Recognized as a ”gamma world city” by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, Leeds was the fastest growing metropolis in Europe for much of the 2000s and its mix of companies has helped it to rebound from the economic downturn much faster than other parts of the country.
Life in Leeds can be either fast-paced or slow and laid-back depending on your preference. It is very much a 24 hour city with bars and clubs open around the clock, but it also boasts hundreds of acres of green space, parks and gardens to explore on a relaxing afternoon.
One of its most popular public areas is Roundhay Park, which covers more than 700 acres and features open grassland, woods, lakes, a formal garden and two cafes. It is also home to Tropical World, an indoor garden and zoo that has an abundance of exotic plants and wildlife.
For history buffs, a trip to the Royal Armouries Museum is a must. Opened in 1996, it houses one of the UK's largest collections of hunting and warfare artifacts. Entrance is free.
Other popular tourist destinations include the stately home Harewood House, the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, the Thackray Medical Museum, and the Leeds City Museum.
Expats who like sports should find plenty of fixtures and events to enjoy as the city has a large professional football team (Leeds United) and one of the country's most celebrated Rugby League sides, the Leeds Rhinos. The city's new multi-million pound arena also regularly hosts sporting events, such as boxing.
Without question, Leeds is a great city for shopping and eating out. It boasts some fine restaurants with foods from around the world as well as no less than four central shopping centers. For high-end fashion, the Victoria Quarter is the place as it includes a flagship Harvey Nichols store, as well as Louis Vitton, Michael Kors and Vivienne Westwood boutiques. The city's newest shopping center is Trinity Leeds, which opened in 2013. Leeds also has the largest indoor market in Europe.
The quality of schools is something most expats with children look into before deciding on an area to live in. This will take thorough research as Leeds has more than 260 state-funded schools and 18 private ones. Education standards differ greatly with figures from the Department of Education showing that St Mary's Catholic Comprehensive in Menston was the best performing state school at GCSE level with 85% of pupils achieving grades A-C. This was followed by Horsforth School (80%) and the Morley Academy (76%).
The oldest and most prestigious fee-paying independent school in the city is the Grammar School at Leeds. It was known as Leeds Boys' Grammar until it merged with Leeds Girls' High School in 2005 and has a GCSE A-C pass rate of 99%. Notable alumni (known as Old Leodiensians) include Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson, the comedian Barry Cryer and golfer Colin Montgomery.
Leeds has one of the UK's biggest student populations due to it being home to three universities (the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University). In 2011, the Independent newspaper voted it the Best UK University Destination.
As with any city of this size, crime is a very real possibility but Leeds's rate of 6.03 puts it below the six month national UK average of 6.57 per 100 residents. Like with the rest of the United Kingdom, the number to call in the event of an emergency is 999. Non-emergencies should be reported by dialing 101.