle are also conveniently linked by Transpennine trains.

Cost of Apartments in Leeds

In recent years the city has seen a significant rise in apartment blocks, and there are now lots of properties to rent in the old mills around the river and canal. For a splendid view of the waterfront, a one bedroom or studio apartment will set you back £750 per month while a two bedroom flat is upwards of £850.00.

City Living in Leeds

Properties outside the city centre are cheaper. If you don’t mind living in the student area of town, you can rent a two bedroom house for £400 in Hyde Park or Burley. If you prefer a more upmarket area a one bedroom flat in Chapel Allerton or Gledhow is upwards of £550 per month.

Cost of bills per month in Leeds

Council tax, especially in the city centre is a big part of the cost of living in Leeds. Rates cost approximately £180 per month although there is a discount for single occupancies. City flats only have electricity as gas is not allowed in apartment blocks. Electricity costs vary depending upon how much you like the heating on, but you can expect to pay between £35-60.  The water rates are an additional cost of £22.

Virgin and BT are the two major companies that provide television and Internet across the city. Depending upon which package you opt for plans cost upwards of £35.00. If you subscribe to sports channels etc. it will, of course, be more.

Cost Mobile Phones Service in Leeds

There is a wealth of mobile networks to chose from and a local sim card that you could top up with 4GB data would cost around £12. The more data you have, the better the value for money you get.

Transport Costs in Leeds

To get from the airport to the city centre, you need to catch the bus operated by Tiger Line. It takes 30 minutes and costs £3.80.

As the city is so compact, it’s easy to walk everywhere. If you were staying in the suburbs and wanted to catch a black cab after a night out, i.e. after midnight a 5-mile journey would cost approximately £15.00.  Uber will be a cheaper option if you have the app.

If you have a car the cost of parking in Leeds is extortionate so make sure you rent somewhere that has a parking space.  You’ll often find that landlords let their parking spaces separately, so look for somewhere that includes one. If choosing to base yourself outside the City centre, there are park and ride schemes from £3 a day at Elland Road and Temple Green.

For saving on bus tickets its worth getting the mtickets app where a day pass will cost you £4.30 and weekly pass £15.50. These tickets include routes outside the city, so they give great value if you want to visit one of the many nearby attractions.

Shopping in Leeds

Whether you prefer a market, a stunning Victorian arcade or a vast shopping mall Leeds has them all, and they’re within walking distance.

Victorian Quarter

If you love marble interiors, mosaic floors and decadent wrought Iron features the beautiful shopping arcades in this part of the city are for you. There are three arcades, Thorntons, Grand and Central which house designer labelled shops.  The price tags may not be within everyone’s budget, but it’s worth, a visit to admire the stunning architecture.

Photo of Victoria Arcade for cost of living in leeds
Inside Victoria Arcade in Leeds

Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange is another magnificent building with an impressive domed roof and unique shops to explore. If you’re looking for something unusual, retro or a little quirky, the corn exchange is an excellent place to start. Shops sell all sorts from vintage cameras and clothes to contemporary jewellery.

Picture Inside the Corn Exchange in Leeds
Inside the Corn Exchange in Leeds

Shopping Malls

The two main shopping malls are Victoria gate and Trinity Gate. You’ll find all your high street brands here and large chain stores such as John Lewis.

Where to buy your weekly food shop in Leeds

For your weekly essentials, the best place is Kirkgate market. Its Europes largest indoor market and much of produce are locally sourced. There’s a great selection of meat and fish. You can also get your fruit and veg here, and there are speciality stalls for spices.  Magdalenka is excellent for anything polish, and Tian Tian has everything you need to serve up a delicious Chinese meal.

Supermarkets

There are numerous Tesco and Sainsbury’s outlets dotted around town which are convenient although expensive. Like many cities, the big supermarkets tend to based on the outskirts of town, but Morrisons in Merrion Centre is within easy walking distance. For Oriental ingredients, you can’t beat Taste of the Orient on Vicar Lane.

For a few added luxuries there’s a Marks and Spencers Food Mall at Central Square.

The cost of a weekly shop in Leeds will depend on the products you buy but as a guide you can easily feed two people for £40-50.

Eating out in Leeds

The city has a plethora of restaurants and takeaways with food outlets to cater for every cuisine and budget. Here are a few of the best.

Afternoon Tea

Yorkshire is famous for its tea, and there’s no shortage of places to enjoy this British delight.  The Grand vintage tearoom in Grand Arcade or Harvey Nichols makes an excellent choice but if you’re looking for something a bit more quirky head to Mrs Athas. Here the delightful food is served on vintage plates and the art on the wall will take you back in time.

Restaurants

You’ll find all the big names in the city and an abundance of independent restaurants. There’s even a great selection of street food available at Kirkgate market. A tasty takeaway here will set you back as little as £2.50 at Mr Mackerels stall.

Photo of Mr. Mackerels Restaurant for cost of living in Leeds piece
Mr. Mackerels Restaurant in Leeds

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Michael O’Hare’s one-starred Michelin restaurant, The Man Behind the curtain.  His food is artistic and often presented on canvas’s, not to mention it’s exquisite and delicious. It’s certainly worth a visit, his ten-course tasting menu will set you back £75, or you could opt for the six-course lunch at £55.

For an authentic Indian meal, I’d recommend Tharavadu which is near the railway station.

Other hot spots in town include the Water Lane Boathouse and Fazenda at Granary Wharf.

Clubs, Bars and Sunset Cocktails

Leeds has no shortage of pubs, and for real ale lovers, the Craft Beer Brewery Tour includes a visit to three local breweries. For a good selection of Ales in the city head to Brew Dog on Crown Street or Crowd of Favours on Harper Street.  A pint of regular beer costs between £3.20 and £4 but for a speciality beer expect to pay upwards of £5.

For those who prefer a cocktail, I suggest you head to Sky lounge (in the Hilton) at Granary Wharf for a stunning view of the city or the Brassiere 44 at Brewery Wharf to admire the river, Aire.

The best night clubs in town are Mission, Space or Pryzm all of which you can party till the early hours of the morning.  However, if you’re looking for something more unique try Smokestack for a taste of New Orleans or Jakes Bar to sample some Homemade liquor.

Things to do in Leeds

A large part of the cost of living in Leeds can be entertainmeant. Fortunately, Leeds has something for everyone, and there’s no shortage of free activities which helps offset the cost of living in Leeds.  The city has four significant theatres and an arena. It’s also one of the few cities outside of London that has an opera house and a ballet company.

Art Galleries – these are all free to visit.

For art enthusiasts, there are many galleries worth visiting.  One of the best is The Tetley, a former brewery that is now a centre for contemporary art. There’s also the Henry Moor Institute, an award-winning gallery for showcasing sculpture and The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery which displays and supports the growth of university students.  Street art is also becoming a feature of the city with Athena Rising created by Nomad Clan being the biggest mural in the UK. The impressive painting is 46m tall and 11m wide you’ll find it near the railway station.

Museums  – these are free to!

The Leeds city museum has a variety of collections worth exploring, and the Royal Armouries at Leeds dock is a must for battle enthusiasts.  You can catch the free water taxi to Leeds dock from Granary Wharf next to the train station.  The Royal Armouries have the most extensive collection of arms, armour and artillery in the country, including Henry VIII’s original attire.

Festivals – Tickets vary in price, but several have free events.

Leeds loves its festivals, and there are many throughout the year. If you’re into music, the Leeds Music festival is not to be missed.  It’s held over the August bank holiday weekend and is one of the largest in the country.  There are numerous stages arrected across Bramham Park, and well-known artists from across the world are always in the lineup.

Other festivals of interest have to include:

  • April – May    Leeds International festival where innovators, global thinkers and pioneers discuss the world of today and our future.
  • Early May    Live at Leeds celebrates new emerging artists.
  • Mid June – Waterfront Festival brings fun for all the family at Leeds Dock
  • Mid-July – Jazz Leeds Festival features renowned artists from around the world.
  • Early August – Millennium Square Summer Series – all sorts of live music concerts from classical through to rock take place regularly throughout the month.
  • Early August – Leeds Pride There’s always a grand parade of floats, a carnival atmosphere and free entertainment in Millennium Square
  • Early September – International Beer Festival – Do I need to say anymore?
  • Mid-September – Thought Bubble -this is the largest UK event celebrating comics and graphic novels in numerous forms.
  • Early October – Last Night an event which turns the whole city into an art installation with light shows, projections, music and dance throughout the city and much more.
  • October or November  – International Film Festival with films across numerous categories shown throughout the city.

See also:

Places to See Outside of Leeds

Harewood House

Harewood House is one of Britains fabulous historical houses open between late March and early November.  Built in the 18th century, it has an exquisite interior and remarkable collection of Renaissance art and portraits.  To get there catch the No 36 bus from the city centre. The admission fee is £13.50 if you book online in advance or £15 on the day.

Kirkstall Abbey

Open Tuesday to Sunday all year round this great monastery is free to visit. Buses 33, 33a and 757 go from the city regularly.

Lotherton Hall

Louthern Hall is another historic house that has a fabulous garden. It’s open all year round although the tours of the house are limited in winter. However, the grounds have lots of walks and trails.  There’s also a deer park a bird garden and beautiful Edwardian gardens to explore. Bus numbers 64 and 64A go to Aberford from Leeds City Centre and then there’s a 20-30 minute walk to reach the Hall. If you book online its £7.50 and there are various concessions for families.

Temple Newsam House and Farm

Temple Newsam House is a stunning Tudor Mansion set within 1500 acres of magnificent parkland gardens. Its a working rare breeds farm which is open all year round. Entry to the house and farm is £10 for Adults and £25 for a family (up to 3 children). There are regular events throughout the year including workshops and plenty of animals for everyone to enjoy. To get there catch the 19 or 19a bus from the city to Whitkirk. It’s then about a 25minute walk to the house.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is located 20 miles from Leeds near Wakefield. There are usually around 80 sculptures on display, and the park is free to visitors. Its a beautiful walk with some stunning vistas of the area to admire as well as the fantastic sculptures displayed on the route. You can get here on public transport, but it does involve several bus changes. Ask at the city centre bus station for the latest times and connections.

Salt Mill

This old mill is free to visit and houses a great collection of works by David Hockney.  You can also learn about the history of the mill, and there are some fabulous independent retail shops to explore inside.  The cafe is well worth a visit, and it has one of the best book shops for Art’s and Crafts that I’ve ever come across. To get there catch the train from Leeds to Shipley; the mill is then about an 8-minute walk from the train station.

Why Live in Leeds?

Leeds is one of my favourite cities in the UK and although I’m a Lancashire lass I do own a flat there.   I love the fact that it’s so compact you can walk everywhere, and although London is hard to beat for art and culture, I think Leeds comes a very close second. It doesn’t hurt that the cost of living in Leeds is more affordable

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About the Author

Fiona is an international music examiner whose work takes her all over the world. Her new travel blog Passport and Piano is growing fast and provides inspiration, travel tips and resources to inspire people to visit unique destinations which are away from the ordinary. You can follow her adventures on Facebook and Pinterest.

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