Graduating soon? Here are the top spots to live in 2022

Graduating from university can be daunting, with student life coming to an end. However, it’s super exciting too – you’ll get to start your career, and potentially move to an entirely new city.

There are so many things to consider when choosing where to move to, that it can be hard knowing where to begin. Rental prices, amenities, job opportunities and public transport are all important factors when finding your next home.

We’ve taken all of these factors – and more – into consideration, to help you determine where’s the best place to move to once you’ve graduated.

Bradford is the top spot for graduates

Rank

City

Graduate Satisfaction Score

1

Bradford

64.1%

2

Preston

61.1%

3

Kingston-Upon-Hull

59.8%

4

Dundee

59.5%

5

Carlisle

57.5%

6

Nottingham

55.2%

7

Peterborough

54.9%

8

Sheffield

54.8%

9

Birmingham

54.7%

10

Belfast

54.1%

11

Leicester

53.8%

12

Worcester

53.6%

13

Norwich

53.4%

13

Sunderland

53.4%

14

Coventry

53.1%

15

Southampton

52.9%

16

Aberdeen

52.5%

17

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

52.4%

18

Stoke-On-Trent

52.1%

19

Perth

51.3%

20

Glasgow

51.0%

Bradford has cemented its position as the best city for graduates to move to in 2022. It has the second cheapest average rental rates in the 49 UK cities, at £384.38, and it has a low cost of living too, with the average cost of meals out, cappuccinos and beer all well below many other cities.

The north dominates the list of best cities for graduates

Whilst London might seem the obvious choice for graduates, the capital comes nowhere near our top 10, and in fact, many northern cities are dominating the list. In second position is Preston, with its low utility and public transport costs, followed by Kingston-Upon-Hull, Dundee and Carlisle.

Things to consider when choosing where to live

Because not everyone’s priorities are the same, not every city will be the best choice for everyone. Here are a few things to consider when deciding where to move to.

Cheap rental rates

For most graduates, the biggest outgoing will be rent. If you want it to be as low as possible, then there’s no better place than Sunderland, with average monthly rent a mere £375. Other cities that offer cheap rent include Bradford, Perth, Kingston-Upon-Hull and Durham; meaning you’ll have plenty of spare hard-earned money to spend on other things as well.

Low cost of living

Sure, most graduates live on a budget, but realistically, you’ll need to be able to afford transport passes, as well as have spare money to enjoy meals and drinks out.

For low-cost public transport, Newport, Perth and Chester are the best options, at £40 and under. For a cheap meal out, you can for just £9 in Peterborough, whereas cheap cappuccinos can be found in Leicester and Derby, and low-priced pints in Bradford, Dundee, Aberdeen.

Job opportunities

To move to a new city, there needs to be job opportunities in the first place, unless you’re taking on a fully remote role.

Based on the sheer number of graduate jobs available, London was always going to be top, but St Albans, Manchester, Bradford and Leeds are also serious contenders, showing that you don’t always need to move to the capital.

New friendships

The fact of the matter is, once you’ve graduated, whilst some of your friends might stay in the same city, a lot will move home or elsewhere for a job opportunity. Even if you are lucky enough to be in the same place as all of your university friends, you can never have too many friends. London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester have the largest 21-30 population, so if you want to expand your friendship circle, you could head to one of these cities.

The bottom areas for graduates

Rent and the cost of living has a huge impact on deciding where to settle, and many southern cities have found themselves at the bottom of this list because of this. Chelmsford has earned itself the title as the bottom place for graduates to live due to its high rental rates and utilities, teamed with a relatively small 21 -30 population.

You might not be surprised to hear it, but Chelmsford, Brighton, London and Bath have also scored low because of their high living costs.

City

Graduate Satisfaction Score

Chelmsford

27.8%

Brighton

31.7%

London

32.4%

Bath

34.4%

St Albans

36.7%

Canterbury

36.9%

Oxford

36.9%

Winchester

37.1%

Cambridge

38.2%

Bristol

38.4%

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. Discover access to public transport

Unless you’re working in a fully remote role, you’ll likely be catching public transport on the days you go into the office.

Before you sign the lease on your new place, check to see how regular the buses, trains, and/or trams are, as well as how close the nearest stop is; and the last one back. It’s also worth checking out the average cost of a taxi home – after all, you don’t want to be clock-watching when you’re out with friends.

3. See what the local amenities are

If you’re not living in the city centre, then you may want to make sure you have everything you need in close reach – especially if you don’t drive. Make a priority list of what’s most important to you, and then find an area based on your list – think proximity to supermarkets, dentists, doctors, and gyms, as well as bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

4. 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.

5. 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 where the top and bottom places to live are, and all the things you should check out when searching for a new home, now’s the time to get out there and go live your best graduate life.

Brought to you by the home insurance experts at comparethemarket.com.

Methodology and sources

Sources:

To determine the top cities for university graduates, nine different factors were analysed: 

  • Beer cost - the price for a pint of domestic beer via Numbeo
  • Cappuccino cost - the price for a cappuccino via Numbeo
  • Inexpensive meal cost - the price of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant via Numbeo
  • Monthly transport cost - the price for a monthly pass on public transport via Numbeo
  • Basic utilities cost - the total price for electricity, heating, and water, per month via Numbeo
  • Gym membership cost - the total price for membership at a gym, for one month via Numbeo
  • Rent cost - the monthly cost of rent, for a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre via Numbeo
  • 21-30 population - the number of 21-30-year-olds living in the area, according to the latest ONS estimates
  • Number of graduate jobs - the total number of jobs advertised on Indeed and Total Jobs with "graduate" as a keyword via Indeed and Total Jobs

Methodology:

To determine the best and most expensive cities for graduates, nine ranking factors were weighted between 0.00 – 2.00 against 49 cities in the UK, with the higher score assigned to factors with greater importance. Rent cost and graduate job opportunities were deemed the most important, followed by monthly transport and basic utilities cost (including electricity, heating and water), the population of 21-30-year-olds, gym fees, 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.