Leeds has a reputation for being a fantastic student city - five universities, a thriving nightlife, great job prospects and cheap Northern prices make it an appealing option to the thousands of students who flock there each year.
Although Leeds has a huge population, geographically it's a smaller city than the likes of Manchester and Liverpool - in fact, it's known for being 'the biggest small city you'll ever visit'.
This means it's easy to get to grips with Leeds if you're moving away from home for the first time.
As you'd imagine with it being a northern city, Leeds has pretty cheap living costs - at least compared to London anyway.
In a recent National Student Money Survey they found out what an average student in Leeds pays for everything from rent and bills, to socialising and transport.
At £433 a month, rent in Leeds comes in at slightly higher than the national student average - but bear in mind this can vary massively depending on whether you're living in halls or private housing.
Halls of residence
All of the universities in Leeds have halls of residence available for students, which is typically where you will stay for at least your first year of study.You'll find halls scattered all over the city - those in the centre or on campus tend to be more expensive than those further out. Common areas for halls include Burley, Headingley and Woodhouse. Deciding which halls to go for can be a stressful experience, but there's no right or wrong answer - it's all down to personal preference. And remember, worst comes to worst, it's only for a year!
Like many UK cities, there are plenty of private halls of residence popping up in Leeds. If you don't manage to get a place in halls through your university, or don't want to move into private housing, you can opt for these instead. However, they tend to be much more expensive compared to renting in a house, so make sure you budget for it! One of the main private halls is the the towering Sky Plaza, the tallest building in Leeds - but prices do start at a whopping £183 a week for an en suite room.
There's two main areas of student housing in Leeds - Hyde Park and Headingley.Hyde Park is closest to the city centre (around a 20 minute walk), and is particularly close to the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University (city campus).You'll find some good pubs there (as well as the famous Brudenell Social Club) and a couple of Sainsbury's Locals and takeaways.
However, it is student central, so be prepared for house parties and pre-drinks at the weekends.Headingley tends to be a little bit quieter than Hyde Park but it's further out from the city centre - around a 40-45 minute walk, or 20 minutes by bus. Here you're close to Headingley town centre, with it's independent shops and restaurants, Headingley Stadium, a big Sainsbury's and half the pubs on the Otley Run.
Burley Park is another popular area, situated vaguely in between Headingley and Hyde Park, although it's not as well connected by bus as Headingley is.If you're looking for a letting agents, and don't fancy getting ripped off, go through Unipol, as all the landlords and letting agents they work with must abide by the Unipol code of conduct designed to protect your rights as a tenant.
Leeds is a pretty compact city and many areas are within walking distance of each other, or just a short bus/train ride away.
It's likely that if you do need to use public transport while living in Leeds, you'll mostly use the bus - most of which are run by First Bus. Day tickets cost around £4.30, but they offer Unlimited Student Travel tickets. These are definitely worth the investment if you're going to be using the bus every day.
You can pay £45 for unlimited monthly travel, £299 for the academic year or £145 for one term. However, it's worth waiting until you've arrived in Leeds and sussed the situation out for yourself before investing in an unlimited ticket, as it won't save you much money unless you're going to be using the bus a lot.
You can also catch the train from Leeds' main station up to Burley Park or Headingley (two popular areas for student housing) - don't forget to use your 16-25 Railcard for discounted tickets.
If you're travelling at night there's of course Uber, but the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University have an arrangement with private hire taxi company Amber Cars. This means that if you're ever caught without cash or card, you can give the taxi driver your student card as a deposit instead. All you have to do is head to the SU the following day to pick up your card and pay your fare!
Make sure to check with your individual university about any other transport services they offer students. For example, The University of Leeds offers a £1 nightbus service that runs approximately every 30 minutes from 6.30pm-1am during term time, and will take students from the SU to their front door.
According to the latest Student Money Survey, the majority of students turn to a part-time job for money at some point during their degree. If you think that will be you, then it's unlikely you'll be stuck for work somewhere like Leeds.
In fact, research has shown that part-time jobs in Leeds are the most well-paid in the UK!
Don't forget to consider jobs at your university or students' union as well, as these will fit around your studies well.
Leeds has the UK's fastest-growing economy and it's population has increased by over 150% in a decade. Its £64.6 billion economy is one of the biggest in the UK outside London and is predicted to grow by 21% over the next 10 years.
Here's some key facts about employment prospects and the job market in Leeds:
- Financial and business services are the city's biggest economic areas, employing around 343,000 people
- Retail, leisure, construction, manufacturing and the creative and digital industries are also growing rapidly
- It's the third largest manufacturing centre in the country, with over 26,000 people employed in the sector
- Asda Group, First Direct, Centrica, Ventura, BT, Direct Line Group and Yorkshire Bank are some of the city's biggest employers
- There are over 3,500 digital and tech businesses in Leeds
- HMRC is due to move 6,000 jobs to Leeds in 2020
- Small and medium-sized enterprises account for half of the city's employment
- The University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett both have programmes and funding available to help students establish their own startup businesses.
In a nutshell, when you're looking for a graduate job, Leeds is a pretty good place to be.
Leeds is an amazingly vibrant city - there's plenty to see and do, lots of events and festivals to attend and being situated in the heart of Yorkshire, you're only a short bus ride away from some of the most stunning scenery in the UK. Here's a quick rundown of what to expect...