Now we may be biased, but as far as we’re concerned, moving to Leeds is a no-brainer. Choosing where to live, however, that’s a different kettle of fish…
Listing the best (or indeed the worst) places to live in Leeds is like herding cats. Everyone has a different opinion. So we’ve kept it simple, by rounding up the most popular parts of the city, along with the unsung heroes and the ones to watch. We haven’t done it alone either, Lauren Kyle, Branch Manager of local estate agent Linley & Simpson, lent us her expertise.
These are the most popular areas of the city. They’re probably the first ones you’ll come across when you start looking, but they do tend to sit quite high in the price bracket too.
Right up there at the top of the list, Horsforth has become a hub for young independents looking to move out of the city centre and settle down in a well connected suburb. The train station is a major attraction here, it makes getting to Leeds, Harrogate and York easy peasy, but it’s not the only reason people choose to live here.
Horsforth is a thriving suburb, with a great nightlife and all the shops and amenities you need. “It’s got great schools,” Kyle told us. “So it’s very popular with families. And there’s a real mix of parks, bars, restaurants and shops.”
It’s easy to see why Chapel Allerton is one of the most popular places to live in Leeds. It’s a bustling suburb with a lively centre that has something to offer day and night, with a slew of independent cafes, delis and shops alongside a raft of popular bars and restaurants. You’ve got Sukhothai, Aagrah, El Bareto and Boss Burgers, as well as Kith & Kin, Further North and The Mustard Pot.
“The east side of Chapel Allerton is very popular with Victoria Street, North Brook Street and The Pastures all in very high demand. It’s on the quiet side of town in terms of traffic, but it’s just a 5 minute walk into the centre,” Kyle explained. It’s also got a huge range of houses, with something for just about everyone, whether you’re single, moving as a couple or need space for the whole family.
The main attraction here, as you can imagine, is the park – a wealth of open space, right on your doorstep. “Professionals, singles and couples love to be around and overlooking Roundhay Park,” Kyle told us. “Old Park Road has some fantastic converted properties, matching the size and character that’s fitting with the older buildings but offering modern fixtures and fittings.”
You’re not short of amenities either. It’s got a host of independent shops and delis, like the lovely Haley & Clifford, as well as cosy pubs, modern bars and tasty restaurants. It’s not quite as lively as Chapel Allerton and Horsforth, but you can easily forgo town for your home suburb.
The city centre in general is one of the most popular places to live in Leeds and with good reason. Everything’s right there – you can go to the shops, hit the bars, grab a bite to eat and walk to work, all in a matter of minutes, with transport links to just about everywhere.
But one area of the city centre in particular has proved to be immensely popular – the waterfront. This highly coveted strip of the city centre offers scenic views over the River Aire.
“Buildings with character are the most popular, so Dye Works, Roberts Wharf, the Engine House. They’re all quirky, different, unique; they’ve got exposed brickwork, beams,” Kyle told us. “On the flip side of that, I suppose it depends what people are after, but Leeds Dock is a very popular area. It rents all day every day.”
It’s the student heartland, a thriving suburb that’s as popular now as it ever was, and while it’s definitely more popular with the city’s youngsters, it actually has a lot to offer everyone. The town centre is rammed full of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, with everything from old school boozers to Italian, Greek and Thai eateries.
Location is important here. It’s close enough to the city to centre to make commuting relatively pain free, with a choice of two train stations, with Headingley on one side and Burley Park on the other – both go into Leeds or out to Harrogate and York. And if you don’t want to travel, well, you’ve got everything you need right here.
One of the more prosperous areas of Leeds, Alwoodley is incredibly popular, but not particularly cheap. “It’s got great schools, access to the outer ring road and some of the largest and most expensive houses in the city, which makes it the place to be for more affluent tenants,” Kyle told us.
You’ll find some absolutely beautiful houses here, with big Tudor affairs promising heaps of character, alongside beautifully constructed contemporary architecture. The Leeds suburbs is also home to a few local treasures that help to make it one of the best places to live in Leeds, including two golf courses and the beautiful Eccup Reservoir.
They aren’t as popular or as talked about as their oh-so lovely neighbours, but these areas of Leeds will certainly give them a run for their money – they are, after all, significantly cheaper.
Nestled between Roundhay and Harehills, Oakwood takes elements of both suburbs, and that means it has something of a chequered reputation. But actually, there are some really lovely places to live in Oakwood, that are basically just like Roundhay, but a hell of a lot cheaper – and of course, you’re still really close to Roundhay Park, with a selection of bars and restaurants to choose from, like North Bar’s Preston.
“It’s a much more affordable area. Three bedroom properties can be rented for roughly 25% less for a similar property in Roundhay,” Kyle explained. “It still has a fantastic selection of high end, family houses, as well as more affordable one and two bedroom flats close close to the iconic Oakwood Clock, which has just been restored.”
The Northern Quarter
It’s already home to a host of highly coveted apartment buildings, including the likes of Crispin Lofts and Merchants House, but the Northern Quarter is still overshadowed by its more central neighbours, especially those that are also nestled next to the river. That’s all set to change with the opening of Victoria Gate.
“There are quite a few things planned for that end of town,” Kyle told us. “At the moment it’s harder for us to get people to that area. It’s not far, but people kind of have this perception of it being too far. But what we’re seeing with Trinity and the regeneration of the market area and Victoria Gate, the city is expanding so nothing is going to be deemed far away anymore.”
Rodley & Calverley
Two neighbouring suburbs that share many of the same traits, Rodley and Calverley are a way out of the city centre, but they’re really close to Horsforth, so you’ll still have a wealth of shops, cafes and bars nearby.
“You can get a bit more peace and tranquillity, but you’re still very close to Horsforth,” Kyle told us. “Rodley is right on the canal, so it’s very popular with walkers and cyclers, while Calverley has a few good pubs with excellent menus.” Both suburbs have the feel of villages, without taking you too far from civilisation, so in many ways, it’s the best of both worlds.
Although it’s often overshadowed by Chapel Allerton, Meanwood is quickly becoming one of the go-to places to live in Leeds. According to Kyle, it’s the Waitrose effect. “Meanwood has definitely benefited from the Waitrose effect,” She told us. “There’s a real buzz around town right now. The Woodlea area is very popular, given the variety of accommodation on offer and the short walking distance to the local David Lloyd Sport Centre. It’s also a stone’s throw away from two highly rated schools – Cardinal Heenan and St Urban’s Primary School.”
Meanwood is nestled on the edge of the outer ring road, which means you’ve got great connections, and it’s also home to some cracking little independents, with beer haven Alfred Bar, new pizzeria Burt & Nelly’s and popular pre-loved furniture store Blackbird Vintage all calling the suburb home.
Ones to watch
They may not be the best places to live right now, some might even say they’re the worst, but we believe these areas have a lot to offer, and they may well be the go-to places of the future. Watch this space.
The regeneration of the South Bank is moving apace, with a slew of new residential developments available now and even more coming in the future. All of them put you within easy reach of the city centre, and the new southern entrance to the train station has made commuting out of the city even easier.
“I think now with the South Entrance and Granary Wharf and the plans that they’ve got for the Tower Works site, that whole pocket of Leeds is going to become really popular,” Kyle told us. Of course, Holbeck is much bigger than the South Bank stretch most of us see, and it’s hoped that the regeneration will flow outwards, turning the suburb into a well placed destination where people want to live and work, but for now, it has a few issues to go along with its potential.
Kirkstall already has a lot going for it. It’s close to the city centre, but still has a suburban feel, with a mix of traditional pubs, local shops and sports facilities, including a dedicated pilates centre. It also has a brand new retail park, as Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park opened at the back end of 2015 with an M&S Food Hall, Lloyds Pharmacy, Pure Gym and Costa Coffee, among others.
But what’s really exciting is the prospect of the Kirkstall Forge Train Station, which will make travelling into Leeds and out to Shipley even easier. It’s hoped that the new station will help to alleviate some of the traffic problems on Kirkstall Road, while the development that surrounds it offers up 300,000 square foot of office space, creating approximately 2,400 jobs in the area – and that in itself is likely to make this one of the more popular places to live in Leeds.
There’s no doubt that Armley has its issues, in fact, it has the kind of reputation that makes people think it’s one of the worst places to live in Leeds. However, there’s a real sense of community there, as local residents and businesses have come together to help make the Leeds suburb a better place to live and work. Right now the focus is on bringing the high street back to its best, but they’ll also be looking at ways to attract new investment and new developments to the area.
If it works, we could have more residential developments like Flaunt, which sits right on the edge of Armley, minutes from the city centre, and has already proved to be extremely popular. “It’s a brand new Strata Homes development of town houses.” Kyle told us, “We’ve had such a huge success with them already, they only started to complete at the back end of last year, but they’re exactly what the city needs.”
Think your suburb deserves a place on this list? Tell us why in the comments, we’re always open to suggestions…
Armley Image copyright Sonia Pounder. Headingley, Horsforth, Kirkstall, Meanwood & Rodley images copyright Tim Green licensed under creative commons for commercial use. Image of Eccup Reservoir is copyright Yarik.OK and licensed under creative commons for commercal use. Oakwood image copyright Mtaylor848 licensed under creative commons for commercial use.