Living The Young Professional Dream Outside Of London

As students up and down the country take off their black robes and step into the real world many are captivated by the city of London.

A life in the one of the worlds greatest cities entices many to come and give life in the big smoke a go. But over the last decade this dream has become just that for many graduates, simply a dream.

Soaring rent prices means that many graduates have started looking elsewhere to start their careers.

A guardian article in June 2015 put the average rent price in London at 1500. Here at iproperty log we decided to get our research hats on and analyse various cities in the UK to see if they proved viable alternatives for graduates.

At the end of the day us young professionals aren’t too fussy- all we want is a place with lots of opportunity, a buzzing social scene and affordable rents. Surely London isn’t the only place where all that happens?




The city has really boomed in the last few years in a number of sectors.

The BBC moving their headquarters to Salford has definitely given Manchester a unique selling point. Graduates looking to make a mark in media or related industries will surely see Manchester as a very appealing destination.

Young professionals looking for jobs in the finance sector will find a wealth of opportunity in Manchester. A report by the Manchester evening news claimed that Greater Manchester was the only place in the UK that could rival Londons financial sector in terms of strength and breadth of services.

While this assertion is very debatable, its clear that Manchester is certainly not lacking in the opportunities department.

Social Life

It seems like it would be hard to have a bad time in Manchester as young professional.

24.5% of all the cities residents are in the 20-29 age demographic. Combine this with the cities rapidly growing food and drink scene and an incredible night life and it seems the ideal place for graduates.

One only has to look at some of the bands that have come out of Manchester to realize it has an incredible music scene. Most of us at iproperty log would go nowhere near Warehouse project, but for those young professionals who love that scene- Manchester has it!

For those who are more outdoorsy the peak district is not far away.

Cost Of Living

Rents average about 694 per month for one bedrooms. According to numbeo the cost of living in Manchester is 11.06% less than in London. Although there are other cities with an even cheaper cost of living – which might tempt graduates elsewhere.




Leeds is often labelled the financial capital of the North and is disliked strongly by its neighbour Sheffield, the latter feeling that its not getting its fair share of government investment.

Leeds is a thriving city with and the financial times described it as “the leading centre for corporate finance outside of London.” The telegraph echoed these sentiments while also highlighting the strong legal centre that now exists in Leeds.

The financial and legal centres of Leeds combined employ 1.3 million people. More than 30 national and international banks operate in the city.

Social Life

This small city is packed with an array of pubs, cafes and a very vibrant night life. It also boasts the trinity centre – one of the most impressive shopping centres in the country.

The city’s small size may be viewed by some as a negative factor but we at iplog feel that getting around to places quicker is only an advantage. Nothing in Leeds is too far away.

Cost Of Living

Not only does Leeds give young professionals the opportunity to earn some big bucks but it also has a relatively low cost of living.

The cost of renting a one bed in the city centre is £636. A few years back it had a reputation of being an expensive city but it seems to have shaken off its tag as the “Knightsridge of the North.” Not only is the cost of living 19.74% less the London but the city is also cheaper than a lot of others in the UK.

A comparison between Leeds and Manchester shows that to live the same standard of life would cost 3019.74 in Manchester which is considerably more than 2700 in Leeds. The city is also cheaper than Birmingham, Leicester and Liverpool. Out of the cities surveyed by iplog only Sheffield is cheaper.




For a city that has one of the highest graduate retention rates it has surprisingly weak employment opportunities. One certainly couldn’t replicate the young professional dream they would have envisaged in London.

It has a small but reputable legal centre with firms such as Irwin Mitchell attracting law graduates from Sheffield university. Financially the city does not offer too much with Capita being the biggest company of note present in that sector.

One can understand why Sheffield may look to Leeds with envy.

Social Life

What it lacks in jobs Sheffield certainly makes up for with a cheap and varied social life. The city centre boasts a variety of clubs and there are some great alternative music venues.

It has great pubs in the Kelham Island district and some fantastic restaurants on London road. Although the Sheffield students union boasts some of the best nights out in the city which would be off limits to young professionals.

Many graduates who go to work in Sheffield may just feel its a heaven for students but a slightly frustrating place for young professionals.

Cost Of Living

Renting an apartment in the city centre would cost you a very reasonable £537.00 making Sheffield the cheapest city for renting on our list.




Often labelled the second city, Birmingham has a wealth of job opportunities.

The financial times hailed its achievements in bouncing back from the recession with “higher levels of inward investment, faster export growth and better job creation.” When HSBC moved some of their offices to Birmingham they justified their decision due to the city’s great infrastructure and wealth of financial services.

The city has a trade surplus with China and a young graduate with lofty ambitions certainly would not feel out of place.

Social Life

Solihull was voted the best place to live in the UK and its green places provide a lovely place to relax in the summer. Mosley and Kingsheath are Birmingham’s equivalent to Shoreditch providing an edgy and alternative scene.

The jewellery quarter promises an abundance of restaurants and pubs. If you fancy a Friday night curry- then there really is no better place than Birmiingham with Lady Pontoville road providing the finest samples of the nation’s favourite dish.

Cost Of Living

To live the same standard of life would cost you £4500 in London compared to £2767 in Birmingham. The second city is also cheaper to live in the Manchester.

Although it is not quite as economical as Leeds. Rent in Birmingham city centre are around 699 for a one bedroom. Not too cheap but considerably cheaper than London.




Ever since being labelled the cultural capital of Europe the city has seen a boom in investment. This has been reflected in the legal sector with a number of legal firms now opening offices in the city.

Hill Dickinson have their HQS in Liverpool , others with offices in the city include DLA Piper, DWF, Weightmans, Bermans and O’Connors.

There are many graduate opportunities in the city beyond law but compared to its neighbour Manchester, Liverpool doesn’t quite have the breadth of opportunity.

Social Life

All the cities surveyed here have an incredible nightlife but Liverpool has been at the heart of some of the greatest evolutions in music, therefore making it a mecca for Music lovers of all kind.

Football fans and history lovers will also find much to keep them occupied in the city.

Cost Of Living

13.01% lower cost of living than London with rents for a 1 bed in the city centre averaging around 579. It also slightly cheaper than Manchester, but the latter does have a bit more on offer.

The iProperty Log Verdict

While Manchester and Birmingham are bigger in size Leeds is our definite winner.

It has an abundance of opportunity and is situated in Yorkshire- also known as God’s country. To top it all off its very reasonable place to rent and live in.

While it is 5 percent more expensive to rent in Leeds compared to Liverpool, the latter still has a higher cost of living. Leeds small size means young professionals can easily work hard and play harder without having to travel long distances.

We at iproperty log have a special fondness for northern accents and this seems to be shared by the business world. The Leeds accent in particular is seen to be trustworthy and reliable.