The best UK areas for graduates

It can be a sad day when student life comes to an end. You’ll need to start thinking about where your graduate life will begin as soon as you can, but where do you start?

With so many areas for graduates to start building a home across the UK, it can be difficult to determine which one is the best for you and your needs. After all, there’s a lot to consider. Which city is the cheapest for rent, monthly transport, and a pint? Which presents the best job opportunities to kickstart your career? We’ve taken the above factors, plus some others, so you can discover which city is best.

Revealed: Bradford is the best place to live for graduates

The results are in, and Bradford is officially the best place for graduates to live. With the highest number of job opportunities out of all the top 10 cities, as well as low rent prices, Bradford has a great balance between great opportunities and low expenses. 

Let’s face it, after finishing university and entering the world of work, cheap rent is the number one thing you’re looking for from your new living space. Renting a one-bed apartment outside the city of Bradford costs as little as £384.38, compared to the likes of nearby areas like Leeds (£528.85) and Wakefield (£437.58), not to mention, buying a home becomes an achievable goal here. So, if you’re looking to invest in a property long-term, Bradford lets you do exactly that – without having to scramble around for savings.

With pints costing just £3.00, your weekend budget won’t be too heavy, either. Of course, it’s not just the price of beer that might appeal to graduates but the remarkable rates for basic utilities, including electricity, heating and water, which come in at just £121.43. Gym costs are some of the lowest in the UK, too, which is excellent if you’re new to the area. The opportunities are endless!

Other graduate favourites

Bradford may take the top spot, but there are some close contenders if you’re considering other areas to call home. Our results gave the following locations the nod, presenting them as the top 10 places to live:

But what’s so great about each?  

For cheap transport… 

When you move, you need to settle down somewhere with easy yet affordable transport options. You might be commuting to work every day or hoping to live away from the hustle and bustle of city centre living. But this means you’ll be spending cash to take you wherever you need to go. And out of the top 10 areas for graduates, Preston is the cheapest per month, with Dundee being a close contender.

For making friends…

Naturally, you’ll want to buddy up with new people when you move. Coming in eighth place, Birmingham is the perfect choice if you’re interested in making new friends. As many as 255,652 18–30-year-olds live in this charming city, which aside from London, is the area with the highest population in the UK.  

For job opportunities…

Once you’ve graduated, the first thing you need to do is find a job, which means finding an area that is bursting with new opportunities. After Birmingham, Bradford comes in second place for having the highest job listings. So, think of these two places beginning with “B” when you start your house search…

The bottom areas revealed

As well as finding the top areas for graduates to live in, we managed to find some that sit at the bottom. You might be surprised to hear it, but because of the higher cost of living, Cambridge, Winchester, Brighton, Bath and Westminster were ranked the top five bottom places to live in the UK.  

Despite their great reputation for spa days and beach trips, these locations just don’t cut the list for being the top UK areas which are affordable for graduates to live. Why? Well, because if you’re struggling to pay for the rent month-to-month, it takes all the fun out of living there.

Most of these locations do bring a higher working salary, but the cost of monthly transport and rent exceeded other areas, like Bradford, Preston, and Carlisle. And since you’ll just be finding your feet, your number one priority after leaving university will be keeping the price of your outgoings at a minimum – and rightly so.

Moving to a new area: A checklist

When you make the move to a new location, you’ll need to make some essential checks beforehand. So, what do you need to complete before loading up the removal van?

1. Check the crime rates in the area you’re moving to 

If you’re relocating, you’re likely unaware of the area, so it’s worth checking the crime rates ahead of time. After all, you don’t want to be moving somewhere with a high number of burglaries. Not only would this put you on edge as you unlock the door after work, but your home insurance could be a lot higher since there’s an increased risk of your valuables being pinched.

2. Invest time and money to keep your valuables safe  

You can easily hide the likes of laptops, tablets, and expensive jewellery in a hidden safe, but the same can’t be said for TVs or a pricy shoe collection. 

When you’re at work or on holiday, your house is unoccupied. So, you need to take steps to prevent passers-by from noticing your absence. Keep the blinds open and invest in a timer to close them when it gets dark. If people can’t see it, they can’t steal it. And of course, spend your money on a good safe with an entry code instead of a key. 

3. Update or purchase home insurance  

When you move to your new humble abode, one of the first things you need to do is protect everything in it - by insuring it. If you already have home insurance from a previous property, update the details immediately for your new one. If you don’t currently have home insurance at all, purchase a policy to ensure your game console and wireless earbuds are safe and sound at all times.

Pack up your belongings…

Now you know the top and bottom places to live, it’s time to search for a new pad and start preparing for the move. And no matter what location you decide to live in, remember to insure your prized possessions as soon as possible.
 
Brought to you by the home insurance experts at comparethemarket.com. 

If you’d like to find out about top tips to protect your property, you can find more here

Methodology

To determine the best and most expensive cities for graduates, each of the 14 ranking factors were weighted between 0.00 – 2.00 against all cities in the UK, with the higher score assigned to factors with greater importance. Average salary and job opportunities were deemed the most important, followed by rent and property cost, monthly transport and basic utilities, the population of 18-30-year-olds, gym fees and an inexpensive meal, and then the cost of a beer and cappuccino. The total score was then converted into a percentage of overall graduate satisfaction, with the higher the percentage being the best city.

Sources

  • The average cost of a beer, cappuccino, inexpensive meal, monthly transport, basic utilities (including electricity, heating, and water), gym membership, rent for a one-bedroom apartment both inside and outside of the city centre, and salary were taken from NUMBEO 

  • Job opportunities were taken from Indeed and Totaljobs  

  • Population figures were taken from ONS